Writing…prose, not comics.

I was hoping to have some more information about Instinct for you today, but nothing yet. I might have found a colorist, so let’s just see how that goes.

I write comics. If that hasn’t been apparent in the last 20-something posts here, then I’m doing something wrong. And I don’t think I am.

But recently (and a long time ago) I also wrote prose. Straight up old fashioned short stories and novels. When I was a teenager, and heavily into the work of Andrew Vachss, I once wrote an entire 100,000 word crime novel that aped all of Vachss’ style and characters. I thought it was pretty good, but it really was a fairly blatant ripoff. I then wrote a Texas-based goofy crime story that was pretty much a Joe R Lansdale ripoff.

In my late teens, when I was heavily into Stephen King, I started writing short horror stories. A few weren’t awful, most were horrible. This was all before the comic book writing bug really bit me.

But recently, I’ve been writing prose again. A lot of it. I’m 22,000 words deep into a crime novel that I’m really enjoying, that my literary manager actually compared to Elmore Leonard. That book’s been stalled out for a couple of weeks, but I’ve been banging away at new stuff. But I will get back to that novel, because my biggest fan demands it of me…and I really need to know what’s going to happen. That might sound weird, since I’m writing it, but it’s the truth. I have a pretty good idea of what’s going to happen, but the characters will dictate whether or not that plan gets followed.

But the new stuff has been fun too. Some old ideas re-purposed, some new ideas. Horror stories, along the lines of the stuff you’d read in a Stephen King collection like Night Shift or Skeleton Crew. Some psychological stuff, some out and out slasher movie stuff. I’m thinking of putting the best stories together in a collection. I even have a name for the collection. But no, I’m not sharing that. Not yet.

I wrote a ghost story, something I never thought I’d write. I re-wrote a story I originally wrote in my teens. I wrote a nasty little 4 page story that I thought up in the car on the way to work one day last week.

Writing prose was really tough to get back into after writing comic scripts for so long. I deliberately leave a lot out of my scripts, because that’s the point, right? To allow the artist to interpret your descriptions into something outstanding. When you’re writing prose, the whole show is on your shoulders. You have to set the scene and describe it and make the reader feel it. You don’t have a stellar artist there to rescue you and make you look like a genius.

But something interesting has happened along the way. I think I’ve actually found my own voice in my prose writing. I mentioned the ripoffs of Vachss and Lansdale and King, and all of that influenced me in my writing, without a doubt, but out of all of that (plus the Charlie Huston and George Pelecanos and Robert Crais and Dennis Lehane and Simon Spurrier) has congealed together and created something new: Mark Bertolini. I think I’ve finally found my own voice and my own style. In fact, a lot of it reads a lot like how I’m writing this blog. My prose writing feels very conversational, like I’m bringing the reader into the story. That wasn’t a conscious decision, but it happened and I’m running with it.

Once I have some more prose under my belt, I might serialize one of the stories here. That might be a fun experiment. In fact, now that I’m thinking about it, I will definitely do that. A new chapter twice or three times a week, a continuing story here at the blog. What do you say? Oh. Well, I’m doing it anyway. You’re not the boss of me.

Do yourself a favor and go listen to “Relationship of Command” by At the Drive-In.

And please head over and check out the new Instinct page on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/#!/Instinctinprogress

And be sure to follow me on Twitter for even more of my rambling @mark_bertolini

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