Incorporating Dysfunction With Style

I knew a really rude woman a long time ago. I avoided her for quite a while, and we ended up being in the same show together. I avoided her then, too. Her life was a train wreck, and she had no personal boundaries and some really strange ideas about how to go about getting what she wanted (fame, fortune, and glory).

She Was An Actor

I didn’t ever want to work with her because she was a trailing comet of destruction wherever she went, but my husband talked me into it. He thought I would benefit from a study of her dysfunction.

So I studied her dysfunction, and I worked with her for a while on her wild schemes. She’d been trying to do things by herself for a long time, but she had no discipline and zero people skills, so she never got anywhere and made a lot of enemies.

Victor Poole Has Discipline!

Anyway, long story short, I studied her for a while and cobbled a few usable theatrical ideas out of her incoherency, in the name of learning things.

I learned things.

Partway through this social experiment, I wrote a short script that detailed our actual interactions, this woman’s and mine. I wrote down almost verbatim things that she had said to me, though I softened them a bit to make her sound less insane and harsh, and then I had her read the script.

And What Did She Say?

She didn’t recognize herself. In fact, she told me upon finishing it that I needed to rewrite the character based on her, because, in her words, no one in real life talks like that or is that mean.

That was the end of our actual relationship. I started the gradual fade-out and extrication of my work from her messy life. I was startled by her ability to lie to herself, to cohabit reality and her own fantasy version of events. I mean, she was practically insane, in her determination to ignore contextual and social cues and rewrite events in her own mind.

Crazy, crazy lady. Very unhealthy.

Back To Business

Now, as promised, here’s how to incorporate dysfunction with style.

  1. Everyone is dysfunctional. Acknowledge foibles.
  2. Most people don’t want to be dysfunctional. Honor a character’s internal drive to be whole and special.
  3. Characters become good or evil to the reader when they are confronted with their dysfunction and choose either to grow towards healthy, moral behavior, or to sink further into willful depravity and emotional decay. Show consistency in the ethical progression of each character.
  4. Your job as the writer is to capture the context of dysfunctional behavior and consistently track the upgrading or downgrading of each character’s moral progression.

Samples

BAD Writing:

Rob was a bad boy; this is what he told himself when he brushed his hair in the morning, and he dreamed of motorcycles and adoring fangirls when he rode his beat-up bicycle home from his job at the ice cream store.

Rob’s mother hated him. He pretended not to notice, and when Rob got a girlfriend, he practiced hating her the same way. Rob learned to be hot. He cut his shirts off at the midriff and tangled with cruel boys after school.

Rob’s ambition was to be a tyrant of small business, but Rob could not add. This caused problems for Rob’s business ambitions, and Rob avoided the idea of accountancy or arithmetic with an assiduity that ruined his grades.

GOOD Writing:

Rob watched the neighbor girl leaving her house for the umpteenth time and slipped out the back door to meet her across the street.

“Oh, it’s you,” Rob said casually, slipping his hands into his pockets and tensing his arms.

“Nope,” the girl said without looking around. Rob glared at her and turned around, scuffing his shoes and telling himself that she’d be sorry when he did get a girlfriend. The girl glanced over her shoulder when she was sure he wasn’t looking and checked out his ass.

Rob pretended he’d only come out for some fresh air and wandered down the street with burning cheeks and some impotent fury in his heart. He had no idea that the neighbor girl had been stalking him with almost as much assiduity as he’d been watching her.

And So

Let us remember that all people have energy foibles, and that handling characters with empathy and hope leads to a smoother, more enjoyable reading experience for the reader. Also let’s remember that context, wider context, is required for good and evil to fully become engaged in character development (as in, you either need to touch on established social norms or else do some world-and-character solidifying work before the reader will get drawn fully into your moral dilemmas. But all that’s obvious.

You’re reading Victor Poole, and in my current novel, galactic politicians are metaphorically tearing their hair out over my leading gangster’s sudden and unprecedented alliance.

