Some people say that plot drives the story while others single out description or dialogue. With my fiction, I’ve always impressed the consequence of characters. A memorable name may impact the story much more than witty conversation. So far, in terms of fiction, I’ve written two collections of stories (including Schoolarium) and my debut novel (Curry Bashing). Two of these books remain unpublished. Both of them have passed the first draft. To be honest, as a self publisher, there is little margin for error when it comes to selling books. Writing and editing is one thing but you likewise have to be savvy with marketing and promotion. In my case, my memoir was quite personal. It would mostly suit people who personally know me.

Barbershop compliment

I was at the barbershop a few weeks back. We talked about my latest text. The barber threw me a curveball. I had said that I printed fifty two copies. He then asked me how much I needed to sell to make a profit. The question threw me off. I told him half the print run. Of course, this was far from true. There is a lot more to self-publishing than printing copies. After finishing my haircut, there was this oldie guy who was up next.

‘You’re good looking,’ he told me.

‘Thank you.’

‘You’re welcome,’ he said.

A few months back, I overheard a Pinay senior giving me the same compliment.

I mentioned this bit about this training we had as seniors in high school. In my memoir, I pointed out that our drill sargeant told the class that ‘Topher has the ideal haircut. You should copy his look.’

A couple of my batch mates said that they intend to do so.

‘Not on my watch’

I have been praised for my inimical style. Having lived and studied in two countries certainly fostered this. Some authors that I look up to are notable for including recurrent themes in their writing. For instance, John Grisham is noted for his legal thrillers mostly set in the South. He also loves to put backstory to his oeuvre. Indeed, some of his avid readers have commented that his last few books are rich in historical fiction. Haruki Murakami utilises magical realism, cats, wells, and love stories in his body of work. As mentioned before, Connelly always makes sure to promote closure in his texts. His villains meet their Maker before the end of each book. This ensures that his plots remain fresh.

As for myself, the mobilisation of a school setting is the biggest unifier among my work. I’ve spent a lot of time inside schools and learning institutions. Ergo, it’s only natural for me to draw from those experiences in my fiction. Education is not just about books and quizzes. Making relationships and creating memories are part and parcel of the journey.

Aside from this, a common trope among my recent stories is the use of students blocking their enemies on social media. I think I’ve used this for at least five stories. I impressed that it’s hard to decipher what’s really happening through mere online contact. Misunderstandings and ‘catastrophising’ are likely products. Sometimes, it’s ‘lost in translation’. Other times, former friends or classmates are blocked as a result of not knowing them enough. Whatever the reason may be, this adds flavour to the word wok.

Memorable characters

In my works, whether published or not, I expect my characters to do the heavy lifting. I want to create full personas in a thriving, made up microcosm. My last collection of stories was eighteen deep. I think on average it was around fourteen or fifteen pages each. All of the stories were loosely based on real happenings.

Thus, fictionalising appellations take time. You can’t just count six Pomeranians, divide them by two and call your main man as Tres. Similarly, it’s bad form (not to mention unoriginal) to ogle a doughnut and christen your heroine as Donata. In my case, I peeled the onion and thought long and hard before unveiling my stars. As per the ensuing list, most of these tags would only matter to Filos in general or, in particular, my schoolmates.

Possible character list (loosely based on real earthlings)

Harvey Morallos = Barry Milallos. Harvey was a friend in high school. We were both hoops nuts. He said that his specialty was ‘driving through the lane.’ He was far from the best English speaker but his trying effort was always priceless. I mentioned him in my memoir.

Roel Nator = Ronel Bapor (Ronel Ship). Nator was a schoolmate of mine. We often hung out after lunch. One time, he was talking bout his friend, Bevin. I asked him a couple of times, Devil? That ticked him off. On the court, he was a decent point guard. In the intramural on our senior year, we only finished third out of four.

Dexter Carullo = Lester Corn-Julio. See also: Dude, where’s my plant? Further reading: The thirty-year-old freshman. If you’ve heard of Beavus & Butthead, you’ll get the punchline.

Garry Renevo = Gabby Relleno

Amos Victor Delgado = Camus Vector Del Gago. We were classmates for four years of high school.

Prince Gerald Llandelar = Vince ‘Mallard’ Santigwar. The class clown who had a mean streak. Any one with half a brain would classify him as a bully. I guess being a ‘faith healer’ would suit him.

And saving the WORST for last

Don Anonuevo = Long Ka…

Dubious mention:

Oohh mamayedo bap bareya…shiva pweyorap bareya. Hulele bap ba…BARABASON si Barba! (Barba’s beard is hideously long)

I recall this tune that we performed during graduation. During rehearsals, Vince and the other bullies kept picking on Barba. To be fair, Barba barely had a beard. In the restroom, I overheard Barba complaining to Jerwin Piranha about being picked on. The latter said that ‘You make them walk all over you.’ Obviously, Piranha wouldn’t take it sitting down. I know this for sure, as I cited the latter in my memoir.

Pa post nga ulit. (May I post again) #corny

Ronel Bapor (Ship)
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