When Directors Use An Alcoholic Girl To Play . . . An Alcoholic Girl

I keep thinking about this director I had once. I only worked for her the one time, because she was one of the single most deplorable human beings I’ve ever encountered in my life.

She Was A Mother, Wife, Abuser, Liar, And Cheat

She taught theatre classes part time at a local college, and I knew a lot of her students. The whole situation was a mess, because she was a very bad person.

Enter The Drunk Actor

I keep thinking about one of her actors, who had some substance abuse issues that nearly no one knew about. This director, the bad lady, she had a trick of getting vulnerable actors into her office and playing a sympathetic mother figure, and then later on, weeks later, she’d use the secrets she learned in private to humiliate her actors in front of their classmates.

And She Called This, “Teaching Acting”

She did that to this one actor, the one who was trying to not be an addict anymore. I just keep thinking about the student, who was being preyed on, from one side, by a couple of gay actors who harbored the kid after binges and sort of helped her hide things, and on the other side by this evil director.

The director got fired from the college, finally, over some ethics and sexual tangles, and she moved on to try and take advantage of other theatre people somewhere else.

Good Riddance, I Say

I remember being in a rehearsal with this student, the addict, and no one knew about the problem yet. The whole situation is just sad, you know? And there’s something about this kid being used by heartless young men on the one end and this older matron vampire on the other that makes me feel irritated.

Me And My Significant Other, The Super-Impoverished People (At The Time)

My partner and I ran a sort of accidental halfway house for troubled actors at the time, not officially at all, but people showed up at our door a lot, and sometimes they spent the night on a spare couch, or came to be fed. That happened a lot, actually. We helped a lot of sad, lonely young people who were lost.

We Never Knew About This Addict

I’m irritated at this addicted actor’s parents, honestly. I’m angry that the kid had no sense of safety, of knowing who to trust and where to turn for help.

I guess it would help if I explained about me again. I was bred deliberately as a sort of sexual plaything, and never had an actual family. My breeders had a rudimentary grasp of–not style, exactly, but they understood that culture was important, and they preferred their owned objects to have a veneer of class.

Because We Were Bait, And Icons

So I educated myself, because I’m not an idiot, and I don’t like to be beaten much. Partway through giving myself a well-rounded grounding in world literature, at the age of about eight or nine, I started to figure out who was safe, and who wasn’t.

Dangerous Vs. Stupid

My uncle, for example, was a very dangerous man, very powerful, very polished, and you would never, ever peg him as a homosexual. He had a great flair for dramatic camouflage, and seems to be the penultimate family man. Super responsible. He’s getting to be rich now, and he’s very accomplished in the way of legal theft.

Then there’s my particular handler, a very violent kid who was allowed to beat me when I was a child.

Sneaky Grey Areas

You see, when your parents are really your owners and breeders, and if they have any brains at all, they realize pretty quickly that siblings can hit each other, and nobody calls the cops. So we got sorted out, essentially, into who could hit whom, and when, and why. If you kept all the unspoken rules, you didn’t get hit much.

Now, my handler is a violent prick, and a dumb fuck, but he’s very sweet in his deepest soul, and if he’d ever had the guts to fight back against our owners, he might have turned out a little bit. All the evil in him comes from outside, from manipulation external to his actual soul.

As Opposed To Being Originally Evil, Himself

He’s still completely forfeit as a human being, to my mind, because he never did fight back at all, and because he’s a coward who prefers to thrust vulnerable parties in the line of fire rather than face any discomfort himself, but if everything about him was different, I wouldn’t mind him so much.

What I’m trying to say is, I can trust my handler, and I could never in a million years trust that particular uncle. My handler was predictable, and very dim. My uncle’s evil always came from right within his own heart, and he was not good news.

Back To This Alcoholic Girl

Anyway, so I keep thinking about this theatre kid, this miserable, mostly-functional alcoholic, and how the kid didn’t understand the basic, rudimentary lesson of survival among predators: That you have to know which evil dudes to run and hide with, and which to avoid like the plague.

The alcoholic girl was always hiding with the wrong kind of gay guy, and didn’t realize how that was making everything worse.

They Were Selfish Dudes

Not being a stupid person, I never tried to extract the addict, after the truth came out about the problems, but if I could go back in time, I would certainly have done a few things to go after and disable the other kids who were using her as camouflage, and getting her beer on the sly.

The one major gap in my education as an owned object was how to let myself hurt bad people. I can, of course. I just don’t, almost ever. If I went back in time, I’d use my sneaky gossip skills to take apart the shitty methods those boys were using on that poor girl.

And Also

In other news, in my current book, Crikey has made friends with his uncle Max’s new husband, and they are bonding while waiting for the gang trial to run its course.

You’re reading Victor Poole, and I’m writing a science fiction romance about a wild-game hunter, a crime lord, and an alien girl with white, furry wings and a beautiful tail. 

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Abuse Handled Incorrectly In Fiction

Abuse works when it’s explained.

I was reading someone’s story today, and I put it down after the first chapter because the key moment, the whole pivot of the character development, fixed around some badly framed child abuse, and I didn’t want to read a story that had such a clumsy approach to abuse.

So As A Reader, I Jumped Ship

My current series has a lot of abused characters. I’ve got a man who was neglected and beaten as a child, and several old men who were used as sex slaves when they were teenagers. Their backstory shapes a lot of the action in the book, and has everything to do with the choices they make and the way they turn out in the end.

