A Dragon Sketch

dragon

You’re reading Victor Poole, and in my current novel, the hero found some horticultural supplies and created a floral tribute for his lady friend.

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Bribery Cookies

I made cookies again (chocolate chip this time), and they didn’t turn out nearly as perfectly as the snickerdoodles, but I’m also using these as bribes for good behavior from the kids, so they don’t need to be pretty at all.

I’m going through my current series and making a timeline for officially tracking the days that have passed since the intense part of the action started up. I have several back and forths where we go backwards in time a few days to follow various secondary characters, so I’ve needed to work out a cleaned up calendar of events to watch for potential plot snafus.

Isn’t that the funnest word? Snafu.

Anyway, as soon as I finish this run-through for dates, I’m planning to go back to book one to do one final comma-usage and typo check through each book.

I’m significantly into the series right now, so that will be a satisfying amount of work, and reviewing the arc up to this point always makes me more aware of the direction of the overall story. My main character is now out of the building where he’s been trapped for months, and we’re drawing close to some very exciting traveling segments of the story.

Here is a study of a horse.

sketch 4

You’re reading Victor Poole, and in my current novel, the abused housekeeper is on her way to an appointment with a restorative neurosurgeon.

Today Is Friday (And That Has Nothing To Do With This Blog Post)

I am so excruciatingly tired as I write this that I can hardly keep my eyes open. I’ve been going to the gym (yay weightlifting) and doing extra bodyweight exercises on my days off, and my body is trying to tell me to go back to a more sedentary lifestyle by falling asleep when I’m supposed to be writing a blog post.

Hence, the extreme tiredness, currently.

Changing Body Composition Is Intense

I’ll just drink water and that will wake me up, maybe. That’s how sleep works, right? I kid.

Anyhow, I’m reaching a dramatic juncture of some tension in my current novel. A few of the heroes have cornered a ne’er-do-well and are slowly extracting his nefarious secrets. The ne’er-do-well has a secret family, for example, which he has successfully kept hidden from his lawful wife.

What A Cad

Oh, the drama.

I think someone is going to be thrown out of the ancestral pile on his ear in the near narrative future.

My, but I am tired. Blerg.

Victor Poole, Write About Writing!

My daughter requested and was given a Blues Clues dvd for her birthday. I was cautious in the selection of the dvd in order to avoid Joe and make sure we were getting Steve.

Because Steve is so much better. Joe isn’t bad at all; I think he’s charming and does a more than decent job, but for listening to episodes forever and ever, I will go with Steve every time.

Steve And Blue Forever

He’s like the Bob Ross of children’s shows.

Also, my children like Bob Ross. Not that that is particularly on topic.

This is a super rough sketch of a character from my science fiction series (in the queue for revision) who has, in this scene, just murdered an alien who was attempting to drain her insides. The alien ship is semi-sentient and has doors in the shape of plant-like disks that retract when one attempts to attain egress.

sketch 3

You’re reading Victor Poole, and in my current novel, a socialite is embarking on a new adventure in life.

Childish Shenanigans

I ran into a nasty plot problem in my novel the other day. It took me a day and a half to get through the various drafting iterations to a strong solution.

Someday you may find yourself having a hard time coming up with solutions to problems in the plot.

Deviations. Ever experienced an energy deviation? I’m sure you have.

When you have a hard time following a natural progression of the plot (which means you’re experiencing problems with the characters’ development), you are experiencing an energy deviation.

Solutions to energy deviations lie inside your child self, which is a creative, endless problem-solving machine.

Inside of you somewhere, maybe buried deep and maybe right up there on the surface, is a childish, selfish entity that wants things NOW, wants everything to be about YOU, and needs adoration and constant praise from everyone and everything in the universe. Your child self is insatiable, demanding, and never quits being passionate about wanting whatever stuff it is that drives your particular child self.

I’m like that.

Instead of looking inside of myself and saying, “My gosh, what a depressing lack of adulthood,” I can say, “What excellent amounts of pure adrenaline,” and channel my childish interior into a kind of bottomless gas tank for work.

Yes, work, but productive, building-up-to-something-in-the-long-run work, which to a child is the same thing as fun.

Now, plotting through problems.

First, you take what you have, the current state of the plot or scenario, and then second, you dig down into your really, really childish self.

From the perspective of your inner toddler, you look at the plot and say to yourself, “Ruin this!”

Let me explain for a second the dynamic of the right kind of ruining, and then I’ll talk for a moment about why this works to create easy problem solving to your plot without any agonizing artistic pain.

So, first, the right kind of “Ruin this!”

If you have ever been around other human beings, you have presumably experienced the sort of cranky behavior from people that snarls everything up around them. Their crankiness just make everything worse, no matter what the situation. You  have, doubtless, from time to time been one of those irritable people yourself, because negative snarling is a common and transient energy dynamic and not an essential state of being.

