Writing For Realism

27 10 2022

Have a look at these spooky stories on Jezebel.com. Every year, Jezebel solicits spooky stories from readers, stories that are supposed to be “true” and to “have actually happened”.

Which ones do you think are hooey?

More important, why do you think so?

Even more important, how can you avoid these writers’ mistakes and make your fiction seem more “real”?

I’ve been reading them every year for well over a decade. I can’t conclusively prove any story is fake. The editors and writers rarely suppose or reveal a fake story. The very idea of “fake” presupposes the events did not occur. It is possible the events are “true”, but the process of writing and editing the story, embellishing or rearranging those events, made the stories more traditionally compelling, but too pat, and not seem “real”.

Every year I eagerly go to Jezebel, read these, and grumble “fake, fake, fake…” Then “ooh that might have happened. Why do I think this one happened?”

This is what makes a story seem more “real” to me:

Avoiding traditional plot beats. Some of the Jezebel stories start out with small creepy events, build to disturbing occurrences, to finally burst into a decidedly frightful outcome. You know, just like a fictional spooky story. Reality seldom follows a beginning, escalate, climax. Reality is most often in media res: something’s been going on for a while, then the observer becomes involved. Or the events are disparate. Scattered. Happening to different people at different locales with the information of those events not being brought together until much later.

Mundane “cinematography”. Real life does not translate well into art. Few dramatic images. And real life never uses director tricks found in student films. Take the Jezebel story where the nurse is watching a surveillance monitor switching through camera feeds, or the story where the spooky thing gets closer each time the protagonist looks away. I know I’ve seen a movie with the feeds, and three movies with that spooky thing getting closer when you look away.

Avoiding conclusions or convenient supporting info. “Much later, I was told that a serial killer had lived in that apartment.”

Having emotional impact. Remember that story with the nurse and the cameras? She had been told about a priest coming to bless Room Four, but she didn’t know why. So a patient was put in this room. She saw a shadowy figure on the camera. The patient died of “heart attack”. She quit her job. No mention of that dead patient, though. Shruggy emoticon!

All of this year’s Jezebel stories, with the slight exception of the attempted kidnapping one, end with “shruggy emoticon.” No long term trauma or guilt because the characters have no life outside the story. There is no effort to create a sense of loss carried outside the story.

Let’s look at a found footage movie that I think gets it right, “Hell House LLC.” Writer/director Cognetti starts the movie “documentary” by telling the characters the Abaddon Hotel is haunted. Almost the first third of the movie is spent establishing characters. The prankster friend-cameraman finds the first weird events, but everyone believes his footage is faked. Tension builds due to the tight, twisting halls and stairs, not camera tricks. The climax builds due to the occult influences counting down to Halloween night. Look for this movie. No gore. No cheating. Just suspense. At the end, things get implausible but by then you’re hooked.

A traditional movie that seems “real” is “Session Nine”. At the end of the story, not a single character fully understands what has happened to them. The viewer does and it’s chilling. I wish I could write something like this.

I’ve seen short stories which eschew three-beat plots and get their chills from plausibility. Author Gemma Files seems to be making this style her niche and I encourage you to find her work online.

I’ll point out others who do really well whenever I can.





Tim Waggoner Writes Monsters. Here’s How!

18 10 2022

Prolific and award-winning author Tim Waggoner tells how he creates new monsters.

If I may add, I would advise taking an unsettling, compelling image you find and trying to animate it. For example, think of a garland of bright red roses. How might that be made into a monster? What would it eat? Would it crawl like a snake? Writhe through the vacuum of space?





Articles About Writing!

14 10 2022

Consider Setting Your Story During A Notable Time Period, courtesy of This Is Horror.

The Ten Best Writing Exercises. The headline aside, I do recommend writing to your expertise. Writing needs to bring the reader into a new environment, and writers often use their day jobs as setting in their fiction. Why not use yours?

A Personal Vision Statement. What do you want out of writing? Kierkegard says to allay your anxiety by picking a direction and just write (according to a YouTube I watched). Ayn Rand says art should inspire the best (According to my former roommate, who was both an Objectivist and devotee of Baba Jee). At the very least, this will get wheels turning and kill five minutes.

You Want Some Cool Monster Designers? Go to Twitter just long enough to look at these artists. Then get the Hell out because its Godforsaken Twitter.