Plus, They’re Gangsters

I have no problem with reality; I have a big huge problem with stories where abuse is handled with implicit approval, or is handed on towards the reader without any groundwork or framing at all. For example, in the story I was reading today, a mother slaps her child, and it forms an awful root of shame in the kid. The slap itself should have been fine, but the mother had been framed previously as a good character (a protective, helpful person to the child).

That’s Terrible Writing, And Poor Storytelling

Changing lanes in the middle of a scene, and giving previously protective characters actions that are outright damaging and abusive, without any framing or contextual buildup to the harsh action, is disruptive and bad storytelling.

Example

Terrible Writing:

Lena made the soup and laid out four little bowls. The children came in from playing, and she helped each of them wash their hands at the kitchen sink before ladling out the stew and giving each tyke a lump of bread to dip in their soup.

“Martha stole all the pebbles,”  the oldest child explained.

“I didn’t!” the littlest one snapped.

“She did, and she ate one of them,” a middle kid proclaimed.

“Martha, give me those rocks,” Lena said, her voice stern and kindly.

Martha delivered up colored glass pebbles with an impatient sigh, and Lena … (add in violent action that I am unwilling to write because it damages the reader to drop unframed abuse into a scene).

Good Writing:

Lena stirred the soup and leaned out the kitchen window.

“Martha!” Lena called sharply.

“He made me!” a childish voice screeched back.

“Put the rocks down, Martha. Don’t! No!” Lena said. The sound of high-pitched squeals, and a long, drawn out shriek of indignant agony flooded through the air. Lena sighed and put down her spoon. She went out of the kitchen and returned in a moment, holding a struggling girl of three.

“Jill said all the blue ones are mine! She traded me!” the little girl shrieked.

“You cannot throw rocks at people, sweetie,” Lena said.

“I will kick you in the face, Nana!” the girl cried. Lena sighed and carted the child away to a farther room.

When the kitchen was empty, a boy of nine poked in his face and looked around.

“She’s gone,” he hissed. He and another little boy with very dirty hands crept into the kitchen, laid hold of a basket of rolls, and departed with stifled giggles.

Lena came back into the kitchen, glanced at where the rolls had been, and went outside.

In Conclusion

Reality is better than artificially contrived abuse, and violence is always acceptable when framed appropriately, and when it is either coming from an immature person or an evil, depraved entity. Unframed, floating abuse does not make for compelling backstory, and characters really perform poorly when made to do violent acts purely for drama in the plot.

You’re reading Victor Poole, and in my current project, Crikey’s uncle Pops is coming to visit today. Pops is in the bad practice of mixing barbiturates with alcohol, and Crikey doesn’t know Pops is a booze hound. I think Crikey is going to find out today, and Crikey and Pops are going to have a falling out. I’m excited about that.

2 Simple Methods of Execution For Use In Turning A Conquering Empire Into A Monolithic Caste

Horigo spun, his face wild as he saw the Ben-sa approach. Mary, now would be great, he sent through the ether. There was a gentle warmth, a sort of soothing heat through his metal as soon as he spoke, and he knew that she had heard. Thank you, goddess, he thought fervently.

The first alien melted quite suddenly into a pool of white, viscous goo. The alien’s metal limbs dropped down onto the ground as its body disintegrated. The other Ben-saw froze, their eyes on their companion.

“Surrender me your slaves, and all the codes for this quadrant of space, or all of you will meet that fate,” Horigo said in the harsh, jangling language of his former masters.

The female alien just behind the melted one made that familiar snarl, the warning of certain death. Horigo thought of death for her, and Mary’s power responded in a flash of consuming fire. The female shrieked for a bare instant before her flesh and cartilaginous bones vanished in a scorching inferno that melted her metal limbs into abhorrent shapes.

The Ben-sa howled, their limbs skittering as they scrambled back from the roaring flame.

Horigo pulled his own power up from the depths of his bones and made an immaterial fence. The Ben-sa bounced and fell, when they ran up against it. Only two kept their heads long enough to see the ridges of sky-blue energy he drew around them all, and these froze, their eye-stalks moving towards him, as to a superior god.

Kill all of them but those two who are quiet, my love, Horigo sent, and all but the two sensible Ben-sa melted instantaneously into muck.

“Bring me this metal from your fallen brothers, and command your slaves into my ship,” Horigo said. “If you please me, by the end, I may show mercy.”

One of the remaining Ben-sa made an unholy shriek of furious grief, but the two aliens went to the bodies of their companions, and gathered the white-bloodied metal into their arms.

What do you think, Mary? Horigo asked.

Look at the male nearest you. He wants a cleaner life. Let him kill the other, as a test, and bring him home to me, she said.

“Hey, you,” Horigo said, pointing his whole arm at the nearest male. The Ben-sa male stopped, his eye-stalks narrowing with fear.

You’re reading Victor Poole. This is a future bit from my in-progress human cyborg series.

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

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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. 

Adding Intoxication And Arousal To Your Novel

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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.

Totally Off-Topic Today

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

Too Many Feelings

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

Hopefully You Have Nice Parents

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

But Victor, It’s A Writing Blog!

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

Oddly, My Parents Really Liked Me

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

I Was The Most Useful Kid

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

And They’re Too Poor For Optional Medicine

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

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

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

For Some People, Depression Is A Satisfying Lifestyle

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

Ah, Mental Disorder Mixed With Worship!

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

They Also Steal And Cheat

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

Except I Don’t, Really. Only Kinda

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

Which Worked For A While, As We Can See

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

On A Lighter Note

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

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