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.


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.


Me, and Whatnot

So you may have noticed that I haven’t published a book for a while.


I made a deal with myself that I would not embarrass myself unduly with performance energy that wasn’t at the reasonable place I could expect from myself. So I’ve been scrubbing up my writing skills gradually.

Also I really don’t want to be in a place where I’m working on books in a series and have only the first few published. I hate that. So I’m finishing some very, very long series all the way before publishing (and occasionally I make character choices partway through a series that require backwards renovations that wouldn’t be possible so much in an already-published book). So there’s that.

Anyway, for my own satisfaction, here are some of the projects I’m working on right now:

The biggest one is the series I keep writing little notes about at the bottom of my posts, about what’s happening in the novel(s) lately. That one is a science fiction bromance flick with a ton of steamy parts. It’s funny because I meant to write an adventure story with a few kisses sprinkled here and there, but after I’d composed the main characters, the, um, overall subterfuge turned hilariously sexy.

The main characters, you see, are in the power of some very cranky old men, and those cranky old men are all sort of obsessed with the one main character procreating so that they can have foster grandbabies to dandle about and coo over.

So there is sexual distraction to foil the deviousness of these old men while the main characters work on escaping their power.

I don’t know if that sounded overly complicated, but that is the very long and delectably steamy series I am building right now.

I have another book that I’m exceptionally fond of about a young man who dies–the book is essentially a zombie novel, but the zombies are shiny, healthy-looking people, and they eat emotions instead of flesh from regular humans, so that’s very interesting to work on.

The first part of that one (technically I would call it a paranormal book, I think) is finished, but I want to spend quite a lot of time fleshing out the narrative tone so that the reader can fully inhabit the main character’s internal journey as the plot unfolds. Right now for most of the book, the voice is focused more on the action and less on the reader’s reception of said action, so I want more padding as far as tone.

Then I’m working on that beast of a partial redraft, the dragon book.


My issue with the book is purely psychological. I’m making slow, steady progress, but it viscerally hurts to work on it because of some structural issues I accidentally put into the damaged areas (the original draft was the second? third? book I ever attempted to write, so there are some genuine weaknesses to be culled out in the second act).

However, the first part of the book is stellar, so I am pushing through. Carefully.

I have a bunch of other things on the back burner, currently. I’m focused on clearing the queue, as it were, and freeing up some space in my mind while building out the eventual bookshelf of finished things.

Slow, slow, slow, but the tortoise perseveres and all that.

You’re reading Victor Poole, and in my current novel, Carrie the invalid is heading back into medical supervision for the second time in one afternoon.

Just Some Dialogue

Like most people who have done small-time Shakespeare production, I have done Midsummer Night’s Dream (more than once).

One time I was talking to the actor I’d chosen to play Flute (the mechanical with the beard coming in), and he was saying that he was surprised I’d picked him, since he was about twice as large as any of my other male actors.

I told him I thought it would look a lot more interesting and have a greater emotional impact to have Thisbe played by a really manly guy, and there was this really strange look on his face.

He started to glow, actually, and I got the impression no one had ever told him he was masculine before, which was weird, because he was.

Also, his Thisbe was inspired. He got into a great falsetto, wore a very loose, bright blonde wig, and died with verve. My Pyramus was equally awesome at dying.


Terrible Dialogue:

Rory slammed his fist on the table!

“Ye gads! This spaceship is a wreck that is likely, more than I’d like to say, to fall into little bits of metal and then where will we all be?!” Rory expostulated, spit flinging from his mouth.

“I think we’ll be fine,” Brunella soothed, patting his arm just like an older sister should. Rory immediately calmed down.

“You’re right. After all, what other choice do we have?” Rory asked, his voice climbing and his eyes sparkling with tears as he thought of their poor, imprisoned parents languishing and awaiting rescue.

“Don’t worry, little brother. We will make it through and be a whole family again,” Brunella said, her own eyes getting steely and determined as she fixed a glare on the middle distance.

“Let’s at least try to fix the landing gear, then,” Rory said, standing up and marching towards the tool box.

“That’s such a good idea. I don’t know why I didn’t think of fixing the landing gear,” his sister said.

Slightly Better Dialogue:

“I’m not stealing another ship,” Rory said, glancing with irritation at his sister, who glared at him with her hands on her hips.

