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.


Am I a crank or a realist? I generally see the best in people, but I sort of think that I shouldn’t, based on experience of a few rude goblins disguised as people.

For example, this afternoon I’m thinking about some writers I used to know several years ago. They hardly got any work done–and I don’t say this as a comment on their inherent worth as people, but as a factual statement about their visceral output of material. They didn’t write much, but they based their identities around being writers.

I suppose I should write that more like this:


I don’t approve of the way they acted around other people. I don’t approve of the way they spoke about themselves, their work, or the writing of other people.

Am I a crank?

There was one kid who was working on a couple of short stories. He wanted to write screenplays, but he was busy with a day job (which I respect). He gave me a pile of stories to read once. We were talking about developing some tele-plays together, possibly. I ended up moving away shortly thereafter, but I have never forgotten one of this person’s short stories, which was about a group of kids tormenting each other and creating a secret ritual out of swearing and pulling apart dead animals.

The feeling in my heart at the end of the piece was, “Why?”

I had no answer to the question. Why? Why write about children destroying each other and mutilating the body of a small fuzzy creature? What was the point? I had no answer to the question, which led me to ask another question entirely:

And Here’s That Question:

What did this young man get out of writing the story?

That answer was easy and clear: He wrote to pass on abuse.

You see, you can package bad emotion into words and let it grow, then push it along in the stream of life and give the ugly feelings to someone else. It’s wrong, but you can do it.

Disguised As A Growing-Up Tale

The structure of the story was misleading, and the abuse was tucked in near the end, to maximize the potential impact of the reader continuing on to read the ending if they’d made it that far already.

I read another opening paragraph from a different writer’s crime novel this afternoon, and I got a swift headache because of the choppy, mis-mashed state of each sentence.

Every word was ill-chosen, jammed in beside other words that did not cooperate or form any poetic impact.

Why did this crime writer choose these words? And what did he get out of writing them with such a lack of coherent rhythm?

Chaos, Not Pleasing

I suppose what I really mean when I ask if I am a crank is that I am responding to human beings’ behavior as if they are choosing deliberately to be as they are.

I get the impression, in general, that the unwashed masses (and the washed ones, too) have entered an implicit agreement, en masse, to avoid responsibility for their committed acts in a sort of group-avoidance of emotional consequence. I do not approve of this state of affairs.

Here’s a sample of science fiction writing:


Life with being inside the big place was just changed for her. She felt alive, but also lost. She tamed the interest always catching behind her features, though in her heart, things hopped, and her body felt changed in every way after she’d discovered how things really were. Mary felt so superior now!

Two other people on the main floor left, and returned before long. Nothing seemed to have been taking place at all, but something was going on, she was sure. I am not as important as I thought I might be, Mary reflected inside the confines of her private mind. Those monsters, not all human, distracted her thoughts continually and she shivered to think that she might at one point have been chosen to become one! The horror it would have been!


Life in the Museum was fundamentally changed for Mary. She no longer looked past the cyborgs. She was alive to the precariousness of her position, and did not distinguish herself from the other humans in any material way, but her eyes were no longer blank. She looked at things, and she was taken aback at what she saw happening in plain view.

She saw two women pulled out for testing in the first month. She had now, she realized, become so used to taking events in the Museum as a matter of course that it took her a full ten minutes after the second woman left to think through to the fact that these women were probably going to be impregnated in a secure room near the cyborg half of the building.

In conclusion

Remember that somewhere out there are a few cranks, and when they see your earnest and honest endeavors to write building, socially-constructive stories, they will be very proud of you for being a good egg, and may even send benevolent well-wishes through the ether of time and space. Or you’ll just feel really good about yourself for being better at storytelling than the rest of the bunch.

You’re reading Victor Poole, and in my current novel, Vincento is about to preside over a war council.

Why Breathing Is A Better Strategy Than Panicking


Here is a sketch from me looking at landscapes.

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

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

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

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

I’m Also Agonizing Over Comma Styles Lately

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

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

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

BAD Writing

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

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

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

(Sudden flashback to years earlier!)

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

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

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

(Return to present moment.)