How To Revise A Synopsis and Why

4 10 2022

Remember the synopsis I posted last time? My professional writer friends had some input. First, though, some things I learned about the novel submitted,ission process:

There is no set form to a synopsis. Each editor and agent will have their own preferences about how a synopsis is structured. For example, I had read a guideline that a synopsis is supposed to be a beat-for-beat plot description. An agent may want a synopsis with more enticing language without spoiling the novel’s ending. A different agent may want some other structure. I find this annoying, but this is how the world works.

Have a look at my last post, then come back and read this revision from my friend in the Noble Fusion Eastern Court:

SYNOPSIS OF “THE FLESH SUTRA” AND “SAINTS OF FLESH”

In 1890s Boston, the mystic ALECSI KERESH is visited by THOMAS SPALDING and his wife OLIVIA CORMIER SPALDING. Thomas suffers from a life-threatening brain tumor. Alecsi has helped others banish serious illnesses. 

Olivia learns Alecsi’s mysticism. Alecsi is impressed with Olivia’s great talent. They fall in love. Thomas catches the lovers and murders Alecsi. 

Now a spirit, Alecsi forces himself into Thomas’ tumor. Alecsi gestates and births himself from Thomas’ eye. Alecsi has violated his beliefs by murdering and creating himself as a creature outside of nature. Standing over the homunculus Alecsi, Olivia declares that she is ready to learn everything.

Olivia conceals the murder by burning down the mansion. She is cut off from the Spaulding fortune. She and Alecsi flee to California. She meets with an old family friend MRS. CARUTHERS, who mourns her husband. Alecsi helps Olivia contact his spirit. Olivia gains entree into San Francisco society.

A noted stage magician courts her. Jealous, Alecsi seals the magician’s soul into a maggot in his mother’s grave.

Olivia starts a school of spiritualism. Mystics travel from all over the world to learn. 

The school is denounced by a local Christian firebrand. Alecsi provokes the firebrand’s own mystic abilities. Olivia crushes the firebrand’s soul under visions of her hypocrisy.

Public opinion turns against the school. Olivia sponsors a local politician and teaches him how to seem a champion in everyone’s eyes. Alecsi grows jealous. Conflicting perceptions of the politician wrenches him apart during a speech. Olivia is now a social outcast. She and Alecsi reconcile.

Olivia flings the school into San Francisco’s artistic community. Students say that they see visions of a man with a bleeding eye. 

Alecsi realizes that Thomas’ soul is still bound to them. As an abomination, Alecsi is outside of karma. As long as he exists, Thomas must haunt them. Thomas’ appearances grow more threatening.

Alecsi dreams of a teacher in an Asian jungle. The man calls to Alecsi, saying he can help Alecsi grow beyond his stunted, cancerous physique. A talented student who can transport himself to whatever location is in his line of sight. The student discovers Alecsi’s existence. Alecsi resolves to travel to Asia with the student. 

At a salon, Mrs. Carruthers is shot by Thomas. Olivia’s oldest friend dies cursing Olivia. Olivia tells the police the student traveling with Alecsi is the murderer. The student and Alecsi go by ship to Asia.

On the ship, Alecsi’s existence now bends the laws of nature. Ghosts torment the crew. The ship itself succumb to darkness. The student and Alecsi slip overboard and watch the ship sail into damnation.

Olivia sees her abilities waning and that adds to her despair over Alecsi’s departure. 

Alecsi and the student find the teacher. Alecsi learns to compromise with his guilty conscious, allowing him to reshape his original body for hours at a time. Thomas appears and sends the student into space. Alecsi is captured. 

As Alecsi becomes more powerful, so does Thomas. Thomas brings Alecsi back to the now-corrupted school. Alecsi is kept in a basin of acid to keep him from growing. The now-malicious students bury Olivia alive, taunting her fear of death.

Sensing Alecsi is near, Olivia overcomes her morbid terror. She projects her spirit in order to entrance her captors into disinterring her body. Olivia confronts her former students, who thanks to Thomas, can invoke horrors. Bloodied, she is victorious and saves Alecsi.  

The school lay abandoned. For as long as Alecsi lives, Thomas must remain. Olivia will never abandon Alexandri.  Olivia, Alecsi, and Thomas settle into a deathless detente, awaiting some new influence through the ages to break the impasse.

