CROSSING OVER – HIGHMOOT

CROSS OVER WORK

Lately I have been doing a lot of what I call Cross-Over Work.

In this case I mean by saying that I have been doing a lot of work that cross-fertilizes itself in other works I am simultaneously creating. For instance I might be writing one novel and a particular scene or bit of dialogue I create will inspire another scene or piece of dialogue in another book or novel I am working on.

Though such things are not necessarily related to or limited to my various fiction writings. I might be drawing a map or making a sketch, designing something, working on a start-up project, developing an invention, writing a poem or song lyrics, or writing a novel or a non-fiction book and all of these things, or others, might give me an idea for another work I’m currently pursuing.

So today, and below (and in allusion to my previous post on actors), I am posting some of my latest Cross-Over Work. Little vignettes, or to be more accurate, often just little snippets (bits of dialogue, sections of scenes, sketch notes, etc.) of various Works I am creating and pursuing at this time.

Does your Work cross over in this way, from one work to another?

If so then feel free to comment below.

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NOT A FAIR FIGHT

“Again I don’t get it. Take one shot at your actual target and three at yourself… don’t seem like much of a fair fight to me.”

From my Western The Lettered Men

 

A CLUE

“Not every possibility is true, that’s certainly true, but every possibility is always a clue – to something other than itself. If you keep forgetting that then it’s very possible the Truth will entirely escape you. And if it does then what other possibilities really matter?”

From The Detective Steinthal

 

TRUE DARKNESS

“True darkness obscures. Few things can thrive in perpetual shade but those things that can definitely always wish to remain hidden. That is, until they are ready to be discovered. For reasons of their own.”

From The Detective Steinthal

 

ALWAYS BEST

“It is always best to hunt in silence.”

The Detective Steinthal

 

YOUR TRAINING IS OVER

“What are you training for kid? To train forever? Now who wants that kinda shit anyway? Only officers and politicians, that’s who. No, you get your ass in the fight. You’ve trained long enough. Time to be somebody.”

From Snyder’s Spiders

 

IT BLEEDS

“And how now is your wound?”

“It itches fiercely, it hurts mightily, it swells darkly, but it bleeds freely and cleanly. It is good that it bleeds so and thus I will not complain of the other things. But if you have any more of that strange brew you drink then I will not complain of a skin full of that either.”

“I have not a skin, but I can manage a cup.”

“Then so can I…”

Suegenius describing to Fhe Fhissegrim the condition of his wound

From my fantasy The Kithariune (The Basilegate)

 

A RARE AND WONDROUS FEAT

“If you cannot stand up to your own old man then you will never stand up to anyone. If you can stand up to your own old man then you can stand up to anyone else, and everyone else.

If your old man ever forces you to rebel against him then do not hate him for it, respect him for it. He has done more for you in that regard, as regards the development of your actual manhood, than any other thing anyone else could ever do for you in the world. That man who forces his son into rebellion has bred a man. You owe such a father an enormous and generous debt.

That father who always insists his son obey him, right or wrong, has bred a mere and helpless and fearful slave. You owe that father your utter disdain and yourself nothing but shame for your own endless submission.

Drink to your father Edomios. Drink long and deep. He has bred a man in you. A man who can stand upright and unafraid. A rare and wondrous feat in our age.

Maybe in any age.”

Marsippius Nicea the Byzantine Commander of the Basilegate explaining to Edomios the Spanish Paladin why he owes his father a debt of manhood

From The Kithariune

 

THAT WAY YOU SPEAK

When Michael first lands in Thaumaturgis he is met by Harmonius Hippostatic
who makes fun of the way he speaks and tries to explain to Michael where he is, and what life is like in the Lands. Michael does not at first speak in verse, but speaks in prose, but as he stays longer and longer in the land of Thaumaturgis he also comes to speak in metered, rhyming verse.

Harmonius: That way you speak, it’s quite a feat
But it will never do,
No meter, rhyme or rhythm,
It’s really quite obtuse.

Michael: Where am I?

Harmonius: Why this is Thaumaturgis,
Don’t you know your lands?
It’s one of the three countries,
Not earth, not stone, not sand.
No one’s ever figured
How it got this way
Tomorrow is the same as now
It’s always been that way.
If want you life miraculous
Or supernatural,
It’s really quite so marvelous
And never, ever dull.
But one thing in this country
You really must avoid
Speaking words in plain old prose
Is what will most annoy,
So put on your best rhyming
Your metered rhythm too
Don’t dally up a worthwhile speech
Without so much ado,
Be mannered in your speaking
Poetic when you talk
Or everyone will soon declare
Your words taste just like chalk

From my children’s book, Three Lands

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HIGH ILLUSION from THE BASILEGATE

Alatha moved towards Marsippius as he rose. He was naked in the firelight.

