Why Your Point Of View Needs A Subterranean Motive

Caleb NEW

This is a cover I’m designing for an update to my sci-fi thriller, My Name is Caleb; I am Dead. I got a great review for the book from Taylor Morrison, and I’m softening up towards commercialism in my cover designs. I wanted to fully embrace commercial appeal from day one, but I didn’t know how. I am approaching market viability one step at a time.

I didn’t realize that I’d neglected to update the interior of the book with Vellum, so that’s also in the works.

In Other News

The ‘a’ key on my laptop has worked loose, and refuses to adhere properly to the little hook parts underneath. I am training myself to type gently over the key so that it doesn’t pop off with every vigorous ‘a’ stroke.

Funnily enough, this quirk has made me grow fonder of my laptop. I have one of the MacBook Air laptops with the shredding power cords. I was patching it diligently with electrical tape, but my beloved spouse, observing the sticky and disintegrating cord, carried me forcibly to the Apple store and bought me a new one.

Now, Ulterior Motives For Point Of View

Your novel is necessarily written from one point of view or another; I tend to favor third person omniscient, but there are many kinds of point of view, and they are all good for achieving different effects. What we are talking about today is the message relayed by the style of point of view. What are you telling your readers, subtly, about the overall meaning of the story?

Every book relays a conglomerate of messages; the most long-lasting and impactful communication is that portrayed by the overall implications of the point of view. We’ll look now at some broad examples, to give you an idea of what I mean.

Leo Tolstoy

Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina is (mostly) written from a bemused, factual third-person omniscient point of view that gives the novel as a whole a sense of inevitable absurdity and reverence; the novel mourns for, judges, and prods acerbic fun at the characters.

Agatha Christie

Christie’s The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, on the other hand, embraces a first person, past tense point of view, which turns out wonderfully in the final chapters when you find out the doctor’s been (spoiler, spoiler, spoiler). In this book, the subterranean message is one of deceit, danger, and false jollity. The book would lose much of its marvelously eerie, suspenseful quality without this point of view. The underlying message, that of the intensely personal and permanent nature of homicide, makes the scenes excessively memorable.

Victor Hugo

One more example is The Hunchback of Notre Dame. If you haven’t read the unabridged novel, you’ve missed most of the point of the book, which is a third person omniscient impassioned ode to the architecture of Paris. Quasimodo, Esmeralda, and the emotionally impoverished Frollo are incidental to the main story, which is a very long and loving treatment of the city. This point of view creates a backdrop against which the characters move like miniatures picked out against an expansive landscape.

What Does Your Point Of View Say?

Books that have no second or third meaning, and that do not contain an overt message about life, art, and humanity, are books that do not last. The best and surest way to convey such a message is like this:

Examples:

Message: Life is hard, and people are corrupt inside.

Point of View: First person, present tense

I’m getting ahead of myself. I started to tell you about the day that I died. It was an afternoon, of course, broad daylight. Not at all the sort of scene you imagine, when you picture yourself dying suddenly. I always thought I would go in a car accident, if I died early. I hadn’t even found a girlfriend. It was incredibly ironic. I’d gotten away from my parents, I had a house that I almost owned, and I was current on my taxes. Plus, I’d just gotten a raise at work, and my boss liked me. I thought it was one of the best days of my life. Well, I wasn’t thinking right at that moment, this is the best day of my life, but I did have that feeling of something really great starting. I felt like I had been digging my way out of a deep hole, and I’d finally reached the surface and started to make some kind of genuine progress, and then Bam! Dead. Heart failure, or something. You don’t really find out, when you die like that, and are taken up right away. You don’t find out what it was that killed you. I suppose most people do some sort of hovering deal, you know, their soul hanging around over their corpse for a few days before they figure out that it’s time to move on. I would’ve found out what killed me, if that’d happened, because the ambulance would have come, and the people would have said to each other what killed me.

This is a passage from a book I’m writing about a young man who is enslaved by a goddess, and made to act as an undead guardian to humanity. This example is tricky, because it almost reads as first person past tense, but it is technically present tense, as Paul is speaking in the moment and telling the story.

I think I need to talk myself down from trickiness. I am apt to be too complex. In the meantime, here is another example:

Message: People are good inside, and honesty always pays off.

Point of View: Third person, past tense

Going inside the castle, she rummaged in the junk room until she located a putty knife. She took it out to the front steps and began scraping the wall until she hit smooth stone.

“Much better,” the princess said. The blackened goop peeled away in reams of thick, greasy sludge that dripped and seemed almost alive.

“No, no, please, oh please, no,” groaned the voice from the door. “Not my beautiful lovely sludge! I have been cultivating that sludge for decades, and now you mean to peel away my protective skin with a putty knife? What kind of a princess are you?”