Make it clear with heading what synopsis belongs to which book

At the start of “Saints of Flesh”, Olivia lives in the ruins of her school of spiritualism. She had mummified herself fifty years ago in the 1970s after her lover and guru Alecsi left her. She is haunted by the spirit of her husband THOMAS, who she and Alecsi murdered in the 1890s. Olivia wants Alecsi back and has been using her spiritualist abilities to find someone to help help her. GRETCHEN FIGGS responds to Olivia’s enticements. Gretchen has cancer, and she allows Olivia to possess her body to cure her disease. Now Olivia can use three keepsakes to locate Alecsi, and use Gretchen for any physical work. 

Gretchen’s possession is discovered by her friend DEVIN BAY, an occultist. Devin tries to provoke Olivia by performing a ceremony in her school, but is attacked by the unique toxic butterflies which brood at the school.

Gretchen and Olivia discover that someone had stolen the keepsakes: a terrarium, artwork by Alecsi and Olivia, and a silver bowl. 

Olivia uses her tenuous psychic connection with the first keepsake to locate it with MARKO KRATOS. Markos uses the psychically charged terrarium to grow potent herbs. Marko had been using these herbs, as well as sending them to mysterious clients. Gretchen and Olivia discover Marko is guarded by a tupil, a psychically created creature. They defeat the tupil, resulting in Marko’s death. Olivia wonders, How did an herbalist know how to create a tupil?

Olivia attempts to reduce Gretchen’s cancer but finds fighting the tumors an overwhelming task. She believes Alecsi will cure Gretchen when they find him. A still-living Devin Bay approaches Gretchen at the school. He is now possessed by Thomas, and they hint there is a vast power at work. They warn Olivia to cease her search. Gretchen realizes the butterflies have vanished, not only from the school, but from all record. What could twist reality enough to remove a sub-species? Olivia is dismayed, but persists in the search.

Gretchen uses Marko’s electronic devices to uncover ELSIE MCDONOUGH, a psychic with a kitchy reputation. Elsie owns a museum of cursed objects. Gretchen and Olivia visit and discover the museum basement filled with items possessed by spirits who prophesize disasters. Olivia’s artwork cows the spirits into obedience. A spirit interferes, one looking like a much younger Olivia. In the fight for the artwork, Gretchen ignites a fire. The spirit withdraws. But Olivia and Gretchen accidentally kill Elsie. They escape the fire with the artwork.

The spirits of the cursed items fled their incinerated objects and now possess Gretchen’s tumors. Olivia is distraught. How can she fight them? Who is this spirit, who Olivia calls the Imposter? How can she cure Gretchen? 

Worse, Thomas and Bay have returned. Thomas has gathered a demolition crew to level the school. Could Olivia exist without her school?

Clues from a strange artwork created by Alecsi point to a village in a valley. Marko’s devices refer to an altruistic organization in a similar shaped valley. Olivia feels close to finding Alecsi.

Gretchen and Olivia visit the campus. The campus is infused with the energy of the Imposter. A house in the mountains gleam with Alecsi’s aura. The members of the organization too are infused with the Imposter and Alecsi. They detain Gretchen in the house. Gretchen and Olivia discover that the Imposter herself is a tupil, one who was created by Alecsi himself. Alecsi stole the keepsakes to fuel this altruistic organization: Marko’s herbs were used to bolster Elsie and the organization’s abilities; Prophesies from the cursed items told where help was needed; The Imposter used the prophesies to guide the psychic energy. Alecsi provided the reality-ability energy by bathing in acid within Olivia’s silver bowl. His channeled agony powers the Imposter in twisting reality and thwarting the prophesies.

Alecsi had been working with Thomas to dissuade Olivia from her quest. Olivia is devastated by Alecsi’s betrayal. Alecsi needs the prophetic spirits to continue his work. He needs the keepsakes at the school as well. The Imposter uses his energy to twist reality and capture Gretchen.

Gretchen finds herself dismembered but still alive, a living shrine to the prophets. Gretchen provokes Olivia to action. Olivia realizes she too can control Alecsi’s wild energy. She brings Gretchen back to the School safe and whole. The demolition crew is readying their destruction. Olivia frightens them away.

Betrayed, challenged, Olivia realizes she is more powerful than she has allowed herself to be. She realizes the Imposter’s weakness and defeats it. His creation defeated, Alecsi arrives at the school to get the keepsakes and the cursed spirits. Olivia twists reality to place the cursed spirits into Alecsi’s body. 