When she reached him she examined him closely. Then she took her finger and began to lightly trace some of the many imperfections in his flesh.

“You have been often wounded?” she asked.

“Yes.”

“Why?” she questioned.

“Duty,” he replied wearily. “Duty and manhood.”

“It is manhood to be often wounded?”

“In part,” he said flatly. “Any man without scars is no man at all.”

She stared into his eyes. They were dark like hers. Deep Greek eyes, full of inquiry. Proud Roman eyes, full of purpose. But to him her eyes were inscrutable.

“Perhaps,” she said quietly, “a man should be more than his scars.”

He reached up and took her hand, the finger of which still lingered upon the long jagged white line of an old wound on his chest. The wound of a much younger man.

“Perhaps,” Marsippius replied, “you are very wise among your kind.”

He glanced at the fire. To him the flames in the hearth seemed to burn immensely hot, yet almost entirely silent. He wondered if the fuel of this world burned differently.

When he looked back at Alatha she was once again staring deeply into his eyes. But once again he could not read her mind. He started to move forward to kiss her and then thought better of it.

She did not. Seeing his intent she moved forward and kissed him warmly upon the lips.

Then she leaned back slightly and traced her finger gently across the lips she had just kissed.

“There seem to be no scars here,” she said.

“Illusion,” he said. “There are too many to count. They are nothing but scars. So they seem untouched. Yet…” he added, seemingly almost as an afterthought, “there is room still for a few more, if you so wish.”

She laughed quietly.

“What is wish but High Illusion?” she whispered. So she pressed against him and kissed him again.

 

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A scene from my novel The Basilegate.

THE HARD STUFF from THE LETTERMEN

“Sometimes kid the well really does run dry. And when that happens there ain’t no sense in pumpin the handle til your palm bleeds or in dipping in a different bucket.

You just let the well fill fast as the well will fill.

The Truth of it is that everything else is purty much beyond your powers of persuasion anyhow. That’s just the way it works in this world. Learn that and even the hard stuff will likely soften after awhile. Even if it don’t, you will.”

From my Western, the Lettermen

NOT YET…

“I’m such a mess,” she said suddenly, burying her head in my chest. “I don’t even see how you put up with me.”

There wasn’t necessarily a good response so I asked her, “What do you mean?”

“I mean you deserve much better.”

She was probably right but that wasn’t gonna get us anywhere. Not being able to do much else I took her by the shoulders and pushed her away to look at her.

Her eyes were welling up with tears and it suddenly struck me that she might actually mean it this time. There was no way to be sure, but she at least looked and sounded genuine. I smiled at her.

“Woman, I think we both know that deep down inside, where you actually are, there’s no real problem in you. Trouble is that you’re not really any kind of solution yet either. So the question is, what are you gonna do about it?”

She lowered her eyes and as she did a single tear fell in the space between us. Then she looked up again and I could tell she wanted to say something, but before she could speak I placed my finger on her lips.

“Nothing you can say will matter,” I said. “Everything you do will.”

She nodded and then I walked out the door.

“We’ll see,” I thought to myself. “We’ll see.”

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The above is an extract from my literary novel, The Cache of Saint Andrew.

SHOW AND TELL

For my NaNoWriMo friends.

I liked the way in which, and how, she presented most of this advice.

How to Show and When to Tell

I hope you’re busy writing your amazing works of NaNoWriMo fiction!
I thought, as we dive in, it might help to understand what editors mean by “Show, Don’t Tell.”  Listen, I know it can be confusing.  Especially since there is not only mis-information and bad teaching out there, but also because there IS a time Tell!
Showing, not Telling is not about describing everything that happens. And Telling has nothing to do with narrative and backstory.  Narrative and backstory (and even action) get a bad rap because often, during narrative, backstory and action, authors drop into “telling” without realizing it.  Describing ACTION by saying “John shot Bill.” is not telling.  It’s action.  But adding:  “John felt sorry when he shot Bill,” would be telling.
See, I know. Confusing.
Here’s the bottom line:  Showing is about helping the reader experience the emotions of the character. Showing brings us into the mind and heart of the character to understand their emotional journey.
Here’s how:  If you say, ‘She felt grief,’ or even, and this is more common, ‘Grief overtook her’ you are not just telling us what emotion she’s feeling, but you’re pinpointing one emotion your reader must feel with the character. Instead, show us how despair makes her feel through how she acts, what she thinks, what she says and how she sees her world. Let us into your character’s head.
 
