Short Story, looking for feedback

Hey everyone,

 

This is a short story I wrote over the weekend. It's still very rough, so please excuse misspellings or tense disagreements. 

 

I've been working on developing the lead character in a novel, and in the first draft this character's addiction (a central part of the plot) come off as forced/false. So I've read some stories about/featuring addicts, and have been working on some short stories in that theme. This is one such attempt.

 

(Also, if anyone has suggestions about more reading that may help with this character development, I'd be open to suggestions)

 

'Slice away the boring and the plain. Extract the essence of cool, the subtle overtones of yes, and leave him with nothing to hide, nothing to hold back the extreme emphasis on provocative success. Bam! It hits home, like it always does.

Remember, it’s all relative, it’s all a matter of time, and perspective. Take a hit, take a drag, roll another, sit tight, wait for the right moment, the right perspective, get it right, not hesitate. But don’t hurry, don’t bustle. Sensation, playing with my ability to differentiate reality from the cruel dreams of another man. I wake from it to the sound of screeching metal, to inevitability.

A subway car rattles to a stop at the platform. The air stirs behind it, dragging stale aromas of grotesque humanity to my senses.

Here comes the world. It’s waiting, doors part, slide away from each other with a hiss. Then a clank. Mind the gap. Off they come, at a run, swift and purposeful, all better things to be doing. Mind the gap.

The sea of people parts, washes over me in one direction, shifting the air again, now the burnt smells of sourdough and old coffee—and feet, so many feet. Then the tide turns, and the people pour backwards. Not the same people, of course not, but people still. Into the beast. Mind the gap. In they go, wrenching the feet smell with them. They can have it.

The car whistles out of the station. Less than a minute, and the world has gone through a complete transition, a global upheaval. An all new world: new people, new smells, new feet. Mind the gap. They always do. Walking toward me, from amidst the flow of humanity, is a familiar face.

Markson—Jamal Winston Markson—is a tall, muscled Brazilian-Jamaican with a crew cut and a tattoo of a wolf on his left arm. He is always careful to wear a shirt that shows his tattoo, and while he has told me he has many tattoos on his body, the wolf is the only one I’ve ever seen.

When I met Markson, years ago, a lifetime ago really, he had a wild head of dreadlocked hair and a slight potbelly. He sold the best dope, and always threw in a little tea to build his customer base. Smart man, have to respect that ingenuity. He told me once, not so long ago, that I’m the only customer left from when he came to the City. “Last of the firsts,” he said. Last of the firsts. That’s how I like to think of myself.

He walks with a false swagger. False not because he’s acting macho or because his ego exceeds him (both of which are true) but false because Markson is more than a tough guy. He’s smart, well read, Princeton graduate (believe that shit? I didn’t at first), had a good paying job in Phoenix, years ago, back in a former life. Then he fell in with a crowd. You know how it goes.

I told him once, when he offered to buy me a beer and we chatted for awhile, I told him, “you didn’t mind the gap.” He liked that. Got it. Understood the reference. Markson was a quick study. I had to admire that.

We’d sat on wobbly stools at O’Brien’s Pub, round the corner from the subway stop, drinking lukewarm Pabst and shooting the shit. Markson bought me three rounds before I spilled—I’m not much of a drinker—and insisted on buying us each a couple fingers of the top shelf. It smelled of fire and oak shavings, like the outside on a fall day. It tasted like shit, but gave old Markson a laugh. Once he knew we were both something else—chameleons, impostors, liars—he respected me.

And I stuck around, which cemented us.

Today, just after the sea change, as the crowds parted and realigned themselves to await the next train, Markson swaggered up, a tie-died Grateful Dead shirt on and a thick book under his arm. I was busy sorting out the universe, parsing the cool from the mundane, adding up infinity with my left hand. He sat beside me, leg poking out, challenging the plebes to step around him. I can see why he never has trouble with the ladies.

“’Sup Porter?”

“Puttin’ it together man, just adding it all up, you know?”