Thomas’ soul is released to reincarnate. Bay flees, terrified.

Sometime later, Olivia restores her body. She and Gretchen entice a small-town tycoon to his doom. They provide a disturbingly organic jewelry to an aspiring businesswoman. Another chapter of Olivia’s life begins.

This splits the difference between advertising copy and the rather dry copy of my last post. It has rhythms, color, and vitality.

The upshot of all this is: be prepared to make different synopsis. Contact who you wish to send the synopsis to and find out their preferred structure.

The thought go doing that fills me with anxiety, but this is the next step.





Synopsis of What I’ve Been Writing

22 09 2022

SYNOPSIS OF “THE FLESH SUTRA” AND “SAINTS OF FLESH” 

In 1890s Boston, the mystic ALECSI KERESH is visited by THOMAS SPALDING and his wife OLIVIA CORMIER SPALDING. Thomas suffers from a life-threatening brain tumor. Alecsi has helped others banish serious illnesses.  

Olivia learns Alecsi’s mysticism. Alecsi is impressed with Olivia’s great talent. They fall in love. Thomas catches the lovers and murders Alecsi.  

Now a spirit, Alecsi forces himself into Thomas’ tumor. Alecsi gestates and births himself from Thomas’ eye. Alecsi has violated his beliefs by murdering and creating himself as a creature outside of nature. Standing over the homunculus Alecsi, Olivia declares that she is ready to learn everything. 

Olivia conceals the murder by burning down the mansion. She is cut off from the Spaulding fortune. She and Alecsi flee to California. She meets with an old family friend MRS. CARUTHERS, who mourns her husband. Alecsi helps Olivia contact his spirit. Olivia gains entree into San Francisco society. 

A noted stage magician courts her. Jealous, Alecsi seals the magician’s soul into a maggot in his mother’s grave. 

Olivia starts a school of spiritualism. Mystics travel from all over the world to learn.  

The school is denounced by a local Christian firebrand. Alecsi provokes the firebrand’s own mystic abilities. Olivia crushes the firebrand’s soul under visions of her hypocrisy. 

Public opinion turns against the school. Olivia sponsors a local politician and teaches him how to seem a champion in everyone’s eyes. Alecsi grows jealous. Conflicting perceptions of the politician wrenches him apart during a speech. Olivia is now a social outcast. She and Alecsi reconcile. 

Olivia flings the school into San Francisco’s artistic community. Students say that they see visions of a man with a bleeding eye.  

Alecsi realizes that Thomas’ soul is still bound to them. As an abomination, Alecsi is outside of karma. As long as he exists, Thomas must haunt them. Thomas’ appearances grow more threatening. 

Alecsi dreams of a teacher in an Asian jungle. The man calls to Alecsi, saying he can help Alecsi grow beyond his stunted, cancerous physique. A talented student who can transport himself to whatever location is in his line of sight. The student discovers Alecsi’s existence. Alecsi resolves to travel to Asia with the student.  

At a salon, Mrs. Carruthers is shot by Thomas. Olivia’s oldest friend dies cursing Olivia. Olivia tells the police the student traveling with Alecsi is the murderer. The student and Alecsi go by ship to Asia. 

On the ship, Alecsi’s existence now bends the laws of nature. Ghosts torment the crew. The ship itself succumb to darkness. The student and Alecsi slip overboard and watch the ship sail into damnation. 

Olivia sees her abilities waning and that adds to her despair over Alecsi’s departure.  

Alecsi and the student find the teacher. Alecsi learns to compromise with his guilty conscious, allowing him to reshape his original body for hours at a time. Thomas appears and sends the student into space. Alecsi is captured.  

As Alecsi becomes more powerful, so does Thomas. Thomas brings Alecsi back to the now-corrupted school. Alecsi is kept in a basin of acid to keep him from growing. The now-malicious students bury Olivia alive, taunting her fear of death. 

Sensing Alecsi is near, Olivia overcomes her morbid terror. She projects her spirit in order to entrance her captors into disinterring her body. Olivia confronts her former students, who thanks to Thomas, can invoke horrors. Bloodied, she is victorious and saves Alecsi.   

