H1. Faith is Struck by Lightning

Dan bit his nails pacing back and forth in the airport lobby. Each time he reversed direction he checked the electronic schedule on the opposite wall. Jay’s flight filtered to the top as his arrival time approached.

“How much longer, Dainty?” Faith stretched across four seats, threading herself under three armrests. “Why’d we have to get here so early?”

“His flight should be here in half an hour.” Dan wiped condensation off the window to scan the misty morning skies for the shape of an airplane. The landing-strips were frosted and dewy.  “I wanted to beat traffic.”

“There’ll be no beating traffic on the way back,” said Faith. “It’ll be rush-hour. Maybe I should drive us all home, so you don’t have to worry.”

“I can drive us home.”

“Are you sure?” Faith now crawled on top of the armrests. She wore a heavy green sweater, as the clouds were colored an auspicious rainy gray. “You always bite your fingertips when you’re anxious, Dainty. If you have to drive through stop-and-go traffic you’ll bleed on the steering wheel.”

H1 Commentary: On Black Humor

You can probably guess what happens in H1: Faith is Struck By Lightning. This is the third time I’ve announced the death of a character in a section title, the others being A1: Dan is Immolated in a Furnace and C4: Beatrice is Hit By a Bus. Other writers might name these sections something else so the deaths are a surprise, but I don’t see the point. Reading is about the journey, not the destination. Besides, we’ve seen before that death isn’t really a handicap in Akayama DanJay.

More importantly, I think it’s funny. There’s a dark humor in knowing Faith is about to die, and waiting for it to happen. Let’s talk about dark humor, or black humor, and how I’m trying to make readers laugh as terrible things happen to characters they like.

G4. Riding the River

Jay wrote everything Jango said in his notebook. He considered recording the lecture with his phone, but didn’t want to interrupt Jango’s story to ask permission. Jango sniffed cricket smoke from the brass burner before he finished:

“Faith and Jango finished smoking the cricket and began the walk to the monastery. Faith considered the story about Jango’s brother Jun. ‘I think I’ve watched your brother’s anime,’ she said, ‘but I’m still hung up on the timeline here.’”

G4 Commentary: Wrapping Things Up

G4: Riding the River is the end of a story arc. Jay has finished his tour through Sheridan, and next week he’ll be back in LA. I’ve done my best handling loose story threads: the Chinese couple, Eva, and Lilly share a moment of closure, while Leo/’Henry’ will appear again; I’ve dangled him on purpose. Let’s examine this ending to see how I try to wrap things up and provide a satisfying conclusion.

First, ‘Craig,’ ‘Suzy,’ Eva, and Lilly share their last moments ‘on-screen.’ Conjoining the endings means I only needed to write one effective scene. If I wanted to address ‘Craig’ and ‘Suzy’ and Eva and Lilly separately, I’d have to write and balance multiple scenes and that sounds hard. It’s more expedient to roll these characters together and finish them all off at once.

G3. The Great Stand

Jango told Faith about returning to the great plains of Kansas to stand on a concrete porch outside an apartment complex. Jango, in his early fifties, brushed wrinkles from his robes and sighed to clear his mind before knocking. A woman peeked through the window-blinds and, seeing Jango, opened the door. “Can I help you?”

“Please, thank you. I am looking for my brother Jun.”

“Jun doesn’t get many guests.” She led him through some corridors. “He never mentioned a brother.”

“I haven’t come back to Kansas in more than a decade.”

“I don’t think your brother’s left the apartment in about as long.” The woman stopped at a door on the first floor. It didn’t have a room number. “We let Jun rent the basement for cheap.”

G3 Commentary: Miscellaneous Motifs

A motif is a “distinctive feature or dominant idea in an artistic or literary composition,” says Google, and noticing them is key to understanding a writer’s intentions for their work.

I didn’t start writing with motifs in mind. I wrote what I wanted, and noticed motifs later. There were a lot of mountains and a lot of worms. Now that I’m rewriting Akayama DanJay for publishing online, I can put intention behind the imagery. 

1 2 3 12