The Bullhorn of SILVER BROWN

Now Playing: Chapters Eleven & Twelve

Chapters Eleven and Twelve of SILVER BROWN are presently being cast into the Twitterverse for the reading pleasure of the good people of Planet Earth. My normal shtick is to tweet these chapters at a rate of one page a day, but I think this time around I’ll do something a little bit different and only do that for Chapter Eleven. Twelve is an offshoot of Eleven, a by-product of the many countless rewrites Eleven underwent. It consists of only two pages, and reads more like an epilogue to Eleven than a chapter in its own right. So I might just tweet Twelve in its entirety in one fell swoop as a grand finale.

These are the first chapters in the book that are narrated by any character other than Florys MacNab. Both are written from the point of view of the story’s villains. To accentuate that point, the narrative styles of each of these chapters are a pronounced departure from Florys’ characteristic vernacular. Chapter Eleven is written in epistolary form, while Twelve has more of a stream-of-consciousness vibe to it. David Wong (a.k.a. Jason Pargin, the former editor of used this technique to great effect in his comic horror masterpiece John Dies at the End, which featured nefarious entities from other dimensions that were introduced to the audience through excerpts from (fictional) textbooks. Some variant of that technique was bound to find its way into my own yarn.

Machinations of the SAAZMOL organization that were only casually alluded to in the earlier chapters are portrayed in all their eldritch unglory at this point in the story. There’s a remote chance these chapters might be high-octane nightmare fuel for some people, but I would opine they’re way less frightening than the current zeitgeist. Compared to the news headlines of any given day in 2020, these chapters are about as scary as the scariest episode of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic.

tenor (13)
Writing these chapters felt like this for me. Or at least a version of this without the unfortunate transphobia. I’ll just leave it at that.


The Journey of SILVER BROWN

Bless Its Pointed Little Head

The metamorphosis of my sixteenth chapter is progressing steadily at this point. I’m finding that the second half has been easier to edit than the first, since large chunks of it have already been written. Some paragraphs just needed to be rewritten to reflect the perspective of a different character, but all the main concepts are there at least.

This chapter didn’t really start pupating until I chopped off its head and made the head a chapter unto itself. I’ve been editing both these chapters simultaneously, and it’s amazing the number of interesting new appendages the head has grown since it separated from the body. The experience definitely brought John Carpenter’s The Thing to mind, which in my not-so-humble opinion ranks right up there with The Godfather and Star Wars as one of those timeless classics of cinematic excellence that every man, woman and child must see at least once before they die…


The Soundtrack of SILVER BROWN

My Characters Have Visual Leitmotifs

Previous generations before mine grew up on Bible stories. For my generation, those Bible stories instantly became obsolete the second the first Star Wars movie debuted on the silver screen back in 1977. I must’ve seen all these movies at least a hundred times by now. All the different versions of them! In different languages! Backwards and forwards! With and without the pre-movie bong hit! (or edibles, if you’re referring to the first time I saw The Force Awakens). I’ll even commit the ultimate mortal sin here and say I enjoyed the prequel trilogy. It certainly could’ve done with a better actor in the Anakin Skywalker role and the complete elimination of everybody’s least favourite Gungan, and the scripts were in dire want of additional finessing in several key areas. But overall, the prequel trilogy has a certain charm to it, to say nothing of the stellar performance of Ian McDiarmid throughout. It admittedly took me a few viewings to warm up to Solo, though. When I first saw it, Lando Calrissian’s SJW droid co-pilot ruined it for me. She handily outdid the aforementioned Gungan in the obnoxiousness department; at least Jar Jar was way too much of a simpleton to have any kind of political agenda. Her only redeeming factor was that she only wasted about twenty minutes of the movie before she was destroyed.

John Williams’ musical score throughout the main saga (and the scores composed by worthy imitators for the Anthology films and the various spin-off TV shows) has been as indispensable a part of the Star Wars experience for me as lightsaber duels and the Force. In apparent homage to Wagnerian opera, every major character and organization within the saga has their own leitmotif in the musical score, and Mr. Williams, for his part, didn’t disappoint. I would personally opine that if you don’t have at least a passing familiarity with the Imperial March, you probably aren’t human…

If you’re an artist†, whatever you feed your head with on a regular basis has a way of inevitably manifesting itself in your own work. The chapters I’m editing at the moment are notable in that they are the first chapters in the book to be told from the viewpoint of a character other than Florys MacNab. Part of the challenge of writing a story from multiple viewpoints is the need to make it absolutely clear as mud to the reader which character is doing the narrating at any given time. I use a number of methodologies to accomplish this. For starters, every chapter of Silver Brown is titled and subtitled. If the viewpoint shifts away from Florys, this is usually indicated or implied in the chapter’s title. Or, in the case of Chapter Twelve, its subtitle.

Secondly, the characters have distinct personalities and use language in very different ways. Florys has led a very sheltered life and has a pronounced fascination with opulent luxury, and her choice of words and her particular manner of describing things is filtered through that lens. In contrast, Kent Fairholt’s narration style is earthier and generously peppered with vulgarities and sexual innuendo, and any chapter with him as the narrator (almost?) always begins with the phrase “Howdy, all you ugly motherfuckers!” – the word “motherfucker” in this context being a term of endearment, of course.

Third, in what I believe found its way into the manuscript as an unconscious nod to Star Wars, my major characters have their own leitmotifs. Sort of.

The “leitmotifs” in Silver Brown are visual as opposed to musical, and appear in the form of ornate section breaks of the type that frequently occur in narrative literature to indicate a transition from one scene to another within the same chapter. Florys MacNab has two such leitmotifs. If she’s in a good mood, or otherwise has a glimmer of optimism, a section break will look like this:


…but if she’s annoyed, frustrated or generally not in a good mood, it will look like this:


Kent Fairholt only has three moods: irritated, horny and fully contented, this last mood usually only occurring after he’s taken a long, satisfying drag from one of his cigars. But regardless of what kind of mood he’s in, his leitmotif always looks like this:


There is also another chapter I’ve written in epistolary format, which depicts a thoughtmessage exchange between high-ranking members of the SAAZMOL lawyerpriestly class (SAAZMOL being the Galactic Empire of this story, if there was ever one to be had). They’re discussing an utterly dastardly plot to have a certain someone bumped off, which I won’t elaborate on here and now. You’ll just have to wait until the vernal equinox to learn more about that. There’s a section break in that chapter, and it looks like this:


These are all the leitmotifs I have in the manuscript so far, although I’m sure there will be a least a few more of them. There’s another major character in the book called Sherman, who is a talking ferret. He might have a leitmotif too, but I haven’t decided what it will look like yet. Sherman has been programmed for combat and his way of thinking is very Mr. Spock-like, so his leitmotif will likely reflect that.

† If you create art of any sort, even if you only do it as a hobby, you’re an artist. Period.