“A cleaning princess,” she said, and got to work with the putty knife. After a few minutes she had cleared a sizable chunk on the wall, and she retrieved her rag, rinsed it clean, and scrubbed the stone. “That’s more like it,” she said, as she saw clean, bright white stone emerge.

And Now, For Contrast, A Terrible One

Before I jump into the bad example, remember that when you choose no message, your message is chosen for you by your psychological precedents. A message will be conveyed, whether or not you formulate one. Is it not better, particularly in the realm of art, to make a choice, and control the emotional outcome as far as you are able?

Bad Writing:

Message: I’m a super cool storyteller, and my readers love me!

Point of View: Psh! I don’t need a point of view! I’m a genius!

The house was dark; she held the phone against her chest, waiting until the time arrived. I knew he would come for me, even though there wasn’t any light to see by.

I’m outside the house, and there are no friends with me this time. I’m going to get that magical necklace she’s got. I don’t know where she got it from. It’ll be mine soon.

Her heart beats, and her knees shake. She doesn’t want to open her eyes.

I open the door. Then I realize I can’t, because it’s locked.

I hear the doorknob jiggle. My opening eyes take in the light from the desktop alarm, and the modem blinks. They aren’t afraid. Not like I am.

He goes to the window, and tries the casing.

Today’s Takeaway

The point of view that you choose inevitably creates a rhetorical framework, and determines the most lasting impression your story will leave on the reader. For example, in my very long and gradual fantasy series, the point of view is third omniscient, past tense, and the framework, the purpose of the novel and the overall message is about sex. Ajalia starts out as a severely-traumatized woman, and the whole impetus of the nine books, the through-line, is her sexual development. The moment she can get busy with Delmar, the story ends, because the point of the story is that sexual trauma is real, lasting, and possible to work through and heal from.

Well, Victor!

I’ve said this before, but I used to work every day with actors, and I found that every single one of them (yes, really) had severe energy blocks through the pelvic cradle. They could not bring their true selves onto the stage, and they could not mate. Their creative selves were almost completely obliterated. More to the point, they were incapable of love.

What Do You Mean, Incapable Of Love?

This problem fascinated me. I chose a female protagonist (Ajalia), because the damage in the women was incredibly worse than than in the men, and I framed the series as a practical exercise in releasing and integrating pelvic trauma. I gave Ajalia a perfect energy match (Delmar), and I went to work on their bodies.

The book unfolds slowly, and gently, because opening and integrating the pelvic cradle is delicate work, and it is dangerous. The characters heal, one piece at a time, and the series ends with a satisfying fade out on the wholly-integrated Delmar and Ajalia about to finally have sex.

The Ultimate Fade-To-Black

There’s a good deal of kissing, and even more talking, but the purpose, the sole motivating factor in the series, is real sex. By real sex, I mean sex in which both partners are whole, complete, and volitional in the practice.

The next time I produce a show, and I end up with three young women sitting forlornly in my living room and asking me to teach them how to date, I will be ready. And the next time I have a probably-gay actor following me around like an abandoned puppy, I shall have something more useful to offer him (because I cannot adopt the whole world, or my entire cast).

And Yes, Actors Have Tried To Move In With Me

The biggest obstacle in the past has been time; I can heal individuals, but the work often takes weeks, if not months, and everything moves like sludge because the subject has to understand what is happening in order to maintain the new energy forms after I’m out of the picture.

Because If Healing Doesn’t Last, It Does More Harm Than Good

Therefore, I wrote an extended analogy. If I meet an actor who is damaged, and longing for more, I can hand off a tidy pile of novels, and then have a ready lexicon for the eventual dialogue and individual work to follow.

This type of thinking may appear ludicrously long-term to some of you; I don’t know, maybe it doesn’t. I am satisfied with all of my preliminary trials of the novels; they appear to function as I intended them to. You, of course, are welcome to try them out yourself, but be warned that they are rather long, and will make a lot of anger and heat rise through your physical shell. Releasing old injuries often manifests as sudden rage, or as a fever.

You’re reading Victor Poole. Don’t buy Caleb until I’ve updated it, okay? And many thanks to Taylor, who took the time to read and review my science fiction novel!

Totally Off-Topic Today

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So I was raised to pretend that I had no emotion. Lately, because of yoga and therapy, my emotions are surfacing, and I am all out of sorts. I don’t want to have any emotions, because the mentally ill people that I knew for most of my life prey on people who have feelings. My main protective measure was to not have any. Of course, I had emotion all the time, but it was buried pretty deep.

Too Many Feelings

Therefore, my life currently sucks. Because all the violent feelings of sadness and anger and weird, inexplicable happiness go surging about, and I don’t feel very safe when I have emotions.

Hopefully You Have Nice Parents

I keep telling myself I’m never going to tell stories about my unfortunate beginnings, but then I get stuck, and what, after all, is the point of a personal blog if you cannot, from time to time, talk endlessly about yourself?