Good old Markson, he didn’t know and wasn’t going to pretend he did. “I have no clue my man,” he said, “not a fucking clue. But you keep on doing your thing Porter, you know best.”

The book, a worn and battered copy of Paradise Lost, with an Italian translation and extensive footnotes, sat on the bench between us. Markson gave it a little nudge with his elbow.

The train arrived, the tides came, the tides went. The smells came and went with them. I found a hint of hotdog (with relish and ketchup?) wafting along with the normal stink of all those people. Markson gave the book another nudge.

“What now?”

He didn’t answer with any words. Didn’t need to. He just gave me the look, eight miles long, a lifetime wide, and holed up in a corner room with the lights off and a loaded shotgun on his lap. It was time.

“Oh, Tuesday already is it?”

He nodded.

“Well then,” I said, “I suppose it’s time.”

“I suppose it is,” he said.

Markson unfurled a copy of the Times (where the hell did that come from? Must have missed it while I was contemplating those tired curls of misty (smoke?) that clamber from between the tracks) and leaned  back. Not unfriendly, but he was giving me space. I knew what time it was.

I dug into my coat pocket, sifting around, digging for gold, looking down to the bottom for that important piece. The good old green, the slips of paper that propel the world. And I come up empty—a bronze key on a ring, an ATM card, and a Metro card. No money.

“Ha,” I said, “shit.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah. You know, the money man, I forgot to stop in and see him. You know, right? I was distracted. Got a lot on the mind today.”

“You said the same last week,” Markson said, displeased. Not mad, not angry, not pissed, but not pleased. “Ain’t running no charity Porter.”

“I know man, I know. I’m good for it, you know me, right?”

"Shit, man I'm sure you are, but still, I can't be riding you every week."

Of course he's right. Sublime, precise like a surgeon. Good old Markson. Last of

first and all. I can't disappoint him, not even possible. No way. Gotta do right by him.

"I hear, really. I'll go see the man today, get this right between us. You know me."

Markson, eyes scanning the paper like a high powered piece of machinery, dipped the slightest nod, just let me know it’s cool, like I needed to be told, and pushed the book gently with his hip. I scooped the book up, leaned back and leaved into a few pages.

Somebody, a guy I maybe had some association with, in a previous life, he remembers reading this book one time. And he remembers liking it. The words didn’t always make sense, if I’m to understand ancient history with some miniscule grain of hip, new age blaise (sometimes I think that I think like an asshole), it’s a story about good and evil. But it seems too complex for that.

 

Comments

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    I pull through pages, digging, searching, getting there. Ah! Finally, deep in the book, is the cut away. A groove cut into the page, two fingers wide and the length of a stick of butter. Inside the valley, occupying that secret space that only me and Markson know about, is a crinkling mess of plastic.

    Palm over the valley, God forming the land--‘here a valley, here a plain, here a river’--I’m in control now. Scrunching eyes, peeling away the layers, always digging, always revealing. I slip the bags, palm down, easy and graceful in motion, into my pocket. Flip the pages, stroke my beard, close the book. Back on the bench, gentle nudge toward Markson.

    Five more minutes slip by. Or maybe only four. I don’t count them anymore, no sense, time being a broken rubber band, all stretch beyond any usefulness and wrung out like a worn sponge. No need to count the minutes, when I know exactly how long it is. The train comes, uptown bound, doors part with a gasp. Mind the gap. People come, tidal in, people go, tidal out. It occurs to me that this, too, may be a gravitational manifestation of the moon’s robust omnipotence. Which is so stupid and funny I can’t stifle a laugh.

    Markson sighs beside me, folds hi paper, and looks out across the crowd. “Bunch of twits, aren’t they?”

    “You know it man, such twits.”

    “Work-a-day schmucks, 9 to 5 grinders, all for what?”

    I shrug. The bags in my pocket weigh a ton. I want to unload them, get the ride started, crank the roller-coaster up to the top and plunge into the beautiful abyss. “House in the suburbs, couple ugly kids, an iPad, cheap wine. That seems to be why most of ‘em do it.”