The school lay abandoned. For as long as Alecsi lives, Thomas must remain. Olivia will never abandon Alexandri.  Olivia, Alecsi, and Thomas settle into a deathless detente, awaiting some new influence through the ages to break the impasse. 

At the start of “Saints of Flesh”, Olivia lives in the ruins of her school of spiritualism. She had mummified herself fifty years ago in the 1970s after her lover and guru Alecsi left her. She is haunted by the spirit of her husband THOMAS, who she and Alecsi murdered in the 1890s. Olivia wants Alecsi back and has been using her spiritualist abilities to find someone to help help her. GRETCHEN FIGGS responds to Olivia’s enticements. Gretchen has cancer, and she allows Olivia to possess her body to cure her disease. Now Olivia can use three keepsakes to locate Alecsi, and use Gretchen for any physical work.  

Gretchen’s possession is discovered by her friend DEVIN BAY, an occultist. Devin tries to provoke Olivia by performing a ceremony in her school, but is attacked by the unique toxic butterflies which brood at the school. 

Gretchen and Olivia discover that someone had stolen the keepsakes: a terrarium, artwork by Alecsi and Olivia, and a silver bowl.  

Olivia uses her tenuous psychic connection with the first keepsake to locate it with MARKO KRATOS. Markos uses the psychically charged terrarium to grow potent herbs. Marko had been using these herbs, as well as sending them to mysterious clients. Gretchen and Olivia discover Marko is guarded by a tupil, a psychically created creature. They defeat the tupil, resulting in Marko’s death. Olivia wonders, How did an herbalist know how to create a tupil? 

Olivia attempts to reduce Gretchen’s cancer but finds fighting the tumors an overwhelming task. She believes Alecsi will cure Gretchen when they find him. A still-living Devin Bay approaches Gretchen at the school. He is now possessed by Thomas, and they hint there is a vast power at work. They warn Olivia to cease her search. Gretchen realizes the butterflies have vanished, not only from the school, but from all record. What could twist reality enough to remove a sub-species? Olivia is dismayed, but persists in the search. 

Gretchen uses Marko’s electronic devices to uncover ELSIE MCDONOUGH, a psychic with a kitchy reputation. Elsie owns a museum of cursed objects. Gretchen and Olivia visit and discover the museum basement filled with items possessed by spirits who prophesize disasters. Olivia’s artwork cows the spirits into obedience. A spirit interferes, one looking like a much younger Olivia. In the fight for the artwork, Gretchen ignites a fire. The spirit withdraws. But Olivia and Gretchen accidentally kill Elsie. They escape the fire with the artwork. 

The spirits of the cursed items fled their incinerated objects and now possess Gretchen’s tumors. Olivia is distraught. How can she fight them? Who is this spirit, who Olivia calls the Imposter? How can she cure Gretchen?  

Worse, Thomas and Bay have returned. Thomas has gathered a demolition crew to level the school. Could Olivia exist without her school? 

Clues from a strange artwork created by Alecsi point to a village in a valley. Marko’s devices refer to an altruistic organization in a similar shaped valley. Olivia feels close to finding Alecsi. 

Gretchen and Olivia visit the campus. The campus is infused with the energy of the Imposter. A house in the mountains gleam with Alecsi’s aura. The members of the organization too are infused with the Imposter and Alecsi. They detain Gretchen in the house. Gretchen and Olivia discover that the Imposter herself is a tupil, one who was created by Alecsi himself. Alecsi stole the keepsakes to fuel this altruistic organization: Marko’s herbs were used to bolster Elsie and the organization’s abilities; Prophesies from the cursed items told where help was needed; The Imposter used the prophesies to guide the psychic energy. Alecsi provided the reality-ability energy by bathing in acid within Olivia’s silver bowl. His channeled agony powers the Imposter in twisting reality and thwarting the prophesies. 

Alecsi had been working with Thomas to dissuade Olivia from her quest. Olivia is devastated by Alecsi’s betrayal. Alecsi needs the prophetic spirits to continue his work. He needs the keepsakes at the school as well. The Imposter uses his energy to twist reality and capture Gretchen. 

Gretchen finds herself dismembered but still alive, a living shrine to the prophets. Gretchen provokes Olivia to action. Olivia realizes she too can control Alecsi’s wild energy. She brings Gretchen back to the School safe and whole. The demolition crew is readying their destruction. Olivia frightens them away. 