But Victor, It’s A Writing Blog!

Yeah, that’s what I told myself this morning. It seems I did not listen to myself. My brain is circling over and around my past, and I am thinking of ways my stories reflect my early trauma. I have weird superpowers, because my parents wanted to kill me, but didn’t have the guts for prison, so they tried to get my violent brother to snuff me, but he only wanted money and attention from my parents (neither of which he would have gotten in juvie or prison, so that never worked out the way my mom wanted), so he just made unfortunate accidents happen around me from time to time. I had a lot of fake-accidental baseballs to the face in my early years.

Oddly, My Parents Really Liked Me

It took me a long time to put together that they wanted me dead. My mother, you see, really wants to hold court over a funeral for one of her kids before she gets dementia. She’s pretty sure to get it, since her mother had it, and she’s been laying plans for the plausibility of such a condition developing at strangely convenient times.

I Was The Most Useful Kid

My mother saw me as the most expendable of the children, because my father was obsessed with me, and because I didn’t complain very much about pain. She tried, more than once, to get me into unnecessary surgery as a child, because she has a thing about doctors, and she also really likes playing at the personality-disordered version of Florence Nightingale. Unfortunately for her, and luckily for me, I am a sturdy person, and she couldn’t justify the expense when my body kept healing from the minor injuries she wanted operations on.

And They’re Too Poor For Optional Medicine

I have several brothers, but most of them don’t speak to my mother anymore. They pretend she doesn’t exist. The strangest thing about my experiences is that only another person who grew up around severely disordered individuals would believe that what happened to me was real. We have ideas, socially, about what grossly abusive families look like, and most of those ideas aren’t accurate, at least for me.

Surely They Didn’t Want To Kill You, Victor!

Well, it’s a lot of things, you know. They tried starving me, but I’m so damn resilient. I didn’t start going through a proper physical adolescence until I was in my late twenties, because I never had access to enough food. There was always a lot of food in my parents’ house, and everyone else ate it. I wasn’t supposed to eat a lot of food. And again, I feel like a crazy person, because none of this was ever said out loud. There were a lot of unspoken rules about what I was allowed to do, and what everyone else could do to me. The one time my parents were pretty upfront with their desires (aside from the unnecessary operations with my mom) was when one of the other kids was trying to cultivate an aesthetic depression. Wait, I should back up and explain.

For Some People, Depression Is A Satisfying Lifestyle

My father’s side is a sort of menagerie of depressive individuals. Everybody is supposed to be depressed, and there are cozy family get-togethers where everyone who isn’t present is stripped down and discussed with all the empathy and affection one might proffer a serial killer. They get hold of the little kids as early as they can, and train them to hate themselves. Mostly with religion twisted upside down.

Ah, Mental Disorder Mixed With Worship!

On another awful note, my father believes he is a god. No, really. He also really wants to divorce my mother, but he is afraid of courthouses because of a misspent youth, and he also doesn’t want my grandfather to cut him off from the inheritance my dad has deluded himself into thinking is coming his way someday. Divorce is not allowed.

They Also Steal And Cheat

My parents live like professional beggars. I don’t really want to talk about this anymore, but my blogging gear is stalled, and hey, backstory is always fun, right? I’ve been trying to write a useful post for several days now, and all I can get out is that I hate myself and I have a lot of problems.

Except I Don’t, Really. Only Kinda

Ironically, I don’t have many problems anymore, but I’ve never let myself feel all the things that go along with people trying to kill you. The goal, you know, was for me to develop some kind of plausible disease that would require endless doctor visits, and hopefully surgery. One of my aunts has a very ill child, and my mother has never gotten over her jealousy. Second best would have been me dying in a car accident or from plausibly-deniable suicide. Fortunately for me, my parents are stupid, and my dad has been afraid of me since I was pretty little. He figured out when I was about five that I would turn vicious on him if he hurt me openly, so he settled in to screw with my head.

Which Worked For A While, As We Can See

Anyway, lately I’m trying to decide if my acting career has been formed on the basis of my parents’ rejection and abuse. You know, am I trying to win acceptance by proxy from strangers? That sort of thing. I’m really not sure. The element I like so much about writing is that I can control the process; I don’t need to coordinate twenty people’s schedules and then coax their personalities into cooperating together. Characters, you know, are less recalcitrant than live persons, and I also have no budgetary constraints for set dressing and properties. Ironically, I have more resources now to do the work I was doing before with theatre, but my will to do so is wavering. It’s just so calm and peaceful in the evenings these days, and no one knocks on my door at nine at night, wanting to hang and chat about their life. Okay, let’s be serious here, no one came to chat about their life; they came for therapy. I’m like a psychology vending machine for surface ills. I am pretty interested in fixing my own problems right now.

