2 Steps For Writing Through A Slump

We all have moments when it’s hard to write. The difference between a writer who sits on a heap of finished material and a writer who wants to rest so is what they do when they don’t want to write.

Step One:

Reassign the problem to a parent cause that is externalized and unemotional.

Not writing has nothing to do with inherent ability, talent, charm, or skill. It has mostly to do with energy management.

What Does That Mean, Victor Poole?

It means you either don’t have time, or, more likely, you feel you don’t have time. Time to write, that is. When you feel you don’t have time, trying to write becomes almost impossible, because your mind is whirling over all the other things you ought/could/should be doing.

Addressing the “can’t” in your brain and spirit is the quickest way to get back to writing.

The Implacable Pressure Of The “Should”

Something that helps clear away guilty energy is what we’ll call the aura-plunger. (Elegant, I know.)

Here is a plunger:

plunger

Now the purpose of a plunger is to force a blockage through a narrow space.

“Should” thoughts are the shit of your energy management. Hence, the plunger.

Our plunger is called Death.

Death introduces urgency and meaning into our everyday management of time. Just think; if you were never going to die at all, would you be in a hurry to achieve your goals? I mean the hard goals, the ones it kind of itches through your soul to try for. The goals that are always sort of teasing at the back of your mind, making you feel a heavy, inescapable guilt.

Death, The Pipe-Cleaner Of Your Internal Vessel

Take a deep breath, and play a game with me. Imagine that you know for an absolute fact that you’re going to expire peacefully, without any pain, in your sleep exactly six months from today. You have a mysterious benefactor who is going to tidy up all your affairs, and watch after your dependents, and you have nothing to worry about except the fact of ending.

After the surge of OMG DEATH!, what’s the first regret, the first bittersweet something-or-other that rises through your heart? I mean at the thought of not finishing things.

And Now, The Completion Of Step One

Turn your mind towards your writing. What is bittersweet there? There are books you’re thinking of that are personal, that feed your soul, and there are others you’re writing purely for selfish ego-stroking purposes (to impress someone else, or to feel responsible and worthy).

Now, in your mind, make a little black mark through the center of the dead projects, the ones that you don’t feel anything but impatient with when you imagine dying.

Take a little golden glow, and surge that up around the nice ideas, the ones that make you feel full and proud. (This elevates the importance and urgency of these projects in your conscious mind; it helps you find time.)

Step Two: Fresh Blood, Energetically Speaking

I’m going to be a little snark-bitch now, and withhold step two. It’s far more valuable for you to start to think of how to get more life yourself, than for someone like me (an outsider) to tell you what to do.

Instead, here is a fiction sample.

Examples

Shitty Writing:

Silvia never thought about murdering anyone, until she saw the alien scanners recording her mother’s death. The blood, and the strange, limp hollows in her mama’s eyes made ugly things rise up in Silvia. She thought of murdering the alien who pressed the video controls.

A crackle of sound moved through the air; she turned her eyes back to the recording, and saw a narrow, silver body step into the pool of blood.

“She’s lost too much. Bring her back, and kill her slowly this time. I want her heart,” the silver being said in a sibilant voice.

Silvia’s own heart pounded as she watched a cloud of dark blue insects close over her mother’s corpse. The body sucked in spilled blood, and began to twitch. A keening groan emerged from her mother’s throat.

“That’s enough; she’s living. Do it slower, this time,” the silver thing commanded.

“That’s enough,” Procaltho said. The alien at the video controls turned off the picture. Silvia hadn’t realized until that moment that she’d been holding her breath.

“Where is she?” Silvia gasped.

“Your mother is dead,” Procaltho said.

I know, Silvia wanted to shout.

“The other one, the silver body. Where’s she?”

“It is not a mortal thing. Cannot be killed,” Procaltho said with a dismissive frown.

“How do I become immortal, then?” Silvia demanded.

Procaltho turned his eyes to her, a thoughtful expression through his eyes.

“You want revenge?” he asked. Silvia snarled, and Procaltho laughed. “I want things from you first,” he said.

And now, fixing it up to make it shiny and glorious:

Great Writing:

Silvia never thought about murdering anyone, until she saw the alien scanners play back her mother’s death.