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Character Sketch From A Bus Stop (i.e. Imagination Games)

So there’s this guy. I don’t really know him so much as I know of him. I mean, we’ve never spoken before, but I people-watch habitually (writer, much?), and one of my quirks as a sabbatical-taking director is studying energy composition and looking at what fixes I would make over a particular person’s body in order to make them pop on stage.

It’s a fun hobby.

I’m a fun director. BTW. If you were wondering. My actors usually end up having severe, temporary, completely unrequited crushes on me, which I use to make the scene work more charismatic. I also occasionally hook up my actors with each other to keep them from getting all blue-bally over me. Because that’s boring. Anyway.

So there’s this guy, and he pretends to everyone, even to himself, that he is super-authentic-down-to-the-roots-of-my-soul-special-eternally-forever-unique. Like, the really super exceptional kind of guy.

He believes it in his conscious mind and he’s clearly built some pseudo-intellectual arguments over how advanced and interesting he is for having outgrown fully half of the human race as far as seeing them in equal terms.

Because he also hates women. Did I mention that part? I guess I hadn’t yet.

Poor guy. Anyway, so he believes he’s super superior, right? And here I have the effrontery to claim, or infer, if you like, that he isn’t. Gosh, I have so much gall, right?

But the thing that’s interesting about this guy (and I’ve used his type before in acting work, just in scenes, not in an actual show because I don’t like casting men who actively hate their scene partners) . . . Let me start that sentence over now. The thing that’s interesting about this guy is that his internal energy composition is soooo average. Like, almost unnaturally conventional, and then it’s bent around in a complicated arabesque around his spine and finishes in a spear point down around his ass. Like, in energy terms he has a large, deadly javelin pointing straight out of his ass, with the tip lined up to the surface of his opening.

Seriously, it’s like a black widow lying in wait at the verge of some benign-looking crevice, except the trap is for genuinely gay guys. He’s setting this complex trap and waiting for some poor, unsuspecting and pure-hearted man to stumble over his camouflaged fake-gay self so that he can energetically cauterize the poor man’s sex parts.

I’m actually serious.

Luckily for men in general, this angry guy I’m talking about, the one with an energy spear twisting up against his ass, is so remarkably and obviously straight that he would never even register a tiny little whiff of ‘maybe’ on any rational person’s gaydar.

So the gay population, it seems so far, is totally safe from this guy’s nefarious plots to subjugate and poison a partner’s self-respect with a toxic energy taint.

Anyway, I was thinking about this guy because of the original twist in his energy sub-structures. You see, the energy spear part is practically external. The guy exudes toxic danger to genuine intimacy. That part of his energy is almost on the surface for anyone looking to see how he would be as a kissing-or-more partner.

The interesting part is wrapped around and around his spine, deep in the thoracic vertebrae.

Hey, have I ever told you the story about that one time I took human anatomy at university, because I wanted to study the cadavers for art purposes, and the TA running my lab section had everyone introduce themselves on the first day, and literally every other major was something like pre-med or whatever, and I’m over here and it gets to be my turn, so everyone looks at me and I say, “I’m an acting major,” and the TA bursts out laughing and the rest of the students sort of get confused, tilted faces while they stare at me? Then I explained about the art thing, and the TA got over his hilarity and proceeded with the class. Anyway, I found that funny. Ahem.

So the guy, this toxic-to-people average guy’s interesting energy substructures are coiled around his spine, just around his thoracic vertebrae, and the most compelling part is the root of the whole energy dysfunction, which you have to be someone like me to see.

There’s a shape kind of like a short, mashed-up dagger, like a length of steel that was heated in a forge and then squeezed by a giant, impermeable-to-heat hand, so there are squiggles and ruined jumbles all along the length, and that short dagger of squished-up metal is laid just against the inner side of his spine, from the mid-point of his ribs down to about two inches above his pelvic cradle.

Fascinating. The origin of the energy piece is inconsequential to our discussion, as it’s completely mundane and contextually unremarkable, but the interesting part is how well-preserved the piece of damage is.