    “Fuckin’ stupid.”

    “Pretty much.”

    Markson stands, like a pro athlete rising from the bench, heralding his intention to take the floor, to do his thing, to make all the other people out there seem inferior. Those in our near vicinity take notice, shrink from his grandeur. It’s really impressive to watch. “Next week Markson, I want my bones or it’s no dice for you, we clear?”

    “Course man, of course. Think of it as an unavoidable inevitability. That money, it’s already yours, it just don’t know it yet, right?”

    “Yeah, something like that.”

    Markson is a good guy, and a smart one at that. But he doesn’t quite have the vision.  The forest and the trees, he can identify and separate, but he doesn’t see the things creeping behind the trees, or lurking in them, doesn’t appreciate the before and the after of the thing he sees. It’s all just all it is for him. Last of the firsts, but it’s always been that way. Old Markson just don’t realize it.

    I teeter along the subway platform, climb the steps toward the light, drifting on gusts of perpetual grace. I’m not even thinking right now, you have to understand that. My mind is a busy place--think Wall Street before the bell on a day when Apple and Amazon just announced a merger, wired on an IV drip of espresso and a horny ape’s adrenaline. It’s banging around, always going, always on the job. It doesn’t even have the time to stop and make conscious sense of my feet, my body’s forward motion. Them feet, they had better know where they’re going, cause the rest has no intention of helping decide.

    Luckily, my feet do know where they are going. No Shit, they have it sorted out, right as rain. I peel off at the street, up 32nd, around the corner by the florist, past the shutdown, boarded up theater and the take a sharp right into the alley next to the kitchen supply place. People flow all around, kilowatts of human electricity just pulsing around me, push, shove, go, stop, lean, bounce, move, stop--it’s like a song I don’t know the words to.

    I get into the alley and hop the low fence, slink past the dumpster. Something rattles within, a hungry person or a hungry rat, if one can be bothered to consider that there might be a difference. The alley is hot, the midday sun beaming down into, lighting my way. One downside of leaving time behind, I never know what time of day it is.

    Beyond the dumpster, the alley narrows. The theater has a back entrance, which did open onto a parking lot. Back in the day, way back when I was someone else and time was still important, the parking lot was large and allowed the different musical acts to park their buses and arrange their gear. Now, the lot is gone, a Whole Foods took it over, tore up the dividers and curbs, dug out the pavement, laid foundation, and put up a monument to consumer ignorance. They have a loading dock now, but it’s just a narrow run for the truck to pull into, and back up to the building.

    The narrow bit, the alley, it still leads to the back door of the theater though. They could build right up to the old place, and I’ll be damned, they couldn’t buy the place either. And the door, it had to stay accessible--fire regulations, if you do the math it really makes sense.

    I lift the latch and pop the door open. It’s not locked, but it sticks really tight, so a casual passerby might assume it is locked up. It’s not, I assure you. Come on in, too, if you happen by, all are welcome!

    The hallway careens long and dark. No lights though, don’t need them in here. I walk the steps. I imagine I counted once, but no need any more. The last room on the right, biggest dressing room. This on is locked, with a small chain and padlock. I keep the key on a leather cord around my neck. Inside, I crack open the high window, letting in some of the resplendent alleyway light and air. A bird chirps somewhere not to far off. What a lovely sound.

    But I don’t have time for that nonsense. Business at hand, things to know, things to consider. A problem needs working out, and I’m the only one going to be doing, goddam right. I empty my pockets onto the table, take stock of the situation. I don’t like lists, not a fan of the normality it reminds me of. People make lists--groceries, to-do’s, normal things. In this, I will lower myself, be normal, as it makes everything flow better.

    And that’s what I’m about right now: flow. Find it, chase it, ride it to the end of the line, hope off (mind the gap) and wait for the next ride.

    My list is simple, my list is thorough. I lay my implements out before me, a ragged cloth over a scarred desk. A soft leather pouch (cliche) unfurled to reveal my tools. The list is in my head, and I pace it off, tick each mental box, and everything is accounted for. It is good.