On A Lighter Note

I’m trying to work up the nerve to study perspective and composition more thoroughly. One of the rules of my upbringing was that I could never be competent at math, because it made my father feel inadequate. He can’t do algebra. I did advanced maths in school, but I wasn’t supposed to remember or apply any of them. The angles and measurements of perspective work terrify me. Exposure therapy!

You’re reading Victor Poole. This book is the most accurate portrayal of my folks. Hopefully tomorrow I’ll be back to writing about fiction. Go me!

The Good Fairies Of Writing Don’t Exist, But Your Ingenuity Does

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It is important for the events in your book to have a certain charm; an element of coolness, or of social suavity builds the reader into a mental state where they want to be where the book happens. They want to hang around the characters, and they want to be part of the various adventures a-happening in the work.

Who’s The Coolest Person You Know?

What makes people cool? And that means, what makes the characters seem like the sorta people you would pay to stick around and stare at (because this is what paying for a novel and reading it means)? We don’t usually talk about making our writing cool, because many of us are trying to prove ourselves to Mrs. Hornswaggle from fifth grade who told us we would never write a whole book, or we’re secretly aiming for a prestigious award from the old people who have “arrived” on the literary authority scene, or we just want people to coo about how poetic our descriptions of the moon really are (in paragraphs, and publicly).

Oh, Victor, I Don’t Want Any Of Those Things!

But you want to be one of those authors who are mentioned in the big newspapers, and you want young people to call you and email you, begging for encouragement and advice, and you want to have a foreign bank account and a team of lawyers who are negotiating a TV contract for your latest novel. Right?

Okay, Maybe You Just Want A Tidy Book Deal

And an agent, and a fat advance with talented designers scurrying over your book . . . right? How do you actually, in real life, go about getting those things? Most people whom I have spoken to on the subject believe that such golden circumstances fall into individual laps by the grace of the good writing fairies. There is a moderate belief, in the people I’ve known, towards hard work and perseverance, but the main thing in their hearts is good old dumb luck and happenstance.

Happenstance Means Stagnation

There is work that makes a character cool, but there isn’t exactly a guide anywhere about, because if anyone had figured out how to reliably make people cool (and characters similarly cool), they would probably be selling their awesome methods. Right? One of the key draws of smoking, according to a book I read many years ago, is the sexually-slick aura of cool, older teenagers smoking around the vulnerable youngsters, who absorb the idea that cigarettes=awesome, and later take up the habit themselves.

I Knew An Actor Who Carried A Pack With Him For Fun (He Didn’t Smoke)

Smoking doesn’t make someone cool, but their energy carriage, style of hygiene, and attitude towards sexuality does. How can you impart some of these qualities to your main characters, in order to lure readers into a secret fascination with your creations? Huh. I got all the way down here, and I don’t want to explain this to you now. How awkward.

Squirrel!

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Ah, well. You know, I once spent half a shift in a casual dining place teaching my coworker how to pick up dates. He carried himself like a little boy, and had never learned to open his sternum or balance his shoulders over his hips. He had great hair, though, and he was popular. If he diligently eased himself out of the slouching posture of a ten-year-old boy, I was sure he would find romance easily enough. I had another lady come to me several times for work on her writing (she wanted to write plays). She was a puzzle, because I could never tell if she was genuinely stupid or really stubborn. I took a chance on her intelligence, and told her what I thought (which would form the subject of another blog about mixing gender types). Turns out, she was stubborn, not stupid, and though her dating life began to make marginal progress, she was unwilling (see, stubbornness) to apply any changes to her writing process.

Or You’re Wrong About Everything, Victor!

Always a possibility, my friends. Always on the horizon, the possibility of being a redundant old crank, but let’s get back to the topic at hand: attractive characters with a thick veneer of “cool.” To begin with, let us remember that a majority of persons in the world are heavily resistant to the influence of “cool” people, because of feelings of rejection and un-coolness, among other things. So if you’re aiming for attractive, emotionally-edible characters, keep in mind that much of your audience kind of hates attractive and awesome characters. You must therefore prepare yourself to overcome many objections (unconscious ones), and deep emotional resistance to your awesome characters.

Well, Where’s The Part Where You Tell Me About Characters, Victor?

I’m starting to close my systems up. I haven’t had a sealed system for a long time, you know. Constant tinkering, and active grafts and dilutions of pre-installed toxicity have motivated me to operate with an open core for years now; transitioning to genuine privacy is definitely a challenge. I don’t know if you have any idea what I’m talking about, but hey, hey! Let’s get straight to some examples!

Examples

Bad Writing:

Ocher, reclining beside the delicate female, made noises that attracted her sincerest attention. He seemed not-knowing what to say afterwards. He thought about mentioning the weather and the lack of a bright sky.

“It was not long ago when the two persons we were, you and I, had met,” he said.

She was silent, like a daisy reflecting on the purpose of life, and her eyes turned becomingly towards the pavement, broad and deep.