Silvia’s captor, the alien Procaltho, studied her as she watched the holoscreen. A peon, some alien male, thin green with yellow eyes, controlled the buttons that replayed the scene. This alien was half the size of Procaltho, and seemed almost composed of tissue paper. His lungs made interesting flutters under the cavity of his chest, and his hands were webbed and tense over the knobs.

Silvia’s hands, tied back with soft blue plants to a sturdy ring, clenched into fists as the first image filtered into view. Her mother was forced back against a brick wall, her blond hair streaming in a mess over her neck, and her pale eyes wild with fear. Two monsters, like hairless, bloodless bears held her by the arms. One pushed a laser rod through Silvia’s mother’s side, and pulled down to make a gaping rent. The blood, and the suddenly strange, limp hollows under her mama’s eyes made ugly things rise up in Silvia. She thought of murdering the alien who pressed the video controls.

A crackle of sound moved through the air; Silvia watched the peon fumble at the knobs. She turned her eyes back to the recording and saw a narrow, silver body step into the pool of blood.

“She’s lost too much. Bring her back, and kill her slowly this time. I want her heart,” the silver being said in a sibilant voice.

Silvia’s own heart pounded as she watched a cloud of dark blue dust, a nanotech flock, emerge from one beast’s throat and close over her mother’s corpse. The body sucked in much of the spilled blood, and began to twitch. A keening groan emerged deep in her mother’s throat.

“That’s enough; she’s living. Do it slower this time,” the silver thing commanded.

“That’s enough,” Procaltho said. The alien at the controls turned off the picture. Silvia hadn’t realized until that moment that she’d been holding her breath. Her knuckles ached. She no longer feared Procaltho’s hard face, or trembled at the memory of his greedy hand.

“Where is she?” Silvia gasped.

“Your mother is dead,” Procaltho said.

I know, Silvia wanted to shout.

“The other one, the silver body. Where’s she?”

“It is not a mortal thing. Cannot be killed by you,” Procaltho said. He eyed her with subdued interest. Silvia felt a snarl rise through her mouth; she curled her upper lip. He licked his own lip, and studied the flushing of her face. Well? his eyes seemed to ask, and she felt the real question behind his eyes.

“How do I become immortal, then?” Silvia asked.

“Get out,” Procaltho said to the small alien. The green being left; the room was hollow between them, when he’d gone. Silvia twisted her body, presenting her bound hands as much as she could.

Procaltho came slowly to her, and released the tough weeds. They softened over her hands, and dropped down to the floor. She turned to face him. He didn’t speak, but there was hunger in his eyes.

“You want revenge?” he asked. Silvia snarled, and Procaltho laughed. “I want things from you first,” he said.

In Sum

Death is our friendly plunger, which we can use to throttle blocked energy through our bodies in order to make room for interest in making time for writing.

Remember that when you clear blockages from your aura, you need to lay hands on some fresh energy somehow. I’ll leave it to you to figure out how to get fresh energy in your bones.

You’re reading Victor Poole. I’ve been working on skin tone studies, and I’m in the middle of revisions for another book.

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The Utility Of Raw Gore In Fiction (With A Sample)

dragon mockup

To see how you are handling your violence, sex, and coarse language, it is important to first examine the reason for it being there.

I imagine you’ve seen films before where a lady is unnecessarily undressed, or a person hits another for no story reason.

Because Empty Action Pads The Script (I’m Serious)

Shakespeare brought heads onstage, and severed limbs; he gored out eyes, and openly referenced incestuous rape and the dismemberment of women and children. One of his plays occurs almost entirely in a brothel, in fact, but you will find, in any worthwhile production of Shakespeare, that there is no immodesty in his language, or in his actions directed for the stage. (Embedded stage directions; it’s a long story.)

People Who Ruin Shakespeare Should Be Given Paper Cuts On Their Faces

People, shitty people (yeah, I’m looking at you, buster-oldy George) love to mangle Shakespeare, to add brazen fondling and breasts, and weirdly orgiastic violence that is not in any of the plays. They also like to add little scenes–to make the action more realistic, or more compelling to the modern viewer, they think.

All Of Which Sucks, Almost Always

Now, on to the subject of the day (or night, as the case may be): raw gore, and the manipulation of flesh in the service of whole fiction, is cathartic and pure, when it is handled with grace and modesty.