“What other choice do we have? This bucket is going to disintegrate in the middle of our next jump,” Brunella said.

“I’m not doing it. I don’t care that much about mom or dad. They’ll have to get out themselves,” Rory said.

“Out. Get off my ship. I’ll fix it myself,” Brunella said, pushing at Rory and driving him towards the exit.

“You don’t know how to do the internal drives, Brunie,” Rory exclaimed, letting her move him along.

“I’ll figure it out! Or I’ll find another thief!” Brunella said. Rory spun and pinned her against the wall.

“Bruni, they left us. They aren’t waiting. If you get there, they won’t even come with you. Come on,” Rory said. Brunella avoided his eyes. “You know they aren’t waiting, Brunie, come on,” Rory said.

“Get out,” Brunella said.

“Give up on the stupid quest thing, Brunie, and I’ll fix the landing gear,” Rory said.

“That won’t keep the ship together,” Brunella said.

“No, but if the outside looks all right we can sell it and find a scrapper,” Rory said. Brunella started to smile.

You’re reading Victor Poole, and in my current novel, Nancy Sharpson just passed her trial and got added to the team.

The Actress Who Would Make A Good Mouse

I worked with an older man a long time ago on a student project. The entire scenario was a mess; he wanted to produce a classical piece, had neither the chutzpah nor the balls to make the attempt, and reverted to a weird blend of neo-dadaism and theatrical posturing to avoid the question.

In plainer language, he really thought that he ought to play Hamlet, couldn’t talk anyone into using him for a real production, and so wrote a very strange half-experimental mish-mash of soap opera nonsense and called the main character Hamlet.

He played the main character.

Anyway, I dropped out of the project partway through for fairly obvious reasons (namely that he was a mess, the project was a mess, and it was a big visual accident waiting to happen), but the guy had the very rare ability to talk coherently about script construction, so I worked with him for a while on doctoring his (very strange) script.

I should explain, I was in the project at first as an actor. This guy was weird.

The reason I’m writing this now is that I’m thinking about something that happened in auditions and then callbacks for the project.

This guy wanted to use a redhead I knew as the Ophelia character. His reason for choosing her?

“You look like a little mouse, cowering into the corner.”

When being yelled at, she cowered in a way he liked, and he felt this was an appropriate flavor for Ophelia.

Yeah, he was an awful man, and I stopped talking to him after a little while, but the actress was flummoxed by his attitude.

This guy, like a lot of male and female directors I worked with over the years, observed female-presenting actors as mere props to be used in shows for the reactive emotions they could display.

Like being a mouse cowering, or having a good and dignified ‘classical’ face.

I pondered this phenomenon for some time, being in the very odd position of a bio-girl taught to act like a boy and present as a trans-male. My life was complicated. Anyway. I thought about this a lot, and I had grown adept, over the years, at mimicking and creating convincing reproductions of a variety of gendered behaviors.

Because of my background, I approached theatre production with an idea that I could use the leftover actors, the actors that no one else knew how to use or was willing to use.

I picked up the scraps and started to teach them things that I knew how to do.

Off-topic: Here’s a practice sketch for motion.


The reason I’m thinking about this today is that I’ve come, more and more over the years, to see writing as belonging to two general camps: 1. Writing produced by abusers and 2. Writing produced by good people.

Note: Many people who have been abused (and that’s everyone) reproduce abusive attitudes in their writing without at all meaning to; these people are not abusers, and the abuse floats within the writing and is easily fixed.

There are tells everywhere in a genuinely abusive person’s work. The way they strip volition or dignity from some characters while building up the import or abilities of others; the tone they take in describing locales or emotional events; and last but certainly not least, the attitude conveyed by the narrative tone when it comes to disaster.

I’m not going to talk about any of those things right now because reasons, but what I am going to talk about for two more seconds is how to discern whether you are, unwittingly or not, writing abuse into your novel.

Big question, right? Seems like a sweeping overgeneralization, yes? Probably bit off more than I can chew with the proposition, hm?

Well, here’s how to tell, and it’s super easy, and it takes about four seconds.





See, that’s how long it would take to know if you’re writing abusive prose or not.


Here you go, and once you know the procedure, it’s simple and straightforward.