If you are in the state of mind to make everything worse in the process of tinkering at your plot, when you say to yourself, “Ruin this!”, you will actually damage your plot badly and/or kill the story idea.

That’s more than possible if your approach is taunted with cold, remorseless cynicism; in fact, plot damage and energy denigration is likely, given the wrong starting mental conditions, so let’s talk instead about the right flavor.

The right kind of flavor within your “Ruin this!” action is a childish one.

Healthy children are productively dynamic; they create chaos that is full of potential and surging with positive motion.

Spiritually unhealthy human beings, whatever their physical age, destabilize and corrupt their circumstances.

This isn’t a good people/bad people dynamic, but a strong state of mind/weak state of mind thing. Most people, myself and probably you, fluctuate constantly from productive to negative, sometimes dipping from one state to the other in almost inexplicable waves.

You can tell which state you’re in by sticking a basic energy thermometer into your heart. Ask yourself how you feel, thrust an energy stick into your internal being, and if the energy expands with heat and interest, you’re healthy. If your energy contracts and hardens, or cools, you’re in an unhealthy state of mind. (The mere act of imagining an energy stick going into your heart creates the thermometer, so don’t worry about how to do that. Just imagine it happening, and you’ll get an expanding warm sensation or a cold, contracting feel inside your chest/abdominal area.)

The correct “Ruin this!” attitude is necessarily full of warmth and expanding energy.

(And if you get the cold, wrong answer with your energy thermometer, well, then you need a five-minute play date with your inner child. Set a timer, play like a toddler, and take your temperature again. Repeat as necessary.)

Okay, we talked about the effective kind of energy for a “Ruin this!” attitude; now let’s talk about why this works, why ruining your plot makes endless good ideas happen and gives you access to a reliable and bottomless pit of creatively fueled brilliance.

Ruining your plot or current scenario works because dysfunction (see, poor plot) relies on a static, inelastic frozen dynamic. When you’re stuck, it’s because you’re really afraid of anything changing. When you try to keep everything the same (and familiar), you close your mind to all the things that could jostle and disrupt your current scenario.

A static scenario with unchanging characters is not a plot so much as a still-life, and that’s great for painting but not for writing more than one scene, and even the scene will be sorta dry if no changes can sneak in at all.

Basically, if you’re having a plot problem, you are in a frightened, rigid grown-up mindset and you need to sink backwards and evaluate whatever energy thing happened to get you stuck in the first place.

Luckily for all of us, our inner children excel at evaluating energy deviations and exploiting them for maximum explosive effect.

Have you ever watched children? You know, babysat them or anything like that? Maybe you have some, or you’ve encountered young humans in your own past iteration as a juvenile of the species.

In any case, my point is that children target and exploit weak areas in order to create maximum satisfying drama. Noise, mess, chaos, and pleasurable destruction.

You can and should do that to your plot problems, using your inner child and containing yourself into healthy and creative “Ruin this!” modes of thoughts.

Ruining your plot from the perspective of a child works because you automatically evaluate all known elements and come up with really great ways to destroy everything, which gives you abundant drama to work with, and plot is drama. I mean, that’s what a plot is; drama, hopefully as cathartic and emotionally all-encompassing as possible.

A Childish Example

I have a very old novel sitting around in my hard drive that has caused nothing but trouble for me in my efforts to revise or salvage it.

As a live-action experiment, I will give you the general picture of the plot problem and then take my internal temperature and productively ruin the scenario, thereby creating a chunk of useable plot.

Ready?

The main character is a girl in her twenties who has recently lost everyone in her immediate family to a car crash, and she takes a job as a dishwasher at a local restaurant and fantasizes about escaping to a fairy land with a magician. The different characters in the restaurant form fodder for her imaginings, and at the end of the novel, she dies and is reunited with the owner of the restaurant in a very cheesy, though emotionally satisfying, happy ending in heaven.

The problems with the plot are many and varied; part of the family who is supposed to be dead from the car crash aren’t actually dead; the owner of the restaurant and the main character engage in a long, muddy might-be-a-dream sequence that goes nowhere, and the main chef in the restaurant turns out to be an implausible billionaire who makes toy ships in his spare time. There are a lot of plot holes, and while much of the dialogue is charming, the actual book itself is, as it stands, unsalvageable.

I wrote it a long time ago. It is, in fact, the first actual beginning-to-end novel I ever wrote, and it was my first National Novel Writing Month effort.

It was lots of fun.

My editor loves the characters and wants me to rewrite it so we can publish it. (My editor is awesome, by the way. Hi, Mr. Editor!)

So, here’s my internal temperature-taking . . . mm . . . lukewarm. Give me a minute to go be childish.