The Greeks, for all their blatant phallic pieces, had dignity and respect for suffering in many of their tragedies. The purpose of Oedipus putting out his eyes, and Jocasta hanging herself, is to bring the audience to a pitch of pity and existential terror.

The Bringing Of Emotional Climax Is The Function Of Fiction

And now, since the Greeks and Shakespeare do not always scratch the itch of contemporary genre fiction, here is some blood, and a bit of gentle violence.

A Sample, As Promised

Ethan the cyborg, having cut his metal down, is carving up a couple of his fellows, and stealing their alien inserts. Observe:

“What you are holding is a base insert,” Ethan said, grimacing as he began to wedge the other cyborg’s insert into his own thigh. Mary’s eyes widened, and her lips parted. He seemed to be working the insert in between his own muscles; the shape of his thigh moved in deeply unnatural ways as he worked. “I already have base inserts; I need the top pieces.”

 

“Doesn’t that hurt?” she demanded, watching him force the end of the insert deeper into his upper thigh.

“Not as much as you’d think. You get pretty numb, after the first four dissections,” he said. He made a small sound, like a tense man relaxing into a bath, and the insert folded neatly into the top of his thigh. Ethan sighed and pushed the bottom of the piece the rest of the way into the slit. Mary thought that it was like watching someone try to move a large piece of furniture through a narrow doorway; first the top made it in, and then the bottom was swiveled and forced into the opening.

“Are you all right?” she asked. She felt increasingly squeamish.

“I’m fine,” Ethan said. The insert went in with a strange click, and he extended his leg with a deep sigh.

“That looks so painful,” she said. The two insert pieces she held were hot and slick in her hands; she found, quite suddenly, that she didn’t mind the blood, but she minded the heat.

“It’s very good to get my old shape back,” Ethan grunted, working the metal deeper under his muscles.

And So,

Interestingly, tasteful swearing, and modest use of nudity, violence, and raw language and action opens the reader’s heart, and makes them receptive to the story, and the characters.

The gore must serve a core plot purpose, and be fully justified. Gratuitous violence, and all the rest, cheapens your work.

You’re reading Victor Poole. I have to rewrite almost the entirety of my cyborg sequel, because Vicard turned interesting, and developed unexpected backstory that I now get to incorporate through the threads of the previous parts.¬†

There’s A Delay For My Next Book

So The Second Queen was supposed to come out last month, but my editor, bless his heart, had an epiphany, and metaphorically flung the book across the room, and now we’re into thematic rewrites.

Plus, it turns out I forgot to write in some romance that should have been there the first time around.

Ah, experience, you great teacher, will you ever cease to pummel me between the eyes?

 

You’re reading Victor Poole. Philas wants everyone to know that he’s decided to be in love with Ajalia after all. Happy Wednesday, internet-kin.

Why You Leave Out Anchored Details When You Write (And How To Fix It)

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When you write, you often leave out the best parts. You don’t write about the most exquisite feelings, or the tenderest moments. Everything ought to be pat action and tight dialogue; all things should push the story forward. That’s the way you might feel, anyway, but what your reader wants the most is the deepest and strongest experience of the heart of the story, and that often includes happy feelings, exciting or startling sensations, and even scenes of tender friendship or love.

Victor Poole, You’re So Judgmental!

How do I know you are probably skipping the good parts in your writing? Well, I’ll tell you: I’m extrapolating from a combination of my own experience as a writer, my days of studying story-making in amateur theatre, and my personal findings as a reader of fiction.

So I’m pretty sure, like ninety-nine percent sure, that you’re skipping most of the good parts in your story.

Why Are These Soft, Squishy Bits Getting Skipped Over?

The super short answer is embarrassment and shame, but the longer, more complete answer is that everyone has, at some point in their life, been rejected or left out, or excluded in some painful manner, and this has taught each of us that sharing our truest and deepest selves with others is scary, bad, and sometimes dangerous.

Well, I Don’t Feel That Way, Victor!

Good for you! You rock on with your bad self! However, I shall continue, since not all of us are as lucky and/or resilient as you.

When you start to hide the squishy, human part of yourself in your writing (which is what skipping these deep parts is), the story suffers immeasurably. The characters become dry and unemotional, almost like rote-reading robots, and your prose becomes, shall we say, a tiny little itsy bit tedious at times.