Telling is when you tell someone how to feel. It relates to the emotion to the story, not the narrative, backstory and action.
Here’s an example:
Let’s say your character has just lost her husband. She’s come home from the funeral to the quiet house and gone upstairs to her room.  Here are some options:
 
You could say: She stood in front of the closet and grieved. However, we feel like an onlooker, a voyeur into her world. We are told how she feels, but don’t experience her grief.
Further from that, but also a telling, is: She stood in front of the closet and felt grief course through her. We’re closer to understanding how she feels, but we’ve still been told exactly the emotion she’s experiencing.
Better is: She stood in front of the closet and wept. Here, we’re closer to experiencing what the character is feeling. We might understand what it feels like to stand there and simply weep.
But what if we took it further. What if we let the reader into the character’s skin to feel the grief?
She stood at the edge of the closet and stared at his polished shoes, at his pressed wool suits, at his crisp silky red ties. A tidy man. Not the kind to wrap his car around a tree. But there, in the back…she pushed aside the shirts and pulled out his letter jacket, the one he’d wrapped around her the night they’d met. She inhaled. Thirty years, and still his scent lingered. Please, let it linger. Please let her rewind, go back to the fight, erase her words. Erase his anger. Without a word, she stepped inside the closet, closed the door behind her, pulled the jacket over her, and wept.
Never once do I say that she is grieving. But I weave it in through her perspective, the five senses and rich details and finally her actions.
Here’s the part that people confuse. Often I see people over-showing in their effort to not tell.  What happens, then, is they write, “She bent at the knees, lowering herself into the chair,” instead of simply saying, “She sat.”  Don’t laugh – I’ll be you could find this in your early drafts! (I know I can!)  Authors spend precious words showing how a person rises from a chair, or how they get dressed. Don’t do this!  Tell actions that are common to all of us.  She tied her shoe, she made coffee, she answered the phone.  We all get what this looks like.
However, show actions that you want to make impact. If you want answering the phone to have impact, then have her reach for the phone, check the caller id, maybe hover her thumb over the receive button. Then push it before her courage fails.
Here are the easy rules for Show Don’t Tell:
Tell us everyday actions, SHOW us the important ones that reveal emotions.
            Show us the emotion, don’t tell us about it.
Are you bogging down your story by showing actions that have no emotional connection to the story?  Here’s a litmus test. Ask: How does the emotion impact your character?  Are you showing this emotion through words, action, though and perspective?
Better yet, take the MBT Challenge: Write the scene without naming the emotion! It’ll make you stretch and help you become a better writer.
Have a great NaNoWriMo week!  Go – write something brilliant!
Susie May
MBT Head Coach

ALL WORLDS from THE OTHER WORLD

“If all of the pointless and wholly unnecessary suffering in this life were collected into one vast infernal pool of anguish then it would account for the far greater part of all misery ever endured. And entirely drown the world.”

He looked off into the distance as if expecting to see some fast approaching tide of the very Ocean of Woe he had just conjured with his own words. Or perhaps he was merely remembering some far off flood of it he had never been able to forget.

“Which world?” I asked him.  “This world, or the Other World?”

“All worlds, my friend. Every one of them…

A HELLUVAH WORLD

“Let me speak to him alone if you don’t mind.”

The other two left the room shutting the door behind them.

“What do you mean?” he asked me again.

“I mean exactly what I said. The world needs dangerous men and it needs them badly.”

“Why,” he asked, seeming genuinely confused. “I thought dangerous men were, well, dangerous…”

“Of course they are.” I said.

He seemed puzzled, still grasping at his thoughts.

“But I still don’t understand.”

“It’s obvious you don’t,” I replied. “And that’s the shame of it all. But let’s assume you’re open minded and willing to learn. Yeah, that seems like a good place to start, you make your assumptions about me, I’ll make my assumptions about you, and we’ll see where that takes us. So, are you open minded and willing to learn?”

“I guess so,” he replied.

“Well then, your guess is as good as mine, isn’t it?”

He didn’t reply, so I didn’t continue. After a while he was finally confused enough to try and prompt me.

“Sir, I’m still not getting this.”

“No, you’re not. And maybe that’s my fault as much as yours. But let’s play this from another angle son. What did you just call me?”

He struggled a moment, thinking back on his sentence. When he thought he had thought long enough he answered.

“Sir?”

“And why did you call me sir, son?” I asked.

“Well because you’re older than me, because that’s the convention… because I respect you?”

“That’s part of it I guess. Maybe.”

I stood up and walked over to him, bent down and stared directly into his face. At close range. Just a few inches away. I could smell his breath, he could smell mine. I could see the tiny round light flecks and my reflection in his eyes; he could see the bloodshot in mine. He held in with me as long as he could, then turned away, his eyes dropping reflexively. I stayed on him. Didn’t move. Didn’t flinch. Didn’t look away.

“Sir, you’re making me uncomfortable,” he finally stammered.

“Is that right?” I said standing back up. “And why do you suppose that is?” I asked leaning back on my desk right in front of him, my arms out beside me, relaxed, but useful.