Oh, I didn’t say that, but the metal dagger is preserved emotional damage. It’s a memory, wrapped up in visceral, hardened sensation and saved up against his spine.

This average guy has a grudge against a woman, and he’s saved it up so carefully, and preserved it with such much raw devotion and thought that it’s become the splinter of self that drives his contrived sexuality, his entire energy carriage, and his functional personality.

He’s like an elephant impaled through the heart with a rod of splintered iron and walking around pretending to be an invisible ghost. Does that make any sense? I didn’t really understand that myself, but I do know what I mean. He’s pretending to be something he’s not because he has found, and judging by his energy core he found this out decades ago, that when he is his authentic self, and when he so much as acts friendly towards a female-presenting person, his damage begins to slip out of his control. The dagger buried against his spine heals.

This guy doesn’t want to heal. He wants to hold his grudge. So, over time he realized that if he wanted to keep his damage, his grudge, saved up and consecrated so carefully against his spine, he had to control and monitor his exposure to healthy female energy. So he very gradually ‘discovered’ that he was gay, except he isn’t gay. His internal energy is not attracted that way to traditionally male energy structures, and doesn’t respond, so then he had to alter further and create traps and poisons to keep male attention off, too. Because he wants the social shielding of ‘oh, I’m gay,’ without any of the obligation or need to be actually kind and social with actually gay men.

He’s kind of a skunk. Anyway, I was thinking about that today because I was imagining how vitriolic and possessively furious he would get if anyone like me (a director) ever prodded at his thoracic vertebrae and shifted his oh-so-carefully preserved grudge against one particular female from tons of years ago. I imagine he would get irrationally angry super fast.

There is a good reason why I don’t use actors like this, by the way. Irrational outbursts and a tendency towards life-long vendettas is part of the reason. Another part is that they taste sour on stage. I mean, in an authentically-built scene, where the actors are pinging emotion back and forth, this guy’s energy would taint the overall performance because he’s so used to damaging people in subtle and behind-the-curtains sorts of ways. He could get into great acting shape, for a true beginner learning the craft and testing the waters, in about two weeks if he ever let go of that dagger, but he’d have to choose to do that, first, and then let go of controlling his physiological response to the current experiences of his life.

Once he let the dagger against the inner wall of his spine melt away, the rest of that coiled-up arabesque of internal substructure would unwrap itself easily. The spear against his inner ass would dissipate into friendly muscular energy. He’d certainly start to smile more, and he might make friends who aren’t terrified of him.

He also might find that he actually likes male touch, which would be situationally ironic, you know. I don’t know if he’d be able to successfully date women in healthy ways without actual, external therapy with an actual, flesh-and-blood, competent practitioner. I mean, all his day-to-day coping mechanisms for navigating any manner of relationship to a female are shot all to hell. He could manage being somewhat authentically gay after he got rid of the damage, though. Poor guy.

Anyway, today is Tuesday, and my book is coming along well. I don’t think this guy is going to let go of the dagger, by the way. He’s been keeping such hold over it (in the manner of ‘my precious’ clinging and polishing) for such a very long time that his external life has come to resemble his internal conditions. He hasn’t got an emotional safety net, in an authentic energy, true-soul sense, of any kind, so the motivation to change isn’t there.

He might get married to a woman with poor boundaries, though, and produce babies and then abuse all of them verbally for the rest of his life. Being attached to a live female would give him additional fuel to burn the fires of proverbial rage against his original grudge-subject.

I think that the whole situation is sad, and I find the long-term ramifications of obsessive grudge-holding fascinating.

You’re reading Victor Poole, and in my current novel, Claire the dragon is thinking whimsically of sharing her dragon stones with the friendly doctor.

Just A Sample Today

 

Horrible Writing:

Uller went across the sea and gathered up some really amazing flowers for a spell that the witch said would make him really happy, but it turned out the spell worked better than he’d imagined and he controlled all the things he’d wanted to master as well as some other things.

Uller was a very happy guy after the flowers turned out to be so awesome. Also, they had originally been planted by some people who wanted to imitate some other people over the sea, so the flowers were special.