You Can’t Call MY Prose Tedious, Victor! You Cad!

On the other hand, when you share your very favorite parts of the story with genuine excitement and generosity, the prose gets all filled up with good, edible chewiness, and your characters become real people, fully dimensional and memorable.

I Want Memorable Characters! Teach Me, Victor Poole!

The way you can tell if you’re skipping good parts in your writing is if you are bored. Honestly, there you go. If you aren’t excited by what you’re writing about, and eager to put it down, you are more than likely hiding the good parts of the story, possibly even from yourself.

Look! I just explained writer’s block!

No, Really

I’m actually serious; when you can’t write, or you don’t really wanna feel-like-it-right-now, you are probably hiding a really great part of the story from the reader, and writing around it, or over it, or through it.

Let’s take a break from the jibber-jabber and look at some examples:

Skipped good parts:

They sat next to the fire with their hands turned towards the warmth, and the touching that had almost happened two hours ago made them reluctant to speak.

He hadn’t meant to brush against her, and for her part, she found him far less attractive now that she knew he hadn’t lived away from his mother yet.

She started to make the food, and he roused himself and unpacked their bags. They were silent, quiet, and utterly without words for each other, and they slept on opposite sides of the fire that night.

With the good parts:

Thadeus and Jewly sat next to the fire with their palms towards the warmth.

“I thought you were going to kiss me earlier today,” she said. He looked at her sharply, and flushed.

“I wasn’t,” he said.

“I know, because you didn’t,” she said pointedly. His cheeks reddened further, and he scooted a little away from her. She moved closer to him, a frown of deep irritation creasing her mouth.

“Well, what are you getting closer to me for, if you hate me so much?” he demanded.

“I never said that,” she snapped, and eased closer. He glared at her suspiciously.

“I heard you say that you thought I was a lame excuse for a knight. I heard you say that,” Thadeus exclaimed.

“Living with your mother after you’ve been knighted is decidedly out of the spirit of adventure. Where are you supposed to take your true love, after you’ve gotten hold of her?” Jewly demanded. His face darkened; he frowned at her, and scooted closer; their legs pressed together.

“Well?” he asked.

“Well, what?” she replied.

“Aren’t you going to squeal, and go sit over there?” he asked harshly.

“Why would I squeal when you keep not trying to kiss me?” she asked, color mounting in her cheeks. Thadeus stared at her, his face undergoing a gradual revolution. He opened his mouth as if to speak again, and then closed it. She sniffed, and her breath shivered, as if she was concealing a heartfelt sigh.

His hand crept towards her knee; she eyed him, and he hesitated.

“Aren’t you going to run away and tell me how much you don’t want to kiss me?” he asked. His voice had turned husky.

“No,” she said.

“Do you want me to kiss you?” he asked.

And So,

In conclusion, when you are writing, watch out for lackadaisical lack of interest from you towards your story, and beware of writing around or away from the really good parts. Remember, if the reader would want to hear about it because it’s really intense, go ahead and write about it, even if it’s scary and/or too embarrassing.

You’re reading Victor Poole; my books are here, and I recommend starting with this one.

The headless horse is a study of this.

Adding Intoxication And Arousal To Your Novel

5next one

Look, guys, I’m talking about sex again! (This is a study I made of a whale. There are cute little silver fish, too; you can just see their fins and tails.)

 

 

Shakespeare And The Sexy Bits

He had them everywhere, didn’t he? Shameless, but oh so effective. Here is Dick, the serial killer, worming his way into Lady Anne’s knickers:

ANNE. Thou was’t the cause, and most accurst effect.

RICHARD. Your beauty was the cause of that effect:
Your beauty, that did haunt me in my sleepe,
To vndertake the death of all the world,
So I might liue one houre in your sweet bosome.

ANNE. If I thought that, I tell thee Homicide,
These Nailes should rent that beauty from my Cheekes.

RICHARD. These eyes could not endure y beauties wrack,
You should not blemish it, if I stood by;
As all the world is cheared by the Sunne,
So I by that: It is my day, my life.

ANNE. Blacke night ore-shade thy day, & death thy life.

RICHARD. Curse not thy selfe faire Creature,
Thou art both.