    I start with the smoke, to give a mood to my proceedings. It’s raw and harsh, but pleasantly languid. The air immediately grows stale. I light a couple of candles from the aromatherapy store on 7th Ave. Everything in the room sucks in a hazy tint, bluish gloom with a wisp of brackish grey for good measure.

    Next it’s the pharmaceuticals. Not my favorite method, but you can’t argue with good science. No sir. Two pills: one long and blue, the other a perfect circle, dull green. Down the hatch. Wish I had some water. Was stupid not to have bought a bottle. But that too would require a trip to see the money man, and I don’t have time for that today.

    I’m starting to get the feeling I’m after, though it’s not quite there yet. I’m painting a masterpiece, and thus far I’ve only got a passable landscape. Brush strokes, it’s really all it takes. Swipe the canvas just so, twirl and dollop. The faulty idea of me ‘the artist’ plays havoc with the high and puts me right into a tailspin. No mind though, I’ve got a pack of cigarettes, and I smoke one of those quickly, while stomping back and forth in the long room.

    A decade ago, some rock star sat here and told a patient, unobtrusive house manager that the club was a disaster. That it would never last. Bad location, no parking, low wages for the acts, overpriced beer, minimal food, crap sound systems. Of course, the rock star isn’t listing these faults in a politely critical way. He’s waving an empty bottle of bourbon around, ranting and spitting.

    That poor house manager, he did the smart thing--he told the owner to get out. Sell that dump, unload the property for maximum value. Cash in.

    Worked out pretty well, I’d say. Now this whole place is mine, a kingdom apart. A different world I get to inhabit without having to worry about anyone finding me. The city condemned the place, the vagrants haven’t found a way in yet, and the door is close enough to the real world that most won’t even get near to it. I’m balanced, hiding in this in between place.

    All things are excluded here. Everything on the outside, the world barriered away from this enclave. I’m in an oasis, marooned in a desert of sadness and mediocrity, alone and ready to find an answer.

    I’ve burned some my energy pacing, and I can feel the mellow inching back along my spine. It tingles, not a bad sense. I roll a joint and smoke that, inhaling and puffing out quickly. I find my flask suck in a long mouthful of warm, bitter brandy. Gross stuff, but the subtlest application of alcohol can induce the effect I’m after sometimes.

    The next part is where I’m at. Where all the earthly cool and existential bullshit coalesce. I peak the roller coaster, can see the plummet ahead, and cannot stop. If I wanted to. Can’t do it now. It’s too far gone. I unroll the baggy and parse out the little crystals inside. I push them around on the surface of the desk, positioning them into a line of soldiers, ready to face the enemy at their gates.

    The first rank--footmen, pawns--are ready for action. I press them into the glass end and light the fire. Everything crackles, like running over fallen leaves on a cool September night, a light breeze against my brow, the waning light diffuse. It hits me like a brick. Bam! Action! Roller coaster down the hill, power switches on, all systems are go.

    Markson, he’s alright. Knows his stuff. Smart man. I appreciate his skills. His connections. If I’m ever going to find an answer inside my own head, it’s going to be by shining the bright light of Mr. Markson’s beautiful substances. I crackle another hit into my lungs, hold it close, loving it, savoring our time together. The room whirlwinds, the lights flicker in my head. It’s a good run, the car is moving faster now, my hands outstretched overhead. I might get there this time, maybe enlightenment is around the corner (or the next or the next).

    I suck down the rest of the brandy and breath fire into the stale air. A window would help. I pry it open, just an inch, that’s all it will go. Let some of the smoke out, let some of the dank in. It’s good, makes sense to have some of the outside in, being here, between places, nowhere and everywhere, outside and inside, undone and unbound.