Ullar kept the leaves and the petals of the flowers after the spell was over because he figured it would be a really great idea to find out how things were by looking at the dried-up fragments.

Better Writing:

Uller gripped the flowers in his fist, willing them to be what they were supposed to be, what the old woman had promised. The heads of the yellow blossoms drooped like crying birds and the stems had gone limp two days ago. He couldn’t have come any faster than he had; he couldn’t speed up time. Yet.

Uller strode up the sod path to the old woman’s hut and pounded on the door. Be home, he thought. He couldn’t command the bodies of those who worked magic. Not yet. But soon, if the flowers did what she’d promised, if they were what she’d said. Uller kicked the door in and peered inside.

“Hello?” he called.

You’re reading Victor Poole and in my current novel, an alien prince is having a fight with a security man.

Look At Me, I’m In A Good Mood!

I remembered today what it feels like to piss off strangers. I used to do that all the time on accident. Actually, there’s kind of this pattern I have, where I say what I really think and then people get defensive and start shooting daggers out of their eyes at me.

Too Much Sass?

Anyway, I’ve been working a lot and not talking to people as much, but then the other day I was doing something and commented to some folks my thoughts on art, and someone got super pissy and personal about it.

I found that amusing.

Story Time!

This one time, I arranged a very small, very amateur production of a play that we performed at a local library. They had a little room they could set up with chairs, so we did a few performances open to the public for free. The show was really, really low budget (like, we spent less than fifty bucks, probably), and everyone brought their own costumes and did their own props mostly, but it was a very, very funny play, and the actors did an amazing job being adorable and charming.

Everyone in the audiences that came to see it, as far as I could discern, loved the show except for this one girl.

The Plot Thickens!

You see, behind my back one of my guys had arranged for a theater critic to come by and write a review.

As soon as I found out about this (too late) I was like, “Oh, why? Why did you do this?” Because the show was for the actors, first, as an educational exercise, and for the public second, as a generous sharing of fun.

We did not arrange or perform the show in any way for critical review.

The Ugly Aftermath

Yeah, so the girl who came to review the show HATED everything about it with the passion of several large suns and wrote a scathing piece about how we had basically spat upon theatre tradition and misled the audience by making them laugh too much.

The idea, I think, that she had was that we were being irreverent by making people laugh at a comedy.

Yes, the piece was a comedy. Anyway, I was a little annoyed because my actors had worked really hard, and she was very personal and very rude in her individual reviews of their performances.

Basically Tore Them Down

So I did that thing that you’re really never supposed to do and I responded openly. I was personal and petty back, and I made myself look like an ass, but I got what I wanted, which was making the broken, ashamed look vanish from my actors’ eyes. They got the impression, correctly, that I had drawn off all the ire of our unpleasant public review, and they saw I was willing to sort of make a ridiculous rug out of myself to protect their egos. So they all felt better.

Anyway, I said some things about theatre, and about the critic’s obvious ignorance, and I looked, as I said, very ill-mannered. I also pissed off several people.

Folks Said The Whole Thing Was “Unfortunate”

I usually don’t make people angry on purpose, but I’m beginning to wonder if I have a sort of talent for it, and if I should make more of a practice out of learning to do it on purpose.

My tagline could be something like, “Poole, pissing people off . . . something something catchy.” Like “as usual,” or “in perpetuity,” or something.

People who work with any dedication on the first folio of Shakespeare tend to make other people mad. Mostly they piss people off who make an actual living by lecturing and twaddling about Shakespeare’s works (without knowing anything about staging or performing his actual pieces).

Mm, angry people. I find angry people amusing. I’ll have to think about this some more.

Examples

BAD WRITING:

Jasmine had no business going aboard a slink-op cruiser. She didn’t have permission, and she certainly didn’t have a good idea of what would occur if she pushed a few blue buttons.

The first button made a click, and the second button made the ship hover with a jolt. The third button, to Jasmine’s total delight, sent an array of police-grade missiles straight into the side of a nearby structure.