Ocher noticed each detail of her eyelashes. If only I were not married! Retribution in the form of middle age crept upon him, as it had been for much time now, and he felt twisted by the inevitability of his rejection by pretty girls he met who were in such a younger mental space than he was.

He regretted his similarly-middling wife, but she, alas, was not to know of his traitorous thinkings, as she was not present, and had been absent from the thoughts of his heart for many months now.

She turned her gaze on him, and if he had not already seated himself, the force of her glittering eyes would have cast a well of immediate gravity over his body, dragging his aged sinews now down to the seat where, already, he sat.

They sat for a very long time without speaking. She thought about things, and he tried to figure out if there was any hope for his tender feelings before the judgement of her bright eyes. Sigh. He thought. Her bright eyes.

He could not bring himself to speak to her of his feelings, and they two sat, thinking of different things. They thought of different things entirely. So different that they might have been from very different places. He remembered that they were.

Good Writing:

Ocher sat down on the steps near Ajalia, uttering a weary groan. He put his elbows back on the stone steps, and looked up at the sky.

“Are you usually that hard on him?” he asked idly.

“No,” Ajalia said. “Usually it’s coddling and kisses on the cheek, but he’s been temperamental today.”

“The new clothes must be going to his head,” Ocher said with a laugh. Ajalia looked at Ocher’s thick beard, which concealed a grim smile.

“Why do you stay with the Thief Lord?” she asked. Ocher did not look at her. She thought that he was avoiding her eyes.

“You’re a very uncomfortable person,” he observed.

“Goodbye,” she said pointedly. He looked over at her, and the smile had gone away. An expression of reaching, or of longing for something long lost, was in his eyes.

“I’m sorry,” he said.

“You’re not,” she told him. “You’re sorry that I don’t lie.”

“I’m sure you lie plenty,” Ocher said easily, resettling himself on the steps. “Just not about old men like me.”

“I don’t lie about anyone,” Ajalia told him.

“You lie about that young man,” Ocher said at once, his eyes fixed on the direction Delmar had gone.

“You don’t know that,” Ajalia said.

“He’s in love with you,” Ocher said. He sounded jealous.

“You’re guessing, aren’t you?” Ajalia asked him. Ocher laughed bitterly, and rubbed at his chin.

“I think he’d be a fool not to be,” Ocher said.

“Why, because I’m lovable?” Ajalia retorted. Ocher looked at her, and Ajalia did not enjoy the kind of fire that sparked in his eyes.

There Are No Writing Fairies

A lot of people (that I have known, who write) hide behind authorship as a way to avoid the whole popularity contest of life. They figure that they don’t have to become suave and desirable, because they can channel their wonderful personalities into their characters. What actually happens is that your characters reflect your inner level of social adeptness, so hiding behind what amounts to a reflection of your deepest insecurities won’t actually work. Energy carriage, style of hygiene, and attitude to sexuality; these are the broad categories that determine how cool you are. The very good news is that all these areas are highly receptive to alteration in every stage of life.

You’re reading a blog about writing by Victor Poole. My editor says Ocher is really cool. Your next vacation will go more smoothly if you bring a nice book along.

What Does Talent Really Mean?

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Every morning when I open my current work-in-progress, the same thought confronts me: (well, it’s a question, really) Do I have enough talent?

And What Is Talent, Really?

Perhaps asking yourself if you have any talent is something you tend to do as well. I know for me, my greatest obstacle has been wondering, always wondering, if I’m a worthwhile investment, or if I’m one of “those” people. (I don’t even know what I mean by “those” people, but they definitely exist in my mind, and they are a powerful deterrent to following my dreams.)

Imaginary Strangers Can Be Scary

I realized something a few months ago. Well, I started to realize it a few years ago, but that realization was about acting, and we’re talking about writing now. My writing journey is much more recent than my acting journey. We can start with my acting discovery, though.

Let Us Examine The Actor

You might have acted in some things yourself; many writers dabble in the performing arts at some point. You were probably pretty good, and you probably thought, briefly or more intensely, about becoming a professional.

But Writing Won Out, Probably

I had a student, an acting student, many years ago, who might have been a little like you. She was very serious about developing her talent, and she was very, very concerned with doing everything right the first time.

She Was So Earnest

I will be honest with you; when this girl first came into my professor’s class (I was an acting assistant, but my boss had an open mind, and I taught most of his classes for a year), she had all the hallmarks of a soured high school actor (this was at a large university).

What’s A Soured High School Actor Like, Victor?

Stiff, over-choreographed, self-conscious, and very, very high strung. This girl worked her butt off on everything to do with acting, but her work was terrible. I gave her correct methods and specific direction, and after massive amounts of work, she started to become natural, spontaneous, and a joy to watch.

