Tag: frankhagen

The Woes of Writing First-Person With a Complicated Narrator ProtagonistThe Woes of Writing First-Person With a Complicated Narrator Protagonist

Chapter four of my novel Marked for Harm is live on the podcast today, and as we get deeper into violent and sexual themes, I recall many of my early readers saying they couldn’t help but visualize the protagonist as myself. While, I can understand that, I also am not sure I want people thinking this is autobiographical. Both myself and the protagonist have personal issues, but maybe his are a little different than my own.

When I first set out to write a novel that turned pornography on its head and create something truly artistic using the same platform, I was coming from an earnest place of inquiry and self-challenge, but the story took on a life of its own, of course, and became something more profound than I had initially foreseen. Not only was I creating something deep and meaningful, but the protagonist developed a depth of person and went on a journey much more transformative.

My concern is two-fold: On the one hand, the character experiences some really horrible things and participates in some really horrible things. For someone who has been writing his whole life, this is nothing new, but for family and coworkers who may have never seen this side of my creativity, it is, and I know one of my readers simply could not proceed due to the nature of the story and the way tendency of the reader to conflate the confessions of first-person narration with the confessions of the author. Certainly, there are many examples of authors doing just that, but this is not the case with this novel. Regardless, as artists we always want the work to be judged on its own merits and not assumptions being brought to it. Now, on the other hand, I want the reader (in this case, the listener) to get to the end.

The challenge for a writer is always to hook the reader from the beginning and then drawn them in so they cannot wait to find out what happens. With a challenging work like this, I fear losing the audience due to the graphic nature of some of the contents, which is really silly considering the types of things people watch on streaming media and in movies. I’m guilty here too, because I hold the medium of writing sacred and I am writing literature. Will I lose the audience because they cannot wrap their minds around this type of sexual activity and sexual violence within the scope of “high art”? But that was my challenge from the beginning and why this novel exists to begin with! So that is the risk I take, along with the risk that the audience may confuse the character with the author.

I ask the audience always to be patient and allow themselves to go inside the universe of the story, immerse themselves there and go with it, trust me as the writer that something more is coming.

Again, this has been a really great experience so far and I hope that you are enjoying the ride as well!

Building a NicheBuilding a Niche

Building an online audience for a niche interest such as audio fiction can be daunting, but being realistic and not watching the water boil are both good places to start.

Heavy Typing is a platform for moving my passion, which is writing, into the minds of an external audience, but how do I reach these people. Even in today’s age of 15 second loops and memes, there are people who enjoy fiction, poetry, and other forms of writing. There is the holdover from a slower time, and an influx of younger people who long for depth, discovery, and knowledge. They want to experience transformative art which resonates on a deep level and they have the comprehension skills to concentrate beyond a single moment and reflect upon such art. They not only permit art to have an impact on their lives, but they invite it and seek it out.

But these same people also live in the same digitally driven, fast paced world as the rest of us.

That is why I chose to read my works in audio format, but, again, how to bring my works to these people is always the question and the challenge.

If you’re an artist, you also likely face the same questions and challenges.

We value our creativity highly and we would appreciate others doing so as well. Sharing is what so much of this is about.

I have experimented with various obvious tools, such as using hashtags, broadcasting to as many online platforms as possible, staying current on social media, SEO, asking for positive reviews, and even advertizing, but niche interests tend to stay niche.

I oppose automation, but I am willing to try it. I prefer to engage with an audience on a personal level, but there is probably room for compromise here. The way algorithms work, often your target audience will simply miss or not be presented with your content.

I think in this day and age, we are looking for lightning to strike, but more than likely, if success will manifest in the form of a larger audience, a snowball is a more realistic analogy.

We want to form a solid core of content always, and let this grow organically into something bigger if that is our fate, but without good content this can never happen, so my suggestion to myself and to you as well is be earnest in our marketing, but allow things to grow and mature over time without judgement and with patience.

If your audience doesn’t show up, it doesn’t mean you and your creative works aren’t worth it. It has less to do with your content than it does with the nature of online life. Take heart and keep going because this effort is about your soul and cultivating your person. Navigate by internal winds and everything else that might come is simply a bonus.

Episode Four / Chapter TwoEpisode Four / Chapter Two

Well, this was a long week. I actually didn’t much like the way I had recorded this episode, but was struggling to find the time and the right vibe to get back to it. I told myself I was being overly critical, and I probably was, but I listened to it again this afternoon and couldn’t have it go out the door like that, so I just re-recorded the episode and it is significantly improved.

I feel so much better sticking to my guns, but I am now behind in production, as this time was meant to record a future episode. That’s fine, we’re a new podcast and I’m finding my flow,

I really hope that you enjoy this episode.

Recording a NovelRecording a Novel

I’m three episodes into this podcast, four if you count the trailer – production wise – and I can tell you that it isn’t easy, even with my recording set up being pretty close to pro.

What I don’t have is a perfectly sound proofed room. For making music, this has worked fine because everything going into the mics is loud. I have the opportunity to turn the hotness of the inputs down and capture everything beautifully, and quite honestly, the echoing off my concrete basement walls has never really been much of an issue, but as I approach making something so quiet and so intimate, I encounter four primary issues

  • HVAC coming on and off – I honestly would be okay with it being on, but coming on and off is an issue, and with the heat lately, turning it off isn’t realistic.
  • Chair clicking, mouse and keyboard sounds.
  • Dryness of the mouth, needing to clear my throat, or becoming thirsty. 20 to 30 minutes of continuous speaking, keeping up intonation, pronunciation, a level effort can be a challenge by itself, but I am pretty sure the last couple years I have spoken a lot less. Getting used to this has been interesting.
  • Dog barking. I have a Jack Russell and he is near unstoppable when he sees a squirrel or UPS delivery person.

I can say that I have made some strides toward dealing with each of these items.

  • I have gone back to my old style of holding a unidirectional microphone in my hand and speaking very close to it. This allows me to turn the input down like I would if I were singing, eliminating the extraneous noises such as the chair clicking or keyboard when I arrow down the page to read. Between this technique and the use of noise limiting plugins, I have found a good balance, I believe.
  • I am no longer trying to fix things as I go. I really prefer to do one take for things. With a five minute song, this is practical, but with a 25 minute episode of spoken word, it isn’t. The reason I don’t like to do multiple takes is that I want a level / consistent performance. But it isn’t practical. So unless my dog begins barking, I keep going and simply re-read the paragraph. doing an edit in the post to remove mistakes and empty noise. I can take time to clear my throat and drink some water.
  • Finally, I have built sound proofing panels with a lot of optimism, but I have to be honest. If the dog is barking, the take is unusable. He has a high pitched register to his yap that bleeds through everything. I was even contemplating building a sound proof room in my basement for this project and because it would help with other recording projects as well, but I really think his barking would wind up in the recording regardless.

I think to be fair to myself that the introduction and the first two episodes, reading short stories, sound good enough, and I need to give myself a break, but I do think that this first chapter of the novel sounds a step better, and I am starting to feel like this is a turning out great. I really do appreciate feedback, so let me know what you think.