Jasmine took hold of the joystick and flew straight into the sky. She was soon out of sight, and the few people who survived the collapse of the building stumbled out into the street and started a war against the colony of alien settlers across the river.

GOOD WRITING:

The dentist told her to go straight home, but the buzz of painkillers made Jasmine feel loopy, courageous, and completely ready for adventure. She strolled along the wide avenue, glaring at the trees and grinning at anyone who caught her eye.

The ships on each side of the road seemed to smirk in a welcoming way to her, and under the haze of chemicals, she walked up to the friendliest one and patted the door, which opened. Jasmine’s smile became fixed. Her eyes gleamed with manic fury.

Jasmine had no business going aboard a slink-op cruiser, but the drugs urged her on. She didn’t have a license, and she certainly didn’t have any inkling of what she was doing when she sat down and pushed a few very interesting blue buttons.

The first button made a satisfying click, and the second blue button caused the slink-op cruiser to hover with a drunken jolt into the air. The third button, to Jasmine’s total delight, sent an array of police-grade missiles straight into the side of the deli where the cruiser had been left parked.

Jasmine stifled a giggle, took hold of the joystick, and rocketed with the slim vessel straight into the sky. She was soon out of sight in the clouds, and the few patrons of the deli who survived the explosions and the collapse of the building stumbled out into the street and organized a small militia to combat the sudden and unexpected attack, which they thought had been a carefully-planned and executed act of inflammatory violence by the colony of alien settlers across the river.

And So

I have no conclusion to draw from today’s ramblings. I am a person with naught useful to say about nothing at the moment.

You’re reading Victor Poole, and in my current novel, our romantic heroes have obtained a highly desirable pet.

I’m Looking For My Anger This Afternoon

So every few weeks I circle back into the drain of generalized depression. There’s a kind of person, I’ve found, and I’m one of them, who were kind of destroyed as young children and they (including me) have a hard time caring deeply about themselves.

It’s not that I don’t realize I ought to; I just can’t sometimes. The anger is out of reach. Instead of indignation I feel numb nonchalance. Also at these times I sort of stop breathing.

Finding The Anger Helps

I met a guy a long time ago who had been raised the same way I was. I sort of feel he ended up on the dark side, though, because he blatantly used his empathy skills to defraud people of intimacy and then twist them into casual knots over it. I use my people skills that I developed from being a public commodity to help broken people defend themselves.

He and I understood each other pretty well, but he did try to destroy me while denying that he’d even noticed I was there. He was sort of a jerk. His wife doesn’t like his way of cheating casually, in an emotional sense. His dirtiest trick, since I’m talking about him, was to work up underdeveloped homosexuals into unbearable crushes and then smear his heterosexuality in their faces. He was really rude about it.

He Was Almost A Professional Emotional Torturer

Um, the reason I’m talking about him at this moment is because I’ve been trying to decide if I ought to have done something about him. His mother had raised him as a kind of piece of tempting nymphrodisiac bait (I just made that word up) to attract social flattery and then experiment with gender. She did that; he was only partially aware of what was going on.

Anyway, that really has nothing to do with writing books, except it kind of does, since writing is an expression of emotional experience, couched in story.

Examples

BAD Writing:

The angry, aggressive person appeared at the door and came inside with an awful and threatening aura of terribleness. He was scary. The man kicked aside a chair and sat in it. His body made a comfortable sound thumping here in the seat.

There was a poor hungry little child underneath a particular piece of furniture in the room. Was it a table? Yes! It was a table!

The man called for his wife. What would happen next? The little kid waited with bated breath to learn what unpleasant talk would be in store that he would find out about as soon as his mom came into the room.

She did come into the room and she was far too pretty for a person who wasn’t particularly loving. She ought to have been sort of hideous, like a wart-ridden hag with no hair, but instead of being like that she was refined in appearance like a princess. Smelled good, too, aside from booze-musk.

She asked what the matter was, and her angry person elucidated the situation with the young person hiding under sticks of wood formed into a table.

