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.

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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.

Vanity And Self-Importance in Performance

I made an interesting discovery when I was inventing performance for myself.

Victor Poole, You Are Unbearably Conceited

I’m not nearly as conceited as I will be in the future. I’m still undoing rug-style prostration that was hammered into me by several malicious jealous persons in my extreme youth.

Anyway, while I was inventing performance I discovered that actors and writers who were full of themselves–genuinely, unbearably conceited–did a lot better than humble people.

Victor Poole, Your Selection Bias Is Showing

Look, I’ll even be specific: there was one guy whose acting was shit and had decent hair; he was full of himself and got local parts constantly. Directors didn’t like using him at all, and tried to replace him often, but he made himself available as far as his schedule went, and maintained the glossy condition of his excellent hair, and he got roles anyway.

But directors hated using him, and as far as I can see from the distant high-rise of the Internet, he’s stalled out in his career now. He had early success and then hit the peak of how far his juvenile vanity could take him.

This guy was not nearly as self-conceited as he could have been, and he wasn’t full of himself enough to break into legitimate film.

Film Requires God-Like Self-Worship

I knew another woman who got a lot of work in the midwest, and had a bit of a reputation, but she was full of herself in exactly the wrong way. She had conceit, but it manifested in moral boldness. The woman had no morals whatsoever, but acted as if anything she personally did was hand-written by the prophets as Meant To Be, and so she did glide along with a verve and panache that saw her through rough spots pretty well.

She had more success than good-hair-guy, but couldn’t get any real work in film, either. She did regional stage stuff, and is still doing so, as far as I can tell. She doesn’t have any friends, though.

Another Example of Vanity

A third woman I knew, a script writer, had talent and no confidence whatsoever. She was a literal welcome mat, as far as her functional personality went, and though her writing sparkled and gave off iridescent gleams of eternity, she never found genuine production (by which I mean, successful fleshing-out of her work).

People latched on to her writing and used it for their own ends, but her personhood never attached to the final product at all. She was like a privately-owned mine of words, delved into and dug up when occasion required good writing.

And One More Writer, A Man

I knew another guy, a writer in his thirties, who had consistent productions of his works and a lot of friends and acquaintances. He was vain in a steam-roll kind of way; he would push over objections and assume that everyone would help him reach his goals.

He was emotionally tone deaf, mostly on purpose, and he has also stalled out at a semi-permanent plateau, as far as I can see, and is held back by the same pushiness he’s used to advance himself.

Dead Ends Everywhere; Victor Poole, You Are So Bleak!

Oh, I’m a realist. Now, what I learned as I watched people be vain in different ways was that what we think of, as a general group of writers approaching work, as a good attitude is more like Kool-aid for chumps.

Because we’re supposed to be simultaneously full of ourselves, of a kind of preternatural belief in our ability to Do Something Special, and also consistently humble and embracing of Any Useful Advice handed to us by others.

Vanity That Doesn’t Go Far Enough Won’t Take You Far, Either

I can practically guarantee that you are not properly vain, in a useful sense. You are overconfident and shallow, and you doubt yourself.

How do I know this? Because I’m full of myself. : ) But also because I know people, and a person like you, who is reading a blog like this, has built a foundation of incorrect and toxic vanity.

What you need is to become properly saturated with self-conceit, with a belief in your inherent superiority as a judge and observer of human nature.

Two More Samples

G.B. Shaw was full of toxic vanity.

Shakespeare was bursting with healthy self-conceit.

Underneath Shaw’s veneer of confidence was a fear, almost shatteringly vibrant, of being really a fool. Shaw’s terror of himself led to an acerbic self-commentary in all but one of his plays.

Shakespeare was genuinely confident, did not fear himself one bit, and wrote whole stories on purpose to excite and exploit the audience in order to reap a profit.

Be more like Shakespeare. Embrace conceit.