Here we see Richard retreating while saying intimate things, right up until Anne rushes at him in anger. Then we see Richard step smoothly up into her face and get too close and too calm. This is a recipe for an insta-crush, which Anne immediately develops (and is understandably upset and confused by).

The more volitional the exchange of selves, the stronger the heat of sex. Now for some examples of what I mean (because intoxicating writing generally does well, commercially).

Examples

Bad Writing:

Valerie hung sheepishly behind the butcher’s; she heard someone coming, and held her breath. Old man Hans came around the corner. He laughed when he saw her, and winked; she ducked her head and studied her books.

“You’re following that young man again,” Hans said.

“Am not,” Valerie said.

“You’d better hurry and slide against him then,” the old man sneered, and he patted Valerie’s arm with his gnarled hand. She waited for the old man to go away, and then went and looked at the bridge.

Frank was standing on the crossing, one leg stretched forward and both arms on the stone balustrade. His dark hair fell in thick curls over his neck. A bouncy woman was just beside him, her hand laid on his arm.

“We’ll see about this,” Valerie growled. She put her shoulders back and stalked towards the pair.

Good Writing:

Valerie waited around the corner; she heard approaching footsteps, and held her breath. Old man Hans came into view; she ducked her head and pretended to arrange her books.

“Morning,” Hans said.

“Mm,” Valerie agreed. Her heart throbbed painfully in her chest. She waited for the old man to hobble away, and then crept to the edge of the wall and peered around the bricks.

Frank lounged on the bridge, one knee knocked forward and both arms stretched along the stone balustrade. His skin was like sun-kissed gold, and his dark hair fell in thick curls over his neck. Bridget O’Malley stood in front of him, her whole body hooked forward, as if she thought she would magnetize the young man into falling on top of her.

“Hussy,” Valerie said under her breath. She put a wide smile on her face and swung around the corner, her bundle of books slung carelessly under her arm as she approached the bridge.

Fledgling arousal and romance is best built up by scrupulous attention to the freedom of interaction between the soon-to-be-smooching characters. Extortion kills romance, (and is great, if carefully used, for thrillers and scary bits), and autonomous sharing of the inner self is what builds the anticipation.

You’re reading Victor Poole. Here is the picture I used for my whale study.

How To Make Your Prose More Poetic And Profound

2green dress

When you’re writing serious fiction in the realm of science fiction and fantasy, it’s vital to keep an edge of importance in your tone, even if you’re writing comedy. A key element of both genres is a sense of reverence, and of marvelling at the profound.

Deep Fiction, Only With Magic And Spaceships

A British author who had a smashing success, far beyond what he expected for one of his works (he had several, of varying levels of greatness), later in his life said that he wished he had said something meaningful within the breakaway work. He had made it fluffy, and almost absurdly inconsequential. Once the work did well, he wished he had put more thought into its lasting message.

He Could Have Influenced Society

Shakespeare did this all the time; he snuck nuggets of what he thought and believed about pretty much anything and everything into every corner of his plays, and anyone who really wants to have a fight with me about authorial intent can go jump in a lake.

A Dropt Love Letter

JULIA. And yet I would I had ore-look’d the Letter;
It were a shame to call her backe againe,
And pray her to a fault, for which I chid her.
What ‘foole is she, that knowes I am a Maid,
And would not force the letter to my view?
Since Maides, in modesty, say no, to that,
Which they would haue the profferer construe, I.
Fie, fie: how way-ward is this foolish loue;
That (like a testie Babe) will scratch the Nurse,
And presently, all humbled kisse the Rod?
How churlishly, I chid Lucetta hence,
When willingly, I would haue had her here?
How angerly I taught my brow to frowne,
When inward ioy enforc’d my heart to smile?
My pennance is, to call Lucetta backe
And aske remission, for my folly past.
What hoe: Lucetta.

The Silliest Of Plays

Two Gentlemen of Verona is a frothy, rubbery thing; it flops around and bends willy-nilly, but the underlying narrative structure is strong. For example, there’s that scene at the end when Valentine, in a fit of brotherly affection, attempts to gift his girlfriend Silvia to Protheus; this looks ridiculous on stage if it’s performed wrong, because Protheus just finished up trying to assault her. When you examine the light-hearted nature of the tone, the act becomes a sardonic commentary upon the frantic follies of youth and inexperience. You know, like a Simpsons episode.