Betrayed, challenged, Olivia realizes she is more powerful than she has allowed herself to be. She realizes the Imposter’s weakness and defeats it. His creation defeated, Alecsi arrives at the school to get the keepsakes and the cursed spirits. Olivia twists reality to place the cursed spirits into Alecsi’s body.  

Thomas’ soul is released to reincarnate. Bay flees, terrified. 

Sometime later, Olivia restores her body. She and Gretchen entice a small-town tycoon to his doom. They provide a disturbingly organic jewelry to an aspiring businesswoman. Another chapter of Olivia’s life begins. 

END





A Horror Writing Idea Beyond My Reach

21 09 2022

Since I first read the article in 2017, I have been fascinated by YouTube marketing psychotic content to toddlers.

Did you read this article?

Something Is Wrong On The Internet by James Briddle

Or this more recent one from The Guardian?

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2022/sep/13/unboxing-bad-baby-evil-santa-youtube-swamped-creepy-kids-content

It talks about a bad thing brewing at Google. That bad thing would make a cool story idea.

It has body horror with the increasingly disturbing, dismembered videos. It has the occult via algorithms invoking a primal force. It creates a new mythos, one where Cognition is a destructive force.

I’ll explain how I see it. It is said that capitalism taps into the fundamental human drive toward survival (simplistic, but bear with me). It is said that babies see the world most clearly, without civilizing preconceptions. YouTube is letting these two primal qualities dialogue on a planet-wide scale with the merest filter of cartoons.

What zeitgeist will result? The adult world is already dealing with Identity becoming more fluid. Is some evolutionary force now easing us into swappable heads, swappable body parts, Frozen Elsa with chicken feet, Spiderman with a brain-belly? No matter the algorithm YouTube came up with, they had to fall back to creating “war rooms” to control increasingly disturbing videos.

One perspective would ask: is this content disturbed, or are we learning that post-humanism is a natural impulse? If there is an evolutionary goal, is our goal to surpass the flesh?

A spiritual perspective would remind that ads for “The Exorcist” often accompanied these videos.

My thoughts are half-baked. But there seems the germ of an idea that *by some design*, YouTube is invoking Something lurking beyond Consciousness. This Something is as eternal and fundamental as gravity, and it works to bring humanity back to a primordial precognizance. The results would look pretty damn cool. We would watch it for hours. Lose track of time. Forget to eat.

I want to make it a short story! Dangblastfurgozzlenamchazzlegumit!

Maybe from the perspective one of the content producers. They’d get a printout every morning from their computer, an AI which assembles a script based on scraping the most recent YT search algorithms. They would be puzzled, then amused, then be appalled at the script demands. But bills gotta be paid.

I'm noticing improvements. But there has been a physical cost.




Bastards Sell Better Than Villains and Anti-Heroes, and Here’s Why

2 09 2022

There are many articles about the differences between villains and anti-heroes.

Villains are morally worse than their circumstances. They have a few redeeming features, but their cruelties are not motivated by them. In AD&D Forgotten Realms, Zushaxx is a ruthless monster crime boss whose only love is his pet goldfish. While this adoration is comical, it does not define why the monster leads a gang of cut-throats. Zushaxx is a comic villain.

Hannibal Lector is refined, discerning, and formal; seemingly quite heroic. He does kill and eat people, sure, but he only does that to the rude and corrupt. We identify with disliking rude people, and we feel we are better than the corrupt. Because he directs his cruelties toward people who are villainous, this makes Hannibal an Anti-hero.

However! What if we were to see the effects of Hanibal’s cruelties? What if we were to read about the grieving, kindly mother of Frederick Chilton? What if we had two pages of Starling slipping in the gory leftovers of Benjamin Raspail? Could Hannibal still be “heroic”? Yes, as long as the social merit of that cruelty outweighed the amount of disgust. Chilton would have to be exposed as torturing his patients, or Raspail as a murderer. There is a reason Mason Berger had to be a child rapist. Anything less and we wouldn’t tolerate his spectacular disfigurement or his demise.

Is there a recurring character who is an Anti-hero? Highsmith’s character Tom Ripley reduces the stakes to fraud, theft, and an occasional murder, but his victims are always insipid, self-indulgent, or criminals themselves. Ripley would be a Bastard if he wasn’t so pro-active.