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

GOOD Writing

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

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

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

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

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

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

And So

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

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

A Pep Talk Targeted At Me (But You Can Totally Listen In)

My kids keep singing little songs from Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. You know, it took me a long time to figure out that show was a spin-off from Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood? I wasn’t paying any attention to it at first; it was just noise in the background. I kept feeling like, ‘Why do they have a trolley, and make this big deal about putting on his sweater? It’s just like Mr. Rogers!’


Now For My Pep Talk At Me!

So, on to your performance rocking. This is how it usually goes: You sit down to do something awesome, and within the first fifteen minutes you find yourself having a full-blown crisis over the meaning of life.

Part of you is like, ‘Why am I worrying about the meaning of life when I just want to make some awesome shit!?’, and the other parts of you are thinking about how you’re too old to be successful, what the weather is like, and whether or not anything really exciting and unexpected might occur later on. (It usually doesn’t, though.)


The answer is to ignore the crisis and carry on with making the awesome shit. I mean, the crisis is going to happen whether or not you participate fully in it. Your mind is like a searchlight, roving around and fixating on different things. You can move the spotlight onto making awesome stuff or you can turn it on your mostly pointless and self-fulfilling dramatics of failure and disappointment, yadda-etc.

The big difference between a secure, successful performer and a working-on-it amateur is the attitude. Rock-solid performers carry on and focus on the task at hand while the other people sprint around flapping their hands and squawking about the meaning of life. I’m not actually exaggerating. So to fix performance, let us shove our collective nose in against the metaphorical grindstone of doing shit anyway and carry on.

This Is Me Cheerleading For Myself (Hoo-Rah, Etc.)

And the answer is not to work harder. The answer is to work at a normal pace without getting sucked into freaking out. Worrying about hypotheticals doesn’t count as working, though it will wear us out if we pour our energy into the exercise.


BAD Writing: Horrible Obfuscation

Bicken threw paper up towards the ceiling and caught it, his rangy form spread over the divan. The paper made a whisper as it soared up.

“Who’ve we got at three?” Bicken asked.

The boy had a knife tucked into the back of his pants.

“New guys, two.”

“I told dad no. Go tell him again,” Bicken said.

“He won’t listen.”

“Then go cross out one of the names in the book and write it underneath,” Bicken said, flinging his paper at the boy.

“I can’t. You have Xixthor,” the boy said. Bicken scowled and got up.

“Dad!” Bicken shouted, going out.

GOOD Writing: Clues and Imagery Added

The lights burned a soft gold in the late-night shadows of the small room. Bicken threw a wadded ball of paper up towards the ceiling and caught it, his rangy form spread over the rich divan. He wore soft pants and an open robe of shimmering silk that showed off his shaved torso. The crumpled paper made a slight whisper as Bicken tossed it up through the air. A boy of twelve stood in the open doorway, his arms folded and his body an expression of malevolent caution.

“Who’ve we got at three?” Bicken asked, watching his projectile touch the ceiling and drop down again.

The boy in the doorway studied Bicken; the little kid’s eyes were dark blue, angry, and full of a vengeful portent that Bicken discounted as growing pains. The boy had a secret knife tucked into the waist of his pants and hidden under his shirt.

“A couple of guys.”

“I told dad I won’t do two at once. Go tell him I said no,” Bicken snapped with an irritable twist in his mouth.

“He doesn’t listen to me.”

“Then go cross out one of the names in the book and move it down to the next slot. They’ll have to take turns,” Bicken said, flinging his paper ball at his half-brother, who dodged aside.

“I can’t. You have Xixthor Ean right after that,” the boy said. Bicken scowled and got up, shoving past the kid as he went out of the room.

“Dad!” Bicken shouted. The boy put his hand against his secret knife as soon as Bicken was gone. Wait until after, he thought, and then kill him. Catero’s heart was pounding.

The End Of The Pep Talk

Just keep moving forward and don’t lose your head, Victor Poole. Yay you. Etc. And so on.

Here’s a sketch I worked on today. I’m studying motion and active, forceful lines. The source image is here.


You’re reading Victor Poole, and today in my current novel, Josh Bains participated in some socially-inflaming displays of affection with his lover and was spied on by rival gangsters.