    Everything around me is lights and action, I’ve left the old behind, people and places and things no longer hold any meaning, because I am meaning, I am it all. It’s a beautiful feeling, like basking in the immortal lights of heaven, like the sweetest caress of a lover. I take it all in, sitting on the floor now, sweating and thinking. It’s close, I know it’s close. Quickly, find the notebook, find the pen. Make sense of it, while the clarity is on me. Another hit, another cigarette, one more blue bill to keep focused, one more hit to even it all out.

    There! I have it, so close, so clear. It all makes perfect sense! I am a fool for not having seen it sooner! How could I be such a fool? I write, frantic, scrawling words along the page. It need not be tidy, I can make sense of it all later, tomorrow, with a cup of coffee and a bagel, I’ll sit outside at some hipster coffee shop, calm and in command, with the answer right in front of me. It’s all so beautiful and perfect, I start to cry.

    When I wake up, it’s grown dark. My head hurts, dull and low. I need water. I stagger out, down the street, now a shadow world of quietly urgent people. The 7/11 blinks, a meca in the night, water and food in abundance. I go in and set about gathering chips and candy bars, water and Tylenol. Then I remember the cash situation.

    “Hold on to these?” I ask the teenage clerk. “I have to go have a chat with the money-man outside.”

    The boy doesn’t bat an eye. “Sure,” he says, his attention enthralled by a slim machine in his hands.

    Mr. ATM is kind enough to spit out ample funds, and I stow the cash card back in my pockets, deep down where it’ll be safe. I gather my purchases and walk home, my body and my head thrumming to a loud song I’d rather take down a few decibels.

    The apartment is dark and smells. I probably need to change the cat’s litter box. I leave the junk food on the counter, take a bottle of water, and drink it down, along with a handful of the headache be-gones. I smoke a joint and find a beer in the fridge, to calm me down, help get the brain back into working order. I need to go over the notes, make sense of the mess. The sun is starting to inch up over the rooftops. It’s early morning. I don’t know what time. I threw away all my clocks back before I knew what time it was.

    I grab a shower and change the litter box, take some trash downstairs and circle the building twice, pretending that some fresh air and exercise will do me good. I smoke cigarettes endless while walking. To spite the asshole part of me that thinks some exercise and fresh air will do me good.

    Formalities out of the way, I brew coffee and sort out my remaining implements, then clean them and tuck everything away into the special place I keep those things. Last, finally, first, I take the notebook and find the newest page. I sit and stare at it. The meaning is in there; the meaning to everything, the answers I so desperately need. It’s there!

    But I can’t make heads or tails of it. Gibberish, I’ve written five notebook pages of gibberish. I close the pages and lay on my bed. I’ve gone out in search again, and failed, again. It’s in there, it wants out, it needs to be said, needs to be found. But I can’t do it, and all the powerful drugs in the world seem unable to assist me. But I’m not one to quit. Oh hell no. There’s a question needs answering, and most likely an answer in search of an even better question. I’ll find the elusive bastards.

    It’s too early to call Markson, so I finish my coffee and consider the day. Maybe I’ll go to the subway and watch the tides come and go. It’s a good idea. I have his money, I’ll stop and get some more, then I’ll call him, try again tonight. No down time, no real time. I can do it. I’ll get there.'

     

     

    All criticism is welcome, thanks for reading!

  • Gosh, that's a lot to read. I will leave that to someone with more time.  Smiley Happy

  • Well, it has a beat, if you'll pardon a pun. It's timeless, but sixties-ishness spills out of it. Stream of consciousness, or perhaps of unconsciousness, or perhaps just a stream of thought, in the great river of all minds...

     

    Right. So a couple of things. There are one or two misplaced commas, none important enough to specifically flag; though you might want to read it over looking for them. Other than that -- mind the gap is a good theme... several layers, like an onion. But I got a New York feel from this; It was a subway, and not a tube, and there was the slightly supercilious reference to the scent of fast food, which would only be relevant on this side of the pond. Mind the Gap, an I err not, belongs on that side of the water, where the train beneath the city is a tube.

     

    So there's a point to consider. But if Markson and the man are from the other side, or have been there, then the theme will work. The stream of consciousness line of thought is good. It gives a path for the "psychic dream" that  you communicate to the reader. It's a dated style, but it could work.