Fafherd and the Grey Mouser are Bastards. James Bond and Melissandra are Bastards. They obey questionable forces in hopes of creating a better world that never seems to arrive. They have no ideals beyond keeping the status quo in place while containing the damage. Between missions, they indulge in petty exploits of crime and flesh.

Again, do we see the casualties? The only damage ever presented is to the Bastard themselves. Bastards may be alcoholic. They may be lonely. Isolated and yearning for a dead love. But give them a dog or a best friend, a ship or a chosen family, and our sympathies are regained.

Name a series in any medium and it is led by a bastard. Nearly every character in popular culture called “a Hero” is actually short-sighted, reactive, and lacking an ethos. The most popular conflict nowadays seems to be the protagonist coming to terms with being a bastard. And why not? Maintaining the status quo keeps the series going.





Reading the Bible. Here Are Some Horror Prompts.

1 09 2022

There are other gods. A lot of other gods. Did G-d make them or is there a divine ecology of which G-d is but one animal? Where there is ecology, there are parasites and brood parasites.

What would the Dark Goatee Wearing Version of the prophets be? Dark Noah might still be submerged in the Under-Arc, surfacing to eject cryptids onto land.

Which personage from the Bible could be cursed to roam the Earth for eternity? Jehu could be driving over feminists even now.

What if G-d came down to clarify The Word and He went really, really into the unexpected? What direction would you take it?

What happened to the fiery sword which faced all sides?

What happened to The Ear cut off by Simon Peter? If you cut off your own ear and stitch The Ear in its place, you can hear what?

What of the other tales of Jesus mentioned at the end of John?





Fungus and Mushroom Monsters Are Peaking, But This Whole Thread Is Pretty Icky

22 08 2022




Three Types of Inspiration and Which Ones I Avoid

7 08 2022
  1. Axe-Grinding: Something is rubbing my chaps or grinding my gears or generally making me angry. The nature of romance. That horrid politician. The state of society. Delusions of those who disagree with me. The problem with Axe-Grinding is that I never enjoy writing about things I hate. I rush through the writing and create characters without depth and a dissatisfying ending. There are writers who can Axe-Grind, and I wonder at their approach. Cory Doctorow writes about disagreeable politics and technology and he gets his points across. Gretchen Felker-Martin wrote about people who want her dead and somehow didn’t make it a screed. Dunno how they do it. When I’m writing something and I think, “Yeah! That’ll show those bastards!” I go have a nice lay-down.
  2. Inspired by Life/Catharsis: I realize things about my life, you know? Decades pass and disparate memories click together into a realization. Or new experiences cast a moment in a new light. Or a direct experience can be made into a character arc, if I tweak it a little. Editors have liked these stories, but writing them weighs on me. Writing is an escape from my unending self-scrutiny. I write about my personal life now only once in a while.
  3. The Image: An image strikes. An image clean of politics or regret. As I’ve noted in previous posts, my turn of mind ranges from absurdity to horror. A mummified Victorian meditating. An imp birthing from an eye socket. A sentient ribcage jumping along a suburban sidewalk. Yeah, they disturb me too. But I know by exploring an idea unrelated to my beliefs, that my 1) axe-grinding and 2) catharsis will release in a way relevant to whatever story emerges. Keep in mind: I subject what images and feeling that appear to scrutiny, maybe unreasonable, that they not remind me of anything other media. Some images do not work and I’ve learned to avoid or compartmentalize them they feel inspired by the surrealism I like to read sometimes.

Now I’m trying to use writing prompts so I can increase output. Using prompts feels odd. Prompts don’t resonate as deeply. Prompt writing seems more analytical, as I am using a different part of my brain. I’m concerned that I’ll lose whatever “ME” is in the writing, the “ME” that got past stories published.

In a related subject: there are respected authors who write about their religion or politics. One guy had deep conflicts with his deeply Catholic father, then had a near-death experience, and now expounds from an Opus Dei pre-Vatican II perspective. One woman is a loving parent and wife, and she knows she has depression and OCD, yet has become a Truther about Every Possible Subject.

How can one live without the awareness of trauma affecting outlook? How can they allow themselves to speak on deeply loaded subjects and reinforce delusions in others?

This is why I prefer writing from an Image. This forces me to create well-rounded characters in conflicts removed from Real Issues, while allowing for emotional exploration.

Continuing exploration in magick. Between this and self-hypnosis, I’ve been getting more comfortable in expressing myself.







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