Old Rage And Projects

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

Victor Poole, You Are Weird

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

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

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

Victor Poole, Where’s That Dragon Book?

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

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

Except It’s Time-Consuming

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

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

Spheres And Cubes, Right Now

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


Heinous Writing

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

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

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

Better Writing

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

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

And So

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

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

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

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

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

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

Emotional Texture

Last night I was thinking about emotional texture underlying words. This is so easy to put in, and is analogous to emotional history work and secrets for an actor.

Richness And  Complexity

When you play a character on stage, the first thing you do to develop the role is say the lines out loud, and feel how they sound in your mouth.

As an author, the first draft is a similar experience, as you feel out how the actions go and see how they lay visually on the page when conveyed in words.

More Practice

(Here is a texture study of an octopus that I am working on. Source photos is here.)


Once you’ve felt out the sounds of the action, or the lines of dialogue, you start to play pretend, and that’s where emotional texture comes in.

I was watching a film the other day and was noticing how the emotional texturing had been completely left out of the dialogue. The characters were speaking first-draft words, and the storied history of the implied exchange was missing, though the actors were doing a bang-up job of pushing a lot of emotional history work in despite the undeveloped writing.

Emotional Texture

Emotional texture is created by regular injections of

  1. Personalized, internally-processed sensory input. One particular character sees, hears, smells, feels, or touches something targeted and specific.
  2. That same character has a past-reflective reaction to the sensory experience.

Basically you’re creating an anchor in the deep past within the character and coating that anchor with present sensations. This makes layers within the emotional feel of the character and gives you texture, history, and depth.

Super easy.

Here’s what it looks like when you leave emotional texture out and then what it looks like if you put the texture in afterwards:

BAD Writing:

Damien shut down the simulator and went down the hallway to the murder room.

“How was it that time?” he asked through the speaker grid.

“Pretty good, I think. Let’s run it one more time with, um, the butane levels up another two percent. I feel like we can get a stronger burn effect over the clothes,” a woman’s voice replied.

“Sure thing. Tell me when you’re set in there,” Damien said. A moment passed.

“Go for it,” the woman said. Damien nodded and strolled back to the master desk to activate the fire jets once more.

GOOD Writing:

Damien shut down the simulator; the black grip of the handle made a soft impress against his palm, and the familiar shoot of excitement traveled down his spine as he thought of what the body would look like this time. He’d felt this way ever since his first experiments on the manikins, and the anticipation never dulled. Damien licked his lower lip and went down the hallway to the locked murder room.

“How’s it looking? Did we get the scorch marks?” Damien asked through the speaker grid. A faint crackle came from the other side where one of the women, Avery this time, was overseeing the facsimile corpse while wearing a protective suit.

“This is pretty good, I think,” Avery said through the speaker. “Before you come in I want to see how we do with a little more heat on the inside of the flame and less burn on the shell. Let’s run it one more time with, um, the butane levels up another two percent. I feel like we can get a stronger burn effect over the clothes with the charring we’re looking for.” Avery’s voice came through with a tinny vibration from the combination of the speaker on her suit and the grid in the wall.

“Sure thing. Tell me when you’re set in there,” Damien said. A moment passed. Damien felt the rush of air conditioning tickle against his face and imagined the sear and stink of burning plastic and formative synthetic flesh that would be filling the murder room right now. Avery would be turning the body, arranging the un-singed half of the corpse against the metallic torch the department was developing.

Another light crackle came at the mesh speaker.

“Go for it,” Avery said. Damien tapped his knuckles against the speaker grid and strolled back to the control desk to adjust the fuel settings and activate the fire jet once more.

And So

When writing, consider emotional texture, and see if you’re putting in the kind of emotionally-satisfying ribbing underneath the character interactions and dialogue that lends richness, clear history, and depth to your words.

Emotional texture requires present sensation combined with past-anchored reactions to the sensation. Easy peasy, and enjoyable to write, too.

You’re reading Victor Poole, and Ashley Kelly’s relatives are turning out to be epic heels and destroyers of happiness and childhood. Also, Catero has adopted another son, and the young man’s name is Esteban.