August 24, 2007

Lakeland Lore Blues

One thing I've learned in Lakeland: the phrase "Southern gentleman" is meaningless. I could focus on it for hours and I still wouldn't get it.

I do know now how important it is to fully flesh out Lawton Chiles' boyhood hero--U.S. Senator Spessard Holland. "Stately," "gentlemanly," "well-mannered." Pick whatever antique adjective you want, they don't pass the "SOS test." People who aspire to write well talk about the "smell test," the "laugh test," etc. The SOS test means that if the reader is drowning in an ocean of vacuous platitudes and Southern folkore, don't throw the sap an anvil! Use the anecdote, use the vignette, set the scene. Write as much detail as necessary to make Holland real. Throw a life raft.

The Holland papers are at University of Florida. UF is the key to putting Holland, Chiles, and Munn Park together in a way that makes sense.

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