Thursday, December 6, 2018

"Strange Days"

Constantine Singer grew up in Seattle and earned his BA from Earlham College and his Masters from Seattle University. He currently lives in the Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles with his family and teaches history at a high school in South LA.

Singer applied the Page 69 Test to Strange Days, his debut novel, and reported the following:
From page 69:
I don’t understand what she just said, but I take the paper she’s pushing at me. It’s another letter. This one’s not in an envelope, it’s just folded up. It’s short:

Hey Alex,
This is Corina. She was sent here to get you.
She’s cool. Go with her.

It’s in my handwriting again. I look up at her and she nods like she understands. “It’s a lot to deal with, but it’ll all make sense when we get to the compound.”

“Compound?” I ask, because even though I want to know how she has a letter from me telling me to go with her when I know for a fact that I have never written one—or been to Seattle—plus I don’t know her, I can’t get the words out.

She sighs. “Just come with me, Alex.” She picks up the note and points to the last part. “‘She’s cool,’” she reads. “‘Go with her.’”
Alex not sure what to do? Check.

Befuddling Time Travel element? Check.

Snappy exasperation from Corina? Check.

It turns out that page 69 of Strange Days is a fairly representative sample, save for the fact that it is a moment of rest in the action. One of my favorite pieces of plotting advice goes something like this: A plot should have five “Oh Nos” for every 2 “Oh phews.” Otherwise it’s too much or too easy. This is an “Oh Phew” moment, which are outnumbered approximately 5:2 in the book.

On a personal note, I really like this moment because it was while writing it that I really discovered who Corina was going to be. The eventual centrality of her character wasn’t part of my original design, but when I started writing her she convinced me that she needed a starring role.
Visit Constantine J. Singer's website.

--Marshal Zeringue