First, you fix your mind on the main character. If you write omni-POV or something, focus your thoughts on the central crew whose thoughts the reader inhabits, or whose actions form the primary connection to the reader’s experience.

Once you have a good emotional hold on the feel of the character or characters, close your eyes and thrust the heat of your heart forward in time, towards the end goal.

Every story has an end goal. Every single one has a purpose, an emotional state that is the finishing picture of the words. Even something vague and fantastical, experimental and seemingly structurally formless, has a distinct and meditative emotional state as the clear end goal.

There is an emotional goal of communication you are attempting to achieve in the reader by writing down words.

If you learn to do this for yourself, you can also apply the trick to any story you pick up or absorb through any means; look for the ending, the panache of “I am complete!” within the progression of the words and doings of the main character or group of characters.

Once you have focused your mind on the main movers, and cast your heart-energy forward into the future, towards the ending and coalescence of the emotion conveyed within the work, ask yourself:

“Up or down?”

Is that eventual, tentative emotional conveyance moving your internal energy up and out, or is your energy moving down and in?

If your internal substructures of energy and soul move in and down, your body and mind are telling you to retreat, to hunker in and protect yourself from harm. If your energy moves out and up, expanding towards the verge of your skin and possibly even extending towards the outer world, beyond the boundary of your physical being, then your body and mind are saying, “Yes, I can grow, I can relax; I am safe.”

Now, that is the four-second test, and here is how you evaluate your results.

If you are looking into your own writing, at a particular story, and your energy moves down and inwards, you are flinching in preparation for kickback from potential readers because you know in your heart that you are deliberately hurting people, and you’re preparing for a fight.

If, when you look into your main characters and cast your heart forward to the emotional end, your energy moves up and outwards, you are sharing your true inner self with genuine, human desire for connection and communication.

I’ll give you half a guess which response indicates abusive writing, and the half-guess doesn’t count.

You’re reading Victor Poole, and today in my current novel, a former prostitute is facing demons with a murderer. There is chocolate involved, as well as doctored identification documents.

There Is No Writing Advice Whatsoever In This Post



My parents wanted me to be a boy. I wasn’t one, but they raised me as one. Consequently, I have a long and mostly annoying history of women treating me like a guy, and men treating me like an attractive boy-sidekick.

The strangest thing about my parents’ willful contortion of my gender was the way members of wider society accepted and encouraged whatever my parents wanted.

My mother seriously dressed me as if I had been a prepubescent boy child transitioning into cozy drag. That was how she dressed me my whole life, and there was a lot of micromanaging and control exerted by all members of my parental family over my appearance and clothing. I wasn’t allowed to have money or buy things for myself. I was literally a dress-up toy.

But as I was saying, the really weird part was how people at church or school just accepted this very not-normal thing my parents were doing to me from birth. I mean, I’m a very feminine girly-girl. My parents had to work very hard to keep me from looking like a glowing cheerleader type, which is what I look like naturally.

But again, the weird thing was how other people just went with it. Boys treated me like a garden-variety, less popular boy. Girls treated me like a useful built-in boy replacement. Adults treated me like a confused young male homosexual. It was just plain weird.

The funny part, though, that I was thinking about yesterday, is that when I performed in live Shakespeare productions in my earlier years, I was a girl pretending (under threats and pressure from my parents) to be a boy pretending to be a girl (to avoid actual interference from CPS) pretending to be a boy (in Shakespeare parlance) pretending to be a girl.

Because Shakespeare practice is for men to perform the female parts in drag. Often I played men, though, since I did a good job pulling off the adolescent boy shtick, so in those instances I was only a girl playing a boy playing a girl playing a boy.

I don’t know if you followed any of that, but it was fun to write down.

In my current series, I’ve got a couple of very straight guys who are in love with the same woman (an alien prisoner), and she wants both of them, so they’re having to learn to get along with each other. It’s cute because the two men and the girl are surrounded by a violent, dangerous gang headed up by a close-knit group of homosexuals, so all the old gangsters just assume from the get-go that the two men are gay. It’s adorable.

I have got no mental juice left for an example today. Maybe we’ll have better luck tomorrow.

You’re reading Victor Poole, and there are birds singing outside my window right now. Also, I overheard a feral cat fight last night. There are no cats in any of my current novels, though I have a really awesome intelligent spy cat in one of my sci-fi development projects.

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.



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.


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.


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.