They fought for a  minute and the boy ended up in bed. He did not have a nice rest and no one read him any kind of bedtime story, partially because his mom was drunk and his dad was uneducated and didn’t realize the good effects of reading on developing young brains.

GOOD Writing:

Marco shuffled through the door, knocking his head against the lintel and swearing softly. He glanced around the room and spotted a pair of very thin, bare legs extending from under the table. Marco grinned and pulled out a chair, sitting down at the table.

The pair of legs vanished under the table with a swift motion. Marco grinned and thrust his own legs out, impacting against a soft body.

“Barbara!” Marco bellowed. The little body under the table made a covert motion towards the opposite edge; Marco hooked his boot around the child’s hip to keep him in place.

A very beautiful drunk woman came into the dark room, her hair falling in waves over her eyes and her shoulders sloped at an angle. She had a tumbler of whiskey in one hand.

“What?” Barbara asked, tossing back her hair and sipping her drink.

“There’s a dirty animal under the table. What’s it doing there?” Marco asked, his face creased in a smile.

“Bed!” Barbara snapped. The small body under the table fought back uselessly against Marco’s trapping heel, though the child made no sound. Barbara let out an exaggerated sigh, stalked to the table, reached underneath with one hand, and dragged the boy out by his hair. She had to rip him away from his father’s heels, but the child came unstuck and scampered farther into the house.

“You should make the kid wash, Babs. He’s probably covered in shit again,” Marco said, leaning back in his chair.

“Then you wash him, dolt,” Barbara murmured, turning with a swivel of her shapely hips and sauntering back to her room.

And So

This example makes use of some backstory for one of my main characters from the series I’m working on right now. Oddly, I know that I’m angry because of past experience, but I couldn’t tell you why I’m mad, and I don’t feel enraged at all. Maybe the emotion will catch up to me tomorrow sometime.

You’re reading Victor Poole, and today in my current novel, the mysterious Kimoan is on the hunt for his lost biological son.

Why Breathing Is A Better Strategy Than Panicking

mountains

Here is a sketch from me looking at landscapes.

I’m working on expanding my word choice for the current series I’m developing. I’m okay with my general word palette being pretty consistent over the course of one series. My touchstone metaphors and described behaviors are fairly consistent within the universe of each individual series, but I am feeling gun-shy about repeating particular verbs too often.

How Many Times Should A Character [verb], For Example?

On the other hand, I really don’t like it when writers stretch so far beyond the point of casual readability that you feel as if they’re sitting with a thesaurus and making esoteric word choices just to keep from repeating any one word more than twice. I don’t like that either. So there’s a balance I want to achieve.

I’ve been thinking about the time when I, a dancer, was going to my local studio all the time. It was frustrating because one of my important classes got canceled right through the summer that I had the most time to practice, so I got behind on classical training catch-up, and had to practice on my own, which is still good, but not nearly so useful as having a teacher on hand to correct arm placement and all that.

I’m Also Agonizing Over Comma Styles Lately

I was reading a story today where the author made a premise and then jolted into a flashback as a casual way to sneak out of any action happening in the present moment.

I didn’t like that. I thought that author was behaving like a dastardly and sleazy skunk. I’d rather the author gave the premise and then followed through on it, and didn’t squeeze two or three stories into the umbrella of a lie (the lie being, in this case, that all the narrative fits under the original premise). (Because it didn’t! No action happened at all under the original premise! Booooo!)

I think, based on my own experiences, that authors often avoid making action and significant change, and often backtrack and dither. Here’s an example of that:

BAD Writing

Silas pulled out the can of shotgun shells and sorted through for the one he wanted. Today was the day he was going to hunt after that big doe, the floppy black one with big haunches and vicious red eyes.

(Here’s where that sneaky, avoidant backtracking normally comes into play.)

Silas remembered the first time he’d seen old floppy-ears. He closed his eyes as he was lost in the mists of long ago within the confines of his sappy mind.

(Sudden flashback to years earlier!)