It Took A Couple Of Years

The question this girl struggled with, more than any other, was this same question that I run up against in the early mornings. (I don’t know about you, but if I don’t write before the sun is properly risen, I have a hard time writing anything at all!) She wanted to know if she had talent. She wanted to know if she had enough talent. And she wanted to know if anyone else was going to be able to see and experience her talent.

Am I Good Enough?

At bottom, this is really a different question; when we ask ourselves about talent, we aren’t asking if we’re popular enough, or good-looking enough, or fit enough. We’re really asking, “Am I worth it?” We are referring to our essential sense of self. Talent is tied to our inextricable part of being, our spark of life that makes us us. This girl was afraid that she, her true self, was not worth it, and to compensate for this fear, she worked and worked and worked to make up for a perceived lack within herself.

Accept You As You Are

I am telling myself now the same thing I told this actor years ago, and I will tell it to you as well; good acting, good writing, and good performance come from acceptance. Only when you allow yourself to be what you are, without any striving adornment or frantic grasping at artificial concealment will your true self arc out of your body and interact with the soul of another.

That Meeting Of Inner Selves Is Art

When we say talent, what we really mean is authentic connection. “He’s so talented.” What we’re saying, when we say that, is that he reaches into a part of us that makes us feel whole, and seen. “She has so much talent.” This is what we say when we see a reflection of our deep humanity.

Are You Talented?

So. Do you have talent? And is it enough talent? And do I have talent? And did this actor have talent? Yes. Instead of asking yourself if you have talent, ask yourself if you can share your authentic self with another. Ask yourself if you can strip away the mask of competence, and the shadow of pretending. Ask yourself if you are willing to show courage and be a beacon of friendship to others like you.

The Sharing Of Self, With Technical Finesse, Makes Great Writing

If you can answer yes to any of those questions, you have plenty of talent. You are enough, and your creation, your communication with others, is enough. Today, or tomorrow morning, or whenever it is that you sit down to write, when you feel yourself becoming edgy and nervous, ask yourself, “Can I share my authentic sense of self with someone else?”

Are You Willing To Share?

No one is born with the ready-made ability to speak, or to write, or to type. We are all, however, born with the desire and the ability to share our deepest selves (look at the way infants shriek; that desperate wail is a piercing communication). You can communicate, and you can learn to be yourself through story. That is talent. I believe in you. You are enough.

You’re reading a blog about writing by Victor Poole. My editor loves this book. The frogs in the Amazon rainforest have a book club, and they’re going to read Into the East next week.

Want To Be A Successful Writer? Give Up Now

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A very strange thing happened to me when I started taking myself seriously as a writer; I couldn’t write anymore (this was many years ago). I felt so much pressure to write as well as I possibly could that I froze up and didn’t dare write anything that felt wrong. Because I had too little experience making stories, this meant that most everything unfamiliar felt strange and new, and therefore wrong.

So Much Pressure To Be Perfect Right From The Beginning

So I didn’t write much. I had some very lovely chapter beginnings, and one story that had an excellent collection of scenes almost completed, but I could not write an actual book. I would sit down regularly, as I supposed all earnest someday-authors must, and I would attempt to squeeze words out of myself.

Squeezing Words Out Doesn’t Work If All The Words Have To Be Perfect

It never worked. I was still convinced that I would, at some point, and by sheer force of will, become an author, but I could never break past the unendurable pressure to be really, perfectly good, right now, no matter what.

No Mistakes, Victor Poole!

I took up poetry, which I was good enough at to somewhat make up for my failings as a novelist. Eventually, and because I was an actor, I took up playwriting, which I turned out to be quite good at. The problems of conflict and continuity still plagued me, but I was good enough at dialogue to gloss over my inability to plot.

Failed Novelist, Average Poet And Playwright

Still, I planned on being a writer of books. I was dead-set on it. The years passed, and I never sat down and attempted to force myself to write books anymore. I was busy doing other things, and writing different kinds of projects. The idea of books nagged at me, though. I wanted more than anything else to write novels. They were, to me, the legitimate form of writerly creation.

Just ‘Cause I Like Books

Something really interesting happens when you give up on a long-held ambition. You relax, and many things that have been pushed under the surface by the pressure of expectation and fear begin to rise up, and become part of your awareness. I’ve seen this with actors; only when they become thoroughly discouraged, and say, “Well, I can’t do it. Nothing is working,” do they allow themselves to risk. Only when they embrace failure, and the humiliation of expected crash-and-burn work do they begin to be able to use their real selves in the act of creation.

And So, I Gave Up

I gave up on writing great novels. I stopped telling myself that I was going to be really good at books. I stopped believing that I had what it took to succeed. So much time had passed, and I had failed so unilaterally to write any kind of a book, that I started coming to terms with the fact that what I was doing was not working at all. I started telling myself that I was wrong, and that my future self would not spontaneously erupt into a competent novelist.