*

Okay, I’m back. Now I am super in the mindset to be creative . . . internal temperature of hot and expansive. Hooray!

So, I have this plot that is a big, messy problem. The biggest issue with the whole thing is that it doesn’t go anywhere; the character doesn’t actually have a genuine adventure because I was too scared to allow anything significant in the story to happen or grow.

I’m gonna ruin things.

The main character does not lose her family in a car crash; she moves away from her family and gets an apartment she can barely afford with some savings, and then loses her job the day after she signs the lease. In a fit of despair, she is walking the streets and browsing job listings on her phone when she passes a quaint little pretzel shop that smells amazing. She goes into the shop, meets the eccentric and enigmatic old man who makes the pretzels, and asks for a job. The old man laughs, tells her to come back the next day, and she goes home and feels that things will be better in the morning.

Then! She goes back to the shop only to find a closed sign and a notice that the store is out of business and up for sale. Spiraling into uncontrollable depression, our main character sticks around the shop on her off time; she gets a job and barely scrapes by for a little while until she meets someone poking around the old pretzel shop, looking to buy it and start a restaurant. She gets a job there as a dishwasher, quits her janitor job, and . . . discovers a staircase into a magical kingdom in the bottom of the sink. Duh duh daaah!

More exciting adventures happen and she eventually goes permanently to live as a disguised princess in the fantasy realm and lives happily ever after with the soup-shop owner, whom she has drawn into her adventures.

There.

Now I just have to write the book. But now I have a functional starting chunk of plot! Bwa ha.

You’re reading Victor Poole, and in my current novel, Vince is training his hunting party.

Friendliness Levels

I knew a guy a long time ago. I never got to know him well at all; we were in the same place and doing similar shows, though we never worked directly together.

He was an odd duck, though, because he was super negative and hated people, and he didn’t know how to change any of that into useful material on stage.

I followed his trajectory for a while out of curiosity, and he kind of hit against this ceiling where he wasn’t doing any better because he couldn’t or wouldn’t shift the morass of bitter hate out of his spine.

He really disliked other human beings. He wanted to like them, in theory, but his coping mechanism for dealing with others was to numb himself into practically lobotomized friendliness and then joke about things. Because there wasn’t genuine interest under his navigation, he didn’t build actual alliances with other humans, and ran up against this internal lack in his stage work.

The thing that’s interesting to me about the dynamic is how forced-happy his smile was. There was darkness under his jocularity, and bitterness in all his laughs.

You’re reading Victor Poole, and owing to some unpleasant emotional purges underway in the fleshy vehicle, I cannot breathe. In my current novel, the hunter is creating a priority task list for the excursion.

Un-Ruggifying Myself

I’m working on learning how to act like a person instead of a human form of rug.

The problem when you’re a rug is that everyone in the whole world who is used to walking on convenient people-rugs recognizes you and stomps on you, so getting away from greedy assholes long enough to brush off all the footmarks and stand up is complicated.

Plus then you’re, like, flattened and stuff, so reanimating the crushed nature of your spiritual anatomy is painful and fraught with difficulty.

All of which to say, being not-a-rug is an adventure. Acting like a person instead of a domicile for walking feels unnatural, what with the life-long nature of my rughood.

There is bacon in my fridge, by the way. (And that is probably going to be fried in a pan shortly.) I’m tired of being a rug, though. Not that bacon frying has anything to do with rugs.

You’re reading Victor Poole, and in my current novel, Vince is tweaking his new head of security’s energy management in service of the coming hunt.

 

Just An Update

I’m dealing with super old impacted rage right now. It’s caught through my middle ribs, so I have to detach it constantly throughout the day, which is more annoying than painful.

Every time I release a good chunk of the fury, I get a rush of heat everywhere. That’s how I feel anger, apparently, is with heat. That’s exciting to know about myself. I haven’t started feeling sadness yet, but I imagine that will pop up for me at some point in the future.

I’m working slowly through Linklater, also. Linklater is the gold standard for vocal development in acting training. I used to have the newest edition of the book, but a few years ago I switched over to the original printing.

I like getting into the oldest edition of books like this, so I can dig down into the first explanation. It’s much easier for me to follow the original intent in Linklater than the newer, expanded edition, which is about four times as thick and has a whole lot of added exercises and friendly illustrations.

The original Linklater book has illustrations, but they’re scratchy pen doodles, full of character and charm. Hideous, but wonderful.

Also, I’m still in the thick of editing work. Yay!

You’re reading Victor Poole, and in my current novel, Vince is so, so close to getting out of the building. It’s been fifteen days since he came upstairs to the apartment, and he’s finally getting out. I’m excited to write the part where Vince goes into the forest territory for the first time.