He pulled up his jacket and shifted his rifle against his arm as he strode through the empty cars and the discarded clothes and possessions on the freeway. The giant, man-eating rabbits didn’t come out this way often, but it was better to be prepared.

Suddenly! A black do with floppy ears! Her eyes were so red! And her large front teeth sharp, violent! He could imagine those teeth stained with his own blood! Probably the blood from his neck where he thought she would sink her horrible bunny teeth in and chew him limb from limb, or head from torso, really, since it was his neck he was thinking of.

Silas brought his gun up and sighted along the barrel, fully prepared to brutally destroy this fine creature of predatory dominance over the fallen, extinguished-almost race of man! The rabbit looked up! She dashed away!

(Return to present moment.)

That darned rabbit always got away, Silas thinks to himself sadly. He was so depressed about how he’d never caught her before that he gave up on the hunt and went back to bed.

GOOD Writing

Silas pulled out the can of shotgun shells and sorted through for the one he wanted. Today was the day he was going to hunt after that big doe, the floppy black one with big haunches and vicious red eyes.

He felt the shiver of the morning air over his bare arms; the rabbits always went for his biceps, because they wanted to taste skin right away under their awful, slathering jowls, and Silas wore a mask and full-body suit to draw the rabbits onto his arms.

He’d rigged a sort of invisible armor, a kind of electrical system that ran from his wrist cufflets to his shoulder gear, and the rabbit who bit down on his arm was a rabbit that got its brain shocked, hard. Silas had thought when he’d first invented the arm-guards that he would be able to stroll among the bunnies and let them bite his arms and kill themselves, but he had found that his arm system was more of a last-defense, as it ended up stunning a rabbit for three seconds and then turned the animal crazy and rabid. He took the massive rabbits out from afar as often as he could.

Silas stood for a long moment at the mouth of his hideout, looking along the destroyed highway and the many piles of scrap metal, where the bunny families had chewed abandoned cars to pieces. He hoisted his ram-fire weapon over his shoulder, patted the useful shotgun buckled to his body, and strolled out into the early morning air to find the black doe.

She’d left her spoor near the left-hand exit again, and it was fresh. Silas licked his lips as he imagined roasting fresh rabbit over a bonfire tonight. He hadn’t eaten a doe for a long time now, almost two weeks, and he hoped to be able to strip her body and store up rabbit jerky for the winter.

Silas tracked the doe to a cluster of trees and spotted her nibbling at a lower branch. She was fully fifteen feet, from nose to fluffy tail, and her hide was slick, ebony, and looked very soft. I will make her into a bed, Silas thought, and he cautiously unfastened his shotgun and put down his larger ram-fire cannon in the same motion. Die, bunny, Silas thought, as he lifted his gun and aligned the sights with her violent crimson eye.

And So

Following through on a premise is a good way to gain trust and confidence in the reader’s mind. Abandoning a premise mid-story (or anywhere within the story, really), is a rude thing to do.

You’re reading Victor Poole, and in my current novel, Dave Tinnels is about to have a very interesting conversation with a dead gangster’s bodyguard.

Old Rage And Projects

I’m in this weird place right now where I’m transitioning from impacted rage to normal, healthy levels of aggression. Like, I wasn’t allowed to be angry at anyone ever in my previous life, and I don’t actually experience anger in my body yet, as a real-time sort of thing. Instead I get numb, and later I stop breathing.

Victor Poole, You Are Weird

Hey, I have cool problems! Anyway, so I’m in this place where I’m learning how to actually experience any kind of anger as it’s happening, and it’s been kind of like being possessed by an alien creature or something. I mean, this is basically an existential, out-of-body experience for me.

Great fodder for science fiction, though. I like to keep track of things I experience and then turn them upside down and make different alien creatures responsible for perfectly normal somatic sensations within the human body.

That way the end result is relatable, since so many people have interesting dysfunction trapped in their bodies.

Victor Poole, Where’s That Dragon Book?

Oh, it’s coming along slowly. I have some really old projects that have been hanging around for years, literally, and taking up dusty space in my mental domain, and I’m clearing it all.