Goodbye, Unrealistic Expectations; Hello, Failure

At first, this made me very sad. I didn’t want to feel like a failure. I wanted to be good at things. I wanted to be proud of myself. Giving up on such a long-held ambition made me feel really stupid, and like I had failed an ultimate test of character by not finding some way to follow through on doing what I wanted.

Woe Is Me, Or Woe Was Me, At The Time

But, with reality staring me in the face, and cognizant of the fact that I had not even tried to write a single chapter of a novel for literally years, I gave up. After I felt all the accompanying emotions of miserable failure, I started to look about with some interest. I could not be a successful author, I thought, and there was no longer any pressure to write well. In this newfound freedom from expectation, I found that I kinda sorta wanted to sit down and write a book.

Once I Didn’t Have To, I Kinda Sorta Wanted To

You know, just for fun. Just for me. Because I didn’t have to write a good book, or a non-embarrassing book, or a coherent book any longer.

I Could Write Garbage! It Was Freeing!

So I wrote a book. I enjoyed myself so much that I started studying plot, and scene-building strategies. I spent several frantic months imitating great storytellers, as an exercise in storytelling.

I Wrote Many Novellas At This Point

A new ambition began to burn in me. I would no longer become a successful author; now, I wanted to be a person who actually finished projects. That, I thought, was a pretty achievable dream. After all, I had proven to myself that I could actually, in real life, write a whole book.

So I Finished Projects; I’m Nearly Caught Up Now

I spent more years writing books. Now I have come up against another expectation: I want to finish a great many books in an integrated world. As I approach this emotion, I am already beginning to give up. I’ve learned that giving up, and embracing utter, miserable failure is the quickest route to getting exactly what I want.

You’re reading a blog about writing by Victor Poole. My books, which I never thought I would write, are here. I’m working on a companion series about Philas right now.

The Fastest And Easiest Way To Open Your Pelvic Cradle

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I developed my own performance philosophy, because it became apparent to me that no one had a functional one. I started to realize the dire state of this matter when I was reading original translations of Chekhov (not the playwright, the actor) and Stanislavsky (the actor/director). Chekhov and Stanislavsky worked together for a time until Chekhov threw a massive temper tantrum over semantics and branched off into his own performance technique.

Michael Chekhov Was Anton Chekhov’s Nephew

The “ah-ha!” moment for me came when I was comparing these two Russian methodologies (I had been studying Shakespeare performance methods, and some Dada-ist garbage alongside rhetorical analysis and third-generational Marxist bodies of work), and I realized that they–each of them, quite earnestly–were talking about exactly the same end goal, and trying to start a war over whether they should pummel actors with one set of words or another. They were literally fighting over which words they ought to use to describe the same end results.

Stanislavsky Was A Terrible Director

I spent about six years of my life studying actors as they rehearsed and performed in classrooms, tiny audition rooms, and on stages of all sorts. I acted myself, and I watched the dynamics that unfolded over several moderately-budgeted film projects. I was fascinated by the ever-increasing gap between functional performance (by which I mean, acting, storytelling, that resonated deeply with an audience) and spoken or practiced methodology.

Shakespeare Was Handled The Worst, By Far

No one knew what they were doing; the best performers were destroyed by horrible directing and teaching, and support materials were often designed to deliberately hobble the actors or build a wedge of hatred and fear between the performers and the audience.

Gosh, Victor, How Did You Learn Anything?

I met two, no, make that three, good directors over these years, and I compared them exhaustively to the many, many terrible, harmful, and utterly incompetent directors that proliferated around them. Also, remember, I was studying functional source material at the same time (excellent French plays, treatments on Alexander technique, and heavy doses of Graham, Balanchine, and newer American theatre phenomenons, among other things).

Dude, This Is Not An Acting Blog, You Dirty Cross-Pollinator!

All this to say, I found, as I read Michael Chekhov’s ardent haranguing, that no one had a coherent performance philosophy at all–and I will say here, no one had a performance philosophy that functioned. By which I mean, actually worked. And by that I mean that any performance philosophy that cannot be applied by a student actor and create sustainable, measurable results in audience reaction, popularity, and emotional connection as an ensemble and as an individual figure to the public, is only a pile of ego-stroking hot air.

So I Made My Own. Like A Mad Scientist.

I didn’t cackle while I developed it, though I did become personally magnetic, and was borderline stalked by several people of both genders who found a sudden and urgent need to cultivate my favor. When I had the bare bones of a performance philosophy, I started running trials. I tweaked things. I procured several dozen willing guinea pigs in the form of student and community theatre actors, and I applied my techniques to their bodies and personalities.

Enter The Blocked Pelvic Cradle

I found an interesting phenomenon as I tested; I could make very hot, emotionally-viable actors, but they all had the same energy blocks. Every single one of them were blocked through their foundational motion carriage. And here is where I came up against a significant problem; human beings, once blocked through the pelvic cradle, are like grievously-wounded wolves. They bite, metaphorically, because their energy source is cut off, and they are, after a manner of speaking, suffering a slow death of personality.