Examples

BAD WRITING: LACK OF DESCRIPTION

Ris was a mysterious centaur; he was not one of the Northern breed, and his coat was entirely too sleek. Eueen did not trust him, and she wished that her father had sent him off when he’d had first come calling. Ris teased her and the other children for the way their forelegs lifted high from years of ploughing.

“Ye’d walk so, and ye’d been raised proper in the land,” Eueen’s father said.

“Aye, so I would,” Ris had agreed good-humoredly.

“I wish he’d go away,” Eueen told her sister, Marren.

“I think he’s good-looking,” Marren said, shifting her hips and looking altogether too worldly for words.

“You’re too little for mating,” Eueen snapped.

“Nonsense. I heard that in the capital, mares as young as fifteen are put to brood,” Marren said.

“You heard that from Clovan, and she made it up. She said so to me,” Eueen said.

“Well, I think he’s handsome,” Marren said.

“Are you going to tell him so?” Eueen asked.

“Shh!” Marren hissed, looking swiftly at the open door of the barn.

GOOD WRITING: PERTINENT DESCRIPTION ADDED

Ris formed an uncomfortable addition to their household; he worked in the fields, and lived in a rough stone hut he had erected in the forest to the north, but he joined the family for meals, and Eueen’s father kept Ris back to talk politics over the fire more often than not. Eueen thought Ris was frightening and ugly; his heavy black sides and the wild tangle of his hair as it fell over the bare skin of his shoulders reminded her of the ghost stories her granddam used to tell over the evening fire.

Ris was a mysterious centaur; he was not one of the northern breed, and his ebony coat was entirely too sleek for their own piebald herd. Eueen did not trust him, and she wished that her father had sent him off when the black beast had first come calling. Ris teased her and the other children; he called them farm morsels, and laughed at the way they walked, their white-splashed forelegs lifted high from years of ploughing the deep furrows of the valley fields.

“You’d walk so, and you’d been raised proper in the land,” Eueen’s father said, the first time this occurred.

“Aye, so I would,” Ris had agreed good-humoredly, and his teasings had passed without comment ever since.

The bare flesh of his chest irritated Eueen, which was strange. Her father and her brother had bare torsos, too, and all the male centaurs she’d ever known, but Ris’ nakedness felt like a personal affront. Eueen was deeply grateful that her own skin was thoroughly covered with her white and copper hide. She didn’t know what she ever would have done, if she’d been one of the mares whose skin showed bare.

Eueen was notable for the way her hide extended straight up her neck, covering her cheeks with delicate hair and running up into the hair of her head. She was the only mare she’d ever seen with hide over her whole torso and her face and neck. Her own mother had a bare face, and both her sisters, and her sister Marren had delicate, fair skin all down her back and to the tip of her waist. Marren’s front was covered with a tawny chestnut, up to the turn of her shoulders.

Eueen had heard of women with bare skin all over their upper bodies, just like the men, but she’d never seen such a woman herself. All the mares she’d ever known had hide covering their fronts. Eueen’s own excessively modest hide pleased her enormously, now that the disturbance of Ris had presented itself.

“I wish he’d go away,” Eueen told her sister, Marren, over the husking one night.

“I think he’s good-looking,” Marren said, shifting her bright chestnut hips and looking altogether too worldly for words.

“You’re too little for mating,” Eueen snapped, her own cheeks growing hot under her hide.

“Nonsense. I heard that in the capital, mares as young as fifteen are put to brood,” Marren said, her eyebrows arched.

“You heard that from Clovan, and she made it up. She said so to me,” Eueen said. Marren’s face turned sour, and she swished her red-gold tail.

“Well, I think he’s handsome,” she said stubbornly.

“Are you going to tell him so?” Eueen asked.

“Shh!” Marren hissed, looking swiftly at the open door of the barn.

And So

Toxic vanity is bad and saturated self-conceit is good. Embrace your preternatural role as Commander-for-Life of your own perception, and take away from yourself all scraps of in-chargeness over anyone and anything out of your purview, and you are likely to find great success in your endeavors.

Remember, you are the ultimate authority on your experience, your emotions, and your thoughts and opinions.

