Nixie had decided definitely on the young goth boy standing in the shadows at
the end of the bar, partly because of the irritation she felt for his showy and
pretentious imitation of her kind of which he clearly knew nothing.
Nixie had decided grimly upon the young goth boy standing at the end of the
bar, in shadow, partly out of insulted rage at his ignorant imitation of her
kind of which he clearly knew nothing.
The young goth boy at the end of the bar, all in black caught Nixie’s eye ,
partly out of a predatory rage at the imitation of her kind.
Maybe. I dunno.
Nixie had decided on the young goth boy at the end of the bar, drawn by his
pretentious imitation of her kind.
I’m pastiching this sentence by F Scott Fitzgerald (“This Side of Paradise”)
that goes “Amory had decided definitely on Princeton, even though he would be
the only boy entering from St Regis.” I got this from a book I’m studying called
“Copy and Compose”, which is an old out-of-print manual of rhetoric focusing on
the variations of sentence structure and their aesthetic effects. For a narrative writer, this is the equivalent of sitting in your room practicing your
scales. I’ve been studying this book to train my ear for sound and
language. In case you’re wondering the Fitzgerald sentence is an example of
“The Complex Sentence/Afterthought With Subordinator and Punctuation”. Yes sir,
that’s just what it is too. No doubt about it. The sound of words is important to me. It should be to you. Action for instance:
Grimacing menacingly Nixie took the Bible in her right hand, reached back and threw it through the window which broke with a crash.
How about this instead:
She seized the heavy Bible on the dressing stand and shook it at
the sun defiantly – “Ich sehe Dich
in leuchtender Sonne – “
A thick hot odor. Smoke.
und komme zu Dir!”
The Bible smashed through the window. Glass and wood exploded in
the cold gust of clear morning air. The
bare blaze of the sun caught her.
Much better I think, Strong verbs without many adverbs. Short punchy sentences. One syllable words that go bam-bam-bam. I don’t tell anything about her throwing the Bible at the window glass. The window explodes and your imagination fills in the blanks. That gives it more emotional power because it belongs to you when you fill in the blanks.
I love words and sentences and paragraphs. This is my medicine for melancholy.
Of all the young men in black, standing in and out of shadows, Nixie chose the
young goth boy at the end of the bar, exactly because he was trying so
idealistically in his way to imitate her kind, of which he was clearly
Now it’s getting so far off the rails.
Nixie’s discerning eye went straight to the young man in the shadows at the end
of the bar, pretending to be a vampire. Of all the people she might choose, his
disappointment in the last instant of his life in discovering the drab reality
of his fantasy, finding in the end only a plain looking girl in simple clothes
bending over him; his disillusionment, if not revelation, would be delicious.
I dunno. You can get pretty tangled up with this stuff.
Am I wrong – or is this a distinctly male way of writing? Women writing romance tend to be more flowery and descriptive and men tend to be more sparse. Am I wrong on this?
I just want to write well. There will always be the
challenge and beauty of language, and the struggle to master language like a
musician mastering his instrument. There’s so much out there I want to learn. If God or genetics gave you something you can do well, why
wouldn’t you do it?
When I’ve got something to write, I write. The rest of the time I’m learning to
write. Being a blogger here and on Oh Get a Grip (since 2009!) is an interesting opportunity for me because it forces me to write on demand.
I have to come up with something two Wednesdays a month.
Each Wednesday is on a predetermined theme.
Think about that. If you have a writer’s group you should try this. A schedule. A theme. On OGG whenever possible I try to write a short story as my blog piece. Most of the time I cough up some kind of hairball, but some of them have, with a little polishing, been published. A few of them are not bad at all. Writing to a schedule makes you show up at the keyboard. Writing to a theme is how my old literary heroes, the pulp fiction writers (I consider myself a modern pulp fiction writer) earned a living more or less writing for pulps like “Weird Tales”, “Argosy” and “Black Mask”.
Robert Frost once described writing free verse as “playing tennis without the net”. Most people like playing tennis without a net and they write free verse and dislike verse forms. But writing within boundaries of form or theme, playing with the net up, is like doing a cross word puzzle, it forces you to think a certain way and there is a great satisfaction when you pull it off.
So how do you come with a story idea on demand? I use a method I learned from my interest in Kaballah and tarot cards
I’m not convinced that tarot cards represent anything synchronistic or magical, I think they represent a combining of random elements. But, we have evolved in such a way that we instinctively make order out of randomness. Our unconscious mind looks for patterns, Tarot cards by design have strong but undefined imagery that when presented the unconscious makes order of. You draw cards, you look at them, feel the movement of intuition and the cards begin to tell you a story. This is that inner part of the mind working for you.