     

    Although defacing Milton to stash drugs is a crime against humanity.



  • .     Last, finally, first, I take the notebook and find the newest page. I sit and stare at it. The meaning is in there; the meaning to everything, the answers I so desperately need. It’s there!

          But I can’t make heads or tails of it. Gibberish, I’ve written five notebook pages of gibberish. I close the pages and lay on my bed. I’ve gone out in search again, and failed, again. It’s in there, it wants out, it needs to be said, needs to be found. But I can’t do it, and all the powerful drugs in the world seem unable to assist me. But I’m not one to quit. Oh hell no. There’s a question needs answering, and most likely an answer in search of an even better question. I’ll find the elusive bastards

    _________________________________________________________________________

     

    And herein is the crux. The answer that needs questioning; the question that only we can answer. And to pursue those answers in the wrong way can destroy them, or at least our ability to find them.

     

    Writers do feel like this. The good ones find a way to relax the mind, and to search from the corners of their eyes.


  • Skoob_Ym wrote:

    Well, it has a beat, if you'll pardon a pun. It's timeless, but sixties-ishness spills out of it. Stream of consciousness, or perhaps of unconsciousness, or perhaps just a stream of thought, in the great river of all minds...

     

    Right. So a couple of things. There are one or two misplaced commas, none important enough to specifically flag; though you might want to read it over looking for them. Other than that -- mind the gap is a good theme... several layers, like an onion. But I got a New York feel from this; It was a subway, and not a tube, and there was the slightly supercilious reference to the scent of fast food, which would only be relevant on this side of the pond. Mind the Gap, an I err not, belongs on that side of the water, where the train beneath the city is a tube.

     

    So there's a point to consider. But if Markson and the man are from the other side, or have been there, then the theme will work. The stream of consciousness line of thought is good. It gives a path for the "psychic dream" that  you communicate to the reader. It's a dated style, but it could work.

     

    Although defacing Milton to stash drugs is a crime against humanity.


    Thanks for reading and the comments! I know there were a few errors with my grammar and the like, but I hate to make mechanical edits until I've started to get the story itself situated (which is a bad habit, I know).

     

    Interesting about the "Mind the Gap" thing, I do base this story on NYC and I used the line because they had an automated voice that would tell people the stop and remind them to "mind the gap" as the doors opened. I didn't realize it was a European, tube train, thing originally. 

     

    And I realize, as I've read a number of beat writer's over the last month, that my style may be unintentionally influenced in that way. I really wanted to explore the mind of someone who sees drugs as a means to an end and is caught in a cycle of addiction.

     

    I agree, defacing Milton is an travesity, which is why I did it. Perhaps it doesn't lend the right sense to the moment though, a more modern story may fit better.

     

    Thanks again, I appreciate the feedback.

  • I think that there is one very important thing you've done here, and that is that you've found a real voice. But that I mean that you've managed to sound authentic -- I could ahve believed that you were truly caught up in a cycle of searching your mind with drugs in order to write words that drugs rendered you incapable of writing. An authentic voice is very important.

     

    Another good point is that what we read does influence what we write. Someone once made a joke about G. K. Chesterton's dog saying, "Arf ! not because Arf Arf ! but because Arf ! Arf ! NOT Arf !"

     

    Certain writers make me feel that I am thinking more clearly and that I can enunciate my thoughts with greater distinction; others make me feel that I can better describe the scene I see before me or the emotions that surround it. It is vitally important that all great writers be, first and foremost, great readers.

     

    As to defacing Milton, it makes the point: A true writer would not dream of doing what this man is willing to do just for his fix. And I stand corrected on minding the gap.

  • Hi Paul,

     

    These are my reactions, comments:

     

    -It's (visually) difficult to read because of the blob of words with seemingly no form, no pages; hence the small amount of feedback here.

     

    -I think you have a great style; hip, young without being immature. Even though I haven't read it in years, your text is reminiscent of Catcher in the Rye. The feel of the sentences, the character's attitude. Just all around, I couldn't kick the feeling that JD Salinger was here.