How Do I Find Out If My Pelvic Cradle Is Blocked, Victor?

Well, the bad news is that your pelvic cradle is probably blocked. The good news is that you can open the energy flow, and remove the obstructions, if you . . .

Duh Duh Duuuuuuh!

Yeah, I recognize this feeling. It’s the feeling I get when I’m about to show how to do something profound. Well, I’m trying something new today. I’m not going to tell you how to work through your energy blocks (I wrote some books for that). When you get tired of that dried-up numb feeling in your hip sockets, shoot me an email, and I’ll think about it.

You’re reading Victor Poole. I was raised to be invisible, and to serve the whims of all other people. I am undoing my early programming. Despite my unfortunate beginnings, my comprehensive performance philosophy, which is painstakingly illustrated via allegory in these nine books, works exceptionally well.

The Quick And Easy Guide To Writing Human Nature

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The frill is going to extend up along the side of the head, and the skin will have a silvery tint. I haven’t put in the dragon stone yet, either, but this is one of the beasts from The Second Queen, which I am editing right now.

New Fantasy Book, Very Exciting, Coming Soon!

I actually wrote the first half of this book almost four years ago, and then hit my goal of fifty thousand words and stopped. I wrote a little tag at the bottom of the last chapter; it read, “to be continued . . .”, which I felt was appropriately ominous.

Now It Is 120k Words, And Quite Intoxicating

I looked up one of my old acting rivals last night, just to make sure I’m not as behind as I sometimes feel I am (I’m not behind at all). There are only a couple of genuinely successful people (actors) from my school, and none from my age group. I check periodically, to make sure no one has rocketed to astronomic success before me.

Victor Poole Is A Jealous Person!

I have to start eating more fat. My body is partway through developing into adulthood, and I have the opposite problem of many people, where I have to make sure I eat enough food.

And I’m Slowly Bulking My Arms

Rose, the cat who haunts my house, has discovered the joys of having her undercoat brushed out (you’re welcome, Rose), and now she shadows me along the kitchen counter in the wee hours, mewling appealingly for attention.

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This is her before brushing. She is rather sleeker now.

Here’s The Writing Part

Poor writing explains relationships from a standpoint of fairness and equality; the narrative voice plays nice with the characters, and attempts to frame the story within an obviously idealistic world, where all the humans make an effort to get along and build each other up, aside from one or two bad apples who are misunderstood antagonists.

To Write Human Nature, Drop The Fair And Nice Parts

Excellent writing shows the inequality, both between individuals, and between established roles in society. Good writing, and writing that exposes human nature, comes from a framework of predatory abuse. The antagonist is generally a person who recognizes the cannibalistic nature of social exchange, and exploits it without apology or remorse. The protagonist is a genuine person who goes more than halfway to meet people in an exchange of goodwill and fellowship. The conflict in the story arises from the clash of the selfish against the disinterested human.

Examples

Bad Writing:

Berthold pushed back his hair, and squinted into the twilight. Shooting was running over schedule, and his wife would be disappointed that he was late for dinner again. So difficult, he thought, to balance the demands of an artistic career with a home life. Relationships were wonderful, though.

Greg fussed over the camera with Joel, and then waved for the sound guy to come over. They were working very hard to set up the next scene.

Berthold felt so lucky to be the star. He dug his feet into the black soil, and suppressed a contented sigh. I’m going to be famous, he told himself, and imagined the tamales that were swiftly going cold at home.

“Here we go,” Greg called, clapping his hands together. “This is it, Berthold. We’re all counting on you.”

Good Writing:

“We’re going to go over that part again,” Greg said, propping his script against his hip and staring shrewdly at Berthold. “Listen, I like what you’re doing, but I need it to feel more, um, fresh. Like you’re waking up into the world for the first time.”

“Okay,” Berthold said. He was thinking of the way his wife would be staring at her phone, waiting for a text. His was turned off, per production rules.

“Just, can you be more innocent about it? Like, pretend you’re a bird.” Greg reached out a hand, and mussed Berthold’s hair to the side. “Like a hungry bird.”

“Okay,” Berthold said again.

“And don’t do that, that smiley thing when you say ‘regret.’ Give me, like, a burst of orange there.”

“Got it,” Berthold replied.

Writing Human Nature Requires Cynicism

And remember, you have a unique perspective on a whole lot of things you’ve lived through. If you frame your experiences with a disillusioned and honest eye, your writing will improve a great deal. And also remember, people are only nice if they’re the protagonist, or if they’re selling something.

You’re reading Victor Poole. Look! I’m selling something! Thursday is the fourth day of the week, and The Dead Falcon is the fourth book in this series.