But Then, Shakespeare Grasped The Importance Of Profundity

There are many scenes in Shakepseare’s plays where a heroine blusters breathlessly through a seeming-contradictory litany of “yes, I like him, but no! I don’t!” speeches. Since we just looked at Romeo and Juliet the other day, I will call up the spectre of that perfect woman, Portia, as an example of another variation on the above speech, delivered by Julia, this time rendered in the profound and poetic tone adopted by the Bard shortly after he wrote Two Gentlemen.

Portia’s Blathering (While Blushing)

PORTIA. I pray you tarrie, pause a day or two
Before you hazard, for in choosing wrong
I loose your companie; therefore forbeare a while,
There’s something tels me (but it is not loue)
I would not loose you, and you know your selfe,
Hate counsailes not in such a quallitie;
But least you should not vnderstand me well,
And yet a maiden hath no tongue, but thought,
I would detaine you here some month or two
Before you venture for me. I could teach you
How to choose right, but then I am forsworne,
So will I neuer be, so may you misse me,
But if you doe, youle make me wish a sinne,
That I had beene forsworne: Beshrow your eyes,
They haue ore-lookt me and deuided me,
One halfe of me is yours, the other halfe yours,
Mine owne I would say: but of mine then yours,
And so all yours; O these naughtie times
Puts bars betweene the owners and their rights.
And so though yours, not yours (proue it so)
Let Fortune goe to hell for it, not I.
I speake too long, but ’tis to peize the time,
To ich it, and to draw it out in length,
To stay you from election.

And Now, For Fiction

How, you may wonder, can I apply the difference between light-minded cynicism and profound poetics to my science fiction novel? Observe:

Light-Minded Writing (Acerbic Commentary):

Juhi, her snot-dried upper lip stiff with daring, took up the bowl of jingling change and skipped lightly away; behind her, the greasy barkeeper yelled in an alien tongue that sounded like fighting cats.

“Pxxthe! Cght rfopwe!” he masticated. A sprinkling of ruffians in the eatery looked at him, bored and uninterested. “I’ll pay you if you catch that whore!” he screamed in a different language, for he had command of several manners of speech.

Two heavily made-up tarts who carried vicious weapons perked up at these words and shuffled promptly out the door, their artificial hips swinging behind them. The painted ladies caught Juhi at the edge of a neon alleyway.

“Give it back,” the taller lady vociferated, one of her eyelashes bouncing loose.

“I’ll give you so much more money! Just let me go!” Juhi pleaded, her narrow chest rising and falling.

The shorter lady grabbed the bowl of out of Juhi’s hands with her painted and glued nails, and kicked at her with a ludicrously-tall plastic heel.

“How much money is there in that bowl?” the taller female asked the other one.

“Twelve whole bits and change,” the shorter one sneered, her purplish cheeks lopsided.

“I can show you where he keeps all his business funds, and help you steal it all!” Juhi cried in obvious despair.

“Get lost, wdrxth,” the tall woman said, using the word for dead dog, and she wobbled towards the bar with her friend.

Profound Prose (Reflective, Respectful Commentary):

Juhi waited until the greasy man turned his back; she lifted the tip-bowl and tore away. Behind her, the over-short barkeeper heard the jingle. He turned and cried out in an alien tongue.

“Pxxthe! Cght rfopwe!” he cried, his throat tearing over the awkward sounds of his native tongue. Several patrons of the eatery looked around at him, blank incomprehension in their eyes. “I’ll pay you if you catch that thief!” he shrieked in a more common tongue.

At these words, two rough-looking women with spears in their hands and wicked guns strapped to their wide hips sprang up and crossed towards the door. They split up on the street, and cornered Juhi at the edge of a neon alleyway.

“Give it back,” the taller woman demanded. Her face was coated with exquisite makeup, and her false lashes caught the wind and fluttered up.

“I’ll split it with you if you let me go,” Juhi said, painting hard. She inched along the wall, and the tall woman planted a platinum, steel-toed high heel against the building to block her way.

The shorter woman caught the money deftly out of Juhi’s grasp, her manicured nails clicking against the metal bowl.