     

    -You have a great pace. If you turn it into a novel, you will get a huge young adult audience. For though I suffered reading in this platform, I read on. The words are enticing. I wanted to meet your characters, impressed with the author.

     

    - On occasion, you have two distinct styles which throws one off. Example: "It need not be..."  Hmm...I wouldn't give him those thoughts or words. They don't fit. He's smart, but he's informal, cool, current.

     

    I usually stop reading after about one page if the book/story isn't good. Yours has something. The stuff of a writer.

  • HI Maggie,

     

    Thanks for the response!

     

    I realize it looks like crap on the forum, next time I'll just attach a word file, but I thought it would be better to post it like this than to create the spaces between lines and such that make it asthetically pleasing.

     

    I appreciate the comments about pacing, as that's something I was afraid I wasn't getting quite right. Same with the tone, I think I was still in the process of finding out who this guy is as I wrote, so he's not perfectly formed.

     

    Thanks again for reading!

  • I would have been more prone to read it and comment if it had just been a few sample lines, perhaps twenty, to get an example of style etc., from.

  • SphinxCameronSphinxCameron Southern Escarpment Hill Country ✭✭

    Interesting piece, though in a very real sense seeing the world through the eyes of an addict is more akin to hearding kats toward a lake -- addicts do what addicts do due to a tangle of issues and emotions they prefer not to deal with.

     

    The best advice I can give is think about your character, his life and experiences, and do it right before the weekend. If you can direct your dreams, try seeing the character through that lens as he does his thing. Write what you see then stick it in a drawer for a week before picking it up again. See if what you wrote feels like what you intended, and if so polish it.

     

    I've left stories to do other things, sometimes for a few years, and when I slip back into them the characters go places I wouldn't have expected. Somewhere in the back of the mind their stories have continued playing in the background, until what comes out is more along the lines of what the characters wanted to say.

  • Great advise, and so true! Looking back at the piece after a few weeks away from it, I see definitely how the characters has a little more purpose and direction than I think is wise to present. I don't want to be understandable.

     

    I like the herding cats analogy, I'll keep that in mind as I work on the next draft.  

  • SphinxCameronSphinxCameron Southern Escarpment Hill Country ✭✭

    Paul_Lulu wrote:

    Great advise, and so true! Looking back at the piece after a few weeks away from it, I see definitely how the characters has a little more purpose and direction than I think is wise to present. I don't want to be understandable.

     

    I like the herding cats analogy, I'll keep that in mind as I work on the next draft.  


    At times there are stories where (at the beginning) the reader sees the main character as insane, with a purpose behind every action shrouded in that insanity. As the story moves on the purpose and direction becomes somewhat clearer, as the reader is allowed to see those forces that shaped the character. In the end, while the evolved character is still enigmatic in many ways, there is (at least) more clarity.

  • At times there are stories where (at the beginning) the reader sees the main character as insane,

     

    Which stories are those?! But one man's 'insanity' can be another man's common sense.

     

     

  • SphinxCameronSphinxCameron Southern Escarpment Hill Country ✭✭

    kevinlomas wrote:

    At times there are stories where (at the beginning) the reader sees the main character as insane,

     

    Which stories are those?! But one man's 'insanity' can be another man's common sense.

     

     


    Stories you don't seem to have read.

     

    Good to see you haven't changed, Mister Lomas.

  • Oh I read all manner stuff, or to put it perhaps clearer, stuff using many methods, but perhaps one person's idea of what is insane is another's normality? Or even that Angels Fear To Tread thing.

     

    What actually is insanity? (Apart from the clinical definition.)

     

    Evel Knievel. Insane?

     

    Yuri Gagarin?

     

    A bomb disposal team?

     

    The word is over-used and often out of context.

  • SphinxCameronSphinxCameron Southern Escarpment Hill Country ✭✭

    I will agree insane is oft overused by others, but I tend not to.