Here’s how I wrote a story called “Miss Mercy” for the Oh Get a Grip blog on the week
when the theme was “food and sex”. This story was later published by Bryant Literary Review and Mammoth’s Quick And Dirty (not bad for a blog post).
where the story came from. Real world, I have no experiences with food and sex.
Food and my pathetic sex life have simply never crossed paths. So using only
what is available, I just don’t have anything to say on that subject, but
Wednesday is coming. (Schedule! Theme!)
What to do?
I had been reading an anthology called “Alien
Sex” and there was a short story called “Oral” by Richard Christian Matheson,
son of Richard Matheson, (one of my literary heroes and influences). “Oral”
basically gives a first person, present point of view describing a person
drinking a glass of water in tremendous detail. That’s it. But it gave me an idea for an interesting
experiment, a creative challenge, to tell a story of physical sensations
completely in dialogue without narration. I had never read a story like this,
and it seemed like a fun challenge. So I tried my best. The title came from
an article about groupies written by Frank Zappa a long time ago. One of the
groupies he knew back in the day was a girl the guys called “Miss Mercy”, god knows why. I stumbled into these little
tarot cards in my environment, picked them up and arranged them into something.
So let’s go back to pastiche and see how the random elements could maybe work with that.
When I’m in practicing mode, I consult a book on writing practice called “A
Writers Book of Days” by Judith Reeves. It gives you these little themes or
phrases, one for each day of the year and you just jump off of the phrase and
go with it. This is also good discipline, because it forces you to learn
flexibility. Like compositional Yoga poses. You can liken it to being a musician in a
band that jams a lot, and the lead guy creates this riff and then tosses it to
you and you play your solo off it.
Flipping through to today’s date, I find today’s topic for practice is the
phrase “avenues of escape”. So that’s tarot card number two, the first tarot
card being the pastiche riff on F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Let’s mess with it.
So, Fitzgerald’s line is “Amory had decided definitely on Princeton, even
though he would be the only boy entering from St Regis.” That plus
“avenues of escape”.
Nixie had decided on the young Goth man standing at the bar, because
he was self consciously dressed in imitation of a vampire. She had almost never met a vampire other than herself, and was sure any practical killer would never advertise his condition any more than a wolf would advertise itself among a flock of sleeping sheep.
Someone had left a half finished bottle of Becks on a table. She picked it up
and padded up silently behind the Goth boy. She set the bottle down with a
sharp rap on the wood of the bar top. He turned at the sound and she caught his eye. “I’ve been watching you,” she said. “So I’m
thinking, you know, why do you dress so dark and sad like this? Are you
Hamlet? Are you sad?”
“Where‘re you from?” said the Goth boy.
She noticed, with a small wave of disgust, he had rouged his lips bright
scarlet and darkened his eyes with kohl. “Bavaria.”
“That’s where Hitler’s from, right?”
Her eyes flashed. “No. It is not right.” She smiled, showing teeth. “So then,
why do you dress like that? Do you think you look very interesting that way?”
“You must think I look interesting.”
“Jah, you know, I think you’re the only interesting man here. So why do you
hide your beauty?”
“Because I love death.”
“Oh. So. That’s it, then. You love death. Does death love you?”
“Why do you love death? Please tell me.”
“Because this world is ugly. I want to escape from it. I think death is where
peace and beauty lie. The real world lies beyond. We’ll escape from this world
into pure freedom of spirit.”
“So with death, we can escape and fly away,” she gestured, waggling her
fingertips, “from this wicked, wicked world.”
She pretended to take a swig of beer and set the bottle down. She leaned in
close, covering the distance between them and reached under the crotch of his
black silk dress pants. She caressed him there, felt him swell, saw his eyes
become hard. She nodded her head towards the back door. “Come escape with me. I’ll show you something beautiful. Something you have never seen.
Come.” She stepped away, and waited. The man took a step towards her. “Let’s
get out of this place.. Come with me, because I’m the goddess of fate.” She held open the back door
and the young man stepped through into the dark, deserted parking lot.
And so it goes. Found stuff.
Of all the stupid fucks sitting at laptops in the Starbucks, Nixie choose the
oldish man with the beard because he smelled funny and walked funny and looked
lonesome and needy and could be lured outside to an easy kill, and she didn’t
feel like working that hard tonight anyway. She padded quietly up behind him
She padded quietly up
She padded up
She padded up quietly
She padded up quietly behind him and slapped him soundly upside the head. “So what it is you’re writing now, shiesekopf, why are you still doing this? No one will read it.”
“Because ‘I love death’?”
“Oh shut up.”