Like, this is spring cleaning for my internal landscape. You know that feeling when you’ve routed all the stuff out of the corners of your living space, and you can’t even see the floor anymore but you’re determined to actually go through every single thing and make stuff neat? So you’re stubbornly refusing to jam crap back into closets or anything, because you want the closets to be organized too? I’m doing that mentally right now, and with my writing projects.

Except It’s Time-Consuming

But at the end, I will have neat mental closets! Yes! I keep telling myself it will be worth it, but I am so interested in that day in the future when I will have a long, shiny list of published titles. This is my groaning face.

I started a new drawing course. I hate it so much, because it brings up a lot of insecurity I have around being decent at anything. I’m actually really bad at art, but I’m too embarrassed to admit how weak my deep skills are, so doing art lessons is sort of agonizing. But I’m doing them anyway. I figure it’s a good character-building exercise, at least.

Spheres And Cubes, Right Now

Part of my whole journey with embracing rage is finding out what it’s like to feel emotions and express them simultaneously. That is terrifying, and I don’t like it at all. It’s icky and scary. But I’m pretty sure it’s good for me, so I’m doing it anyway. This is my crying face. Not really. I’m not crying right now. I’m actually irritated, but admitting that to myself is a big deal, and new.

Examples

Heinous Writing

Hannah pulled the disc out of the sleeve and loaded it into her portable robot. The machine made a bleep as it ate the disc, and Hannah waited for the information to show up. It didn’t and Hannah took the disc out again and tried another disc, and another. Nothing happened at all. Darn it! Hannah thought.

She left the library and saw a new sky in the world outside. The air was clear and bright, and drops of crystal were thick everywhere, like rain frozen as it had fallen and hovering in the air. Hannah put a finger against the nearest drop. Her fingers turned green and fell off. Oh, dear, Hannah thought, and she went back into the library and found a window, from which she watched several people walk outside and hit up against the droplets.

Each of the people who touched the pieces of shining crystal died. Soon there were corpses around the grounds of the library, and Hannah’s arm felt numb. She’d lost four fingers on her left hand.

Better Writing

Hannah left the public library and saw a new sky in the world outside. The air was clear and bright, and drops of crystal were thick everywhere, like rain frozen as it had fallen and hovering in the air. Hannah reached out and touched a finger against the nearest droplet. A buzz of pain made her snatch her hand away. A prickle of heat flooded the tip of her finger and spread through her whole hand. Hannah watched in shock as her finger turned green, crumpled inward, and fell off. She now had only four fingers on her left hand. Oh, dear, Hannah thought, and she went back into the library and found a window from which she watched several people walk outside and hit up against the droplets.

Each of the people who touched more than three pieces of the shining crystal froze, wrinkled inward, edged into a green shade, and died. Soon there were wrinkled green corpses around the grounds of the library, and Hannah’s arm felt numb. She looked down at her hand and saw that her forearm and palm were tight and wrinkled, like a partially dried raisin. She’d lost four fingers on her left hand.

And So

I know there are a ton of emotions I’ve never experienced personally. Like, I know they exist, and I’ve heard all about other people having them, but they haven’t actually crossed the threshold of self for me.

Off-topic, I read this really strange fantasy series that was partially written by George Lucas once, and there were a couple of things I liked about it, but the strangest thing was the way the magic didn’t change over the course of the book (or series, I guess).

I like fantasy where the magic changes gradually and evolves, not the magic itself, but the characters’ understanding of the rules and the dynamics of the power deepens and alters.

My son found out what head mites were today and he said, “Whew! I sure hope those are extinct!”

I’m not really looking forward to bursting his bubble about that. He’s going through a stage where he screams in terror and hides in the nearest closet if he sees a mosquito.

You’re reading Victor Poole, and in my current novel, Catero Weston is training a new candidate for leadership in the gang. The new guy’s name is Jakob, and he’s a lot of fun to write. He’s one of those guys who’s really sincere and passionate, and doesn’t at all see the value those qualities bring to him as a complete package.