     

    By insane I mean a character whose actions / reactions would not be considered normal, and not in the daredevil risk-taking or mildly eccentric manner.

     

    The person who breaks their dog's leg, pull the animal's teeth, then sets sad pooch on fire at the end is no more normal than the person who knocks granny on the head, stuffs her body in the freezer, then breaks out the deli slicer.

  • I will agree insane is oft overused by others, but I tend not to.

     

    Indeed.

     

    By insane I mean a character whose actions / reactions would not be considered normal, and not in the daredevil risk-taking or mildly eccentric manner.

     

    Again, there's many view points on what is normal.

     

    The person who breaks their dog's leg, pull the animal's teeth, then sets sad pooch on fire at the end is no more normal than the person who knocks granny on the head, stuffs her body in the freezer, then breaks out the deli slicer.

     

    Well yes, that would be frowned upon, but what do you read that starts like that?! It brings us back to that discussion brought on by some really sick stuff someone posted for use to consider.

  • I would hazard that, in the context of a book, "insane" would be a character who doesn't necessarily act out of the normal expectations, but instead acting outside the expectations of the reader. I know it's satisfying (when done well) to be surprised by the actions of a character I thought i had figured out. Insane probably isn't the word I would use to describe this, but this is what I picture from this conversation - a character who doesn't fit the mold the author initially presents us with.

     

    Like I said, when done well, this kind of shift is brilliant. When done badly, obviously, it's just bad.

  • SphinxCameronSphinxCameron Southern Escarpment Hill Country ✭✭

    Paul_Lulu wrote:

    I would hazard that, in the context of a book, "insane" would be a character who doesn't necessarily act out of the normal expectations, but instead acting outside the expectations of the reader. I know it's satisfying (when done well) to be surprised by the actions of a character I thought i had figured out. Insane probably isn't the word I would use to describe this, but this is what I picture from this conversation - a character who doesn't fit the mold the author initially presents us with.

     

    Like I said, when done well, this kind of shift is brilliant. When done badly, obviously, it's just bad.


    Consider the story of what many would term an insane monster: a person who cannabilizes his (or her) victims, but who would die to protect a small child. The expectation is that the monster will remain such, but the reality would be somewhat different. The monter's actions when in context would be understandable up to a point, but the insanity would lie in the triggers the person uses to see one victim as dinner and another as someone in need of protection.

  • It is actually a legal term, and it's difficult to prove insanity in a court of law as a reason for getting a lighter sentence.

     

    https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/in-therapy/200907/the-definition-insanity-is

     

    There's a difference between being a 'bad' person and an insane one.

     

    BTW. I was chatting to someone not long ago and they insisted that there's no such thing as an evil person, but that they have been possessed. I had to wonder what century that chatter lives in.

     

  • I believe that the clinica definition of "insane" is to be "outside the norm" by a clearly defined degree; for example, if one is able to measure how much one is empathetic towards others, those within the principal bell curve would be "Normal" and those falling outside the first standard deviation above or below would be "Sociopaths."

     

    Well, above, they'd be neurotics, I imagine, and unable to function for fear that something bad may happen to someone; below the bell curve, sociopaths. At the upper fringe of the bell curve, they'd be nice people who really really care about you, and towards the bottom fringe, cold fish who really don't like anyone.

     

    Likewise, people who are within the bell curve for excitement and depression are "normal," those consistently above the bell curve are maniacs (those who have a mania), those consistently below are depressives, and those who alternate between higher than and lower than the bell curve are bi-polar, a/k/a "Manic-Depressives."

     

    Those people who live in our world with us most of the time, and don't go making their own realities, would tend to be "normal," those who often live in a different reality are psychotic, and those who never imagine a different world are unimaginative. It could be argued that Van Gogh, for example, lived on the upper fringe of this curve, in what seemed mostly like our reality but could quickly become an unreal unreality.

     

    And so forth. Sanity is an expression of one's state in comparison to the norm.

  • Quite so. Psychiatrists have a whole book full of different categorisations.

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