You know nothing in a real sense about anyone else’s experiences, true opinions, or deep thoughts.

Stay inside your fence of self and you can’t go wrong. Plus, your writing improves. And eventually, if you really sink in and become God of your own deepest self, you can learn to exploit and excite the audience in order to reap benefits and make them happy at the same time. Richard Burbage might agree with me. Unfortunately he’s dead, so I can’t ask him. But he is the dude who got Shakespeare worked up enough to write the role of Hamlet, which literally encompasses half of the text of the play by the same name, so, you know, copy Mr. Burbage also. He was presumably saturated with delectable self-conceit. The good kind.

You’re reading Victor Poole, and I’m writing about the reputation man of the Viridi Vitae right now. It’s sort of delightful. His murder team isn’t in town yet, and he’s recruited a couple of men from the local Vitae branch to come follow him around and look intimidating. They have already terrorized a local cab driver (an alien who is going to receive a very large tip), and are about to go interview Ashley Kelly’s former roommates. Mm, interrogations.

Rough Whale Study

whale2

I’m getting a bunch of rough sketching done. I used to be really studied and tight in my technique, and I’m working on loosening my style and bringing more movement and emotion into my work.

I want to start doing a lot more original composition, so I’m doing several fast studies every day to get used to composition and color choices. I used to do a lot of isolated drawings on blank backgrounds, so changing to thinking of whole landscapes is new for me.

In terms of writing, I’m focused on saying yes to unexpected impulses within my outlines. When a character develops in an unexpected direction, where I would usually say, “No, you vagrant! Stay on target!”, I am instead saying, metaphorically, “Why not? Play, wee imaginative person!”, and then finding out what comes of it.

I imagine this sort of loosey-goosey-ness is very good for me, what with all the heart-holding excitement it necessarily brings to the writing process. I need to clean the air filters in my house tomorrow. Ahem.

Examples

BAD Writing

Solomon had two hands wound over the special hilt of the magic weapon, which, having been enchanted to do so by the man with magic who’d had it a long time ago, glowed a gentle green color in the creepy dark of the monster’s place of residence.

Scales of destroyed little lizards and their white inside frames, sucked thoroughly of every bit of previously organic material, crunched with plenty of loud crunch under Solomon’s shoes.

A low growl came from the central portion of the large hole Solomon was standing in, which was so dark inside he couldn’t see the monster he’d come to seek tonight. Solomon’s heart filled with butterflies, and he held onto his hat.

“Ugog, come here and face me,” Solomon said, his voice splashing like a confident challenge over the general environs, which were dark and scary to Solomon. Solomon saw a pair of thin snaky limbs move out over the heaps of scales and lizard pieces.

“You came for a fight, and by George, I’ll surely win,” Ugog howled, his voice loud.

“Come here,” Solomon vociferated, moving in a spring and raising the length of his sword in both hands.

GOOD Writing

Solomon kept hold of the enchanted blade, which glowed iridescent green in the half-light of the monster’s den.

Scales of destroyed miniature dragons and their ivory bones, sucked dry of every particle of juice, crunched noisily under Solomon’s heavy boots.

A low growl emanated from the heart of the cavern, which was all in shadow. Solomon’s heart quaked, and he held forth the emerald sword.

“Ugog, come forth and face your doom,” Solomon said, his voice echoing like reverberating bells against the walls of the place. The growl grew, and from the faint light of moonlight far behind near the entrance, Solomon saw a pair of silver tentacles spin out over the heaps of scales and delicate bones.

“You came for death, and you shall have life instead, endless life, and I will mount your eyes within my face,” Ugog said, his voice like stones crushing against themselves.

“Show yourself, demon,” Solomon whispered, settling in a crouch and grasping the hilt of his sword in both hands.

I’m thinking about buying a few of the Blandings Castle books to absorb Wodehouse’s humor. Lately I’ve been reading about Jeeves and Bertie Wooster.

You’re reading Victor Poole, and it’s kinda late to be writing a blog post. But hey! It’s morning somewhere in the world!