“How much?” the taller female asked her companion.

“Twelve and change,” the shorter one replied.

“He keeps a vault in the back, and I know the code,” Juhi said, her face pinching with desperation.

“Get lost, you wdrxth,” the tall woman said, taking her leg down. The short woman jumped slightly forward; Juhi scrambled down the street with a cry, and the two ladies watched her run and then turned back towards the bar.

And so we see, when we approach genre fiction with an eye to sobriety, profundity, and elegance of tone, our work is elevated from a sour mockery of characters (which often comes across as bad writing) to a poetic ode to the faults in our humanity.

You’re reading Victor Poole; my books are here. The sketch above is a study of this photograph.

Splitting Natural Wholes To Create Magnetic Pairs

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Writing romance is easy when you begin with a whole energy, split it in two, and create of each part a character who naturally longs to reunite with their other half. (The drawing is a study of someone’s horse sculpture.)

Begin With A Whole, Balanced

You start with one being, a complete circle, and fracture it. For example, let’s begin with the perfect matching pair shown in Romeo and Juliet.

From The Balcony:

JULIET. I will not faile, ’tis twenty yeares till then,
I haue forgot why I did call thee backe.

ROMEO. Let me stand here till thou remember it.

JULIET. I shall forget, to haue thee still stand there,
Remembring how I Loue thy company.

ROMEO. And Ile still stay, to haue thee still forget,
Forgetting any other home but this.

And Then, With The Pieces

As soon as you’ve beaten your natural whole into parts, you separate them and begin the story. This creates built-in romance, because the base-line impulse of a fractured energy is to reunite with its other parts.

Aside:

Fractured parts reunited creates a comedy; fractured parts sundered makes a tragedy. Romeo and Juliet is both a comedy (first half) and a tragedy (last half), because the two parts are joined and then parted.

Tension And Conflict Abound

If you ever stopped to reflect on the fecund possibilities for dramatic tension in lovers separated by trial and torment, you may have noticed an existential element to the longings experienced by both parts of the pairing. This occurs because a part of a whole, when isolated, begins to reflect on the meaning of life, and to wonder if existence, alone, is tenable.

After The Street-Fight:

JULIET.¬†Take vp those Cordes, poore ropes you are beguil’d,
Both you and I for Romeo is exild:
He made you for a high-way to my bed,
But I a Maid, die Maiden widowed.
Come Cord, come Nurse, Ile to my wedding bed,
And death not Romeo, take my Maiden head.

And Now, For Our Purposes

How, might you ask, can I apply the principle of the split organic whole to my science fiction? Observe:

Two Distinct Personalities; No Romance:

Halbert and his girlfriend Xusa had been separated for many months in the starry byways; when they met at last on the deck of the luxury cruiser Hal-po-cxthe for their ten-year anniversary, neither could shake the feeling that this was as good as life could possibly get.

Xusa had a shining Ximosa in her hand, Halbert wore his thinnest tie, and the two of them watched the waltzing clockwork bears with peace in their hearts and love in their minds.

In the back of Halbert’s pocket was tucked an invisible Ring of Bonding; he had hidden it there in the morning, and he had yet to work up the courage to pull it out and press the Visibility switch. His throat was dry, and he ordered a SunSchotch to brace for the great moment.

Split Halves Of One Whole; Romance:

Halbert waited at the entrance to the concourse of the plaza, his fingers gripped around the invisible ring. He would give it to her, and she would be his; he had rehearsed this moment in his mind every moment since they had parted four years ago.

Xusa, for her part, had spent fifteen hours ransacking the Yeclian market for the jacket she now wore slung around her shoulders, and her knees were shaking so badly she had switched her hover-heels for plain flat shoes.

He won’t recognize me, she thought for the millionth time as she entered the wide stairs to the plaza. She felt so faint and hurried that she nearly walked out, but the thought of his shining bald head, and the glint that she knew would be in his eye, gave her courage, and she stared at the flagstones and walked in a straight line to the empty fountain.

And, In Conclusion

If you take a natural whole, fragment it, and assign the parts to lovers, your work will have a magnetic impulse that fires the blood and imagination of your reader.

You’re reading Victor Poole. The sculpture I drew can be found here. Editing on my novel is going spectacularly well.