“Because you’re too close, because I was sitting in the chair and couldn’t get away, because…”

“Uh-huh, couldn’t get away. I see. Couldn’t stand up and walk away, couldn’t keep looking at me any longer, couldn’t stand up and step towards me any. Well, assuming that’s all true about you, how about we explore one more possibility,” I said lifting my hand and twirling my right index finger horizontally like it was a wheel. “Keep going son you’re bound to hop on the right track sooner or later. Let’s see if you can read sign and deduce all at the same time.”

He seemed distracted, or maybe temporarily flummoxed. But I could see the gears shifting. He was coming to it, like it or not. He looked at his own hands, then looked at my still turning finger, then glanced around the room, shifted uneasily in his chair. The he said very quietly, “Because you make me nervous?”

I raised an eyebrow inquisitively and kept turning my finger, more slowly this time. Keep at it kid, I thought hard at him. You’re gonna get this sooner or later. Just one more leap.

“Because you’re dangerous,” he finally said, looking me in the eye again. I smiled broadly, turned and went back to my chair.

“And son,” I asked him, “What do you do when you meet a dangerous man?”

He paused to consider, but it was his gut that did all the over-under work.

“I…uh, uhm… usually, I… don’t really know,” he answered.

“Would you like me to tell you what you do when you meet a dangerous man?” I said.

“Uh… sure,” he said, sliding around in his chair again. “I mean, I guess.”

“You guess a lot don’t ya kid.” It wasn’t a question.

“Well, I mean, it’s just a little disconcerting, is all,” he replied.

“Of course,” I said. “I get that a lot.”

I let my words drift off into silence. Finally he asserted himself again, sort of.

“Well… are you going to tell me?”

I folded my hands together interlocking the fingers, obscured my mouth with my construct, and imitated the hesitancy in his voice.

“Well… son… uh, ermm, do you want me to tell you, uh, you know, or do you want to keep on guessing until you can give a straight answer?”

His eyes dropped again.

“I want you to tell me,” he replied, more flatly, more directly this time.

“Good. Gooood. Very good. These are just my initial observations of course, but here goes. When you meet a dangerous man you shift around in your seat. Like you do in your head. You start thinking to yourself, ‘will, or how exactly will this guy hurt me.’ You start having trouble thinking. You breathe shallow and uneven. Your heart beats off-key. You start making excuses to leave. You become unsettled, passive, accommodating, weak-kneed, calculating position for your own safety. You drink the drink you’re offered. You eat the food you’re offered. You smile nervously. You laugh tepidly, timidly, but still you laugh. You dissemble inside yourself, hope for external distractions. You begin looking around for either an escape route or someone else to protect you. You become confused with doubt, consumed with fear, paralyzed by uncertainty. That sound about right, son, just generally speaking? As a first stab at the subject?”

He didn’t reply. Not out loud anyway. What he was telling himself was anyone’s guess.

“I’ll take your lack of strenuous objection as an acknowledgement of my astute observational skills. Do you wanna know what I do when I meet a dangerous man?” I asked him.

Rather than speak he nodded his head almost imperceptibly in the affirmative.

“Well, see, I have sort of an altogether different reaction when I meet a dangerous man. I tend to sit or stand perfectly still, watching him carefully, to see what he’ll do, what his habits are. I observe exactly what makes him dangerous.

His hands, the way he moves, how he talks to others, his influence, his level of confidence or lack of it. I look at his mannerisms, his physical gestures, does he lean to one side too much, is he flatfooted, injured, does he favor one eye, not hear well, how quick or slow is he?

I start looking for weaknesses. I don’t think, ‘how can he hurt me,” no, I think to myself ‘will I need to hurt him,’ and if so, ‘how exactly will I do this?’ Where is he most vulnerable, how do I take him down with the least resistance, and the quickest, where do I ambush him, and when? Is this guy a public danger, a private one, both? What’s the best environment to limit him to?

I become fixed, active, braced, set, poised, aware, resilient, relaxed, and also calculating, but not for my own safety. No, I start calculating how he won’t be safe anymore. Because I’m there. I drink the drink I’m offered if I feel it’s safe to do so, I eat the food I’m offered if I feel it’s smart to do so. I smile a little and I laugh a little, but I don’t confuse doing either for friendliness or fear. It’s just a play for appearance, and a chance to note more.

I don’t need an escape route; I look for ways to get at him. To get closer. To advance. I know the closer I get the less dangerous he becomes. I don’t need someone to protect me, if necessary I’ll do the protecting for others, and if necessary I’ll be the one he needs protection from.”

He looked at the cup of coffee and the Danish he had been ponderously and abstractly consuming. I smiled again, broadly and genuinely.

“Don’t worry son. See, aside from what I just told you there’s one other thing you need to know about dangerous men.”

“What’s that?” he asked.

“Just this. There are two kinds of dangerous men in this world. There are the dangerous men who hunt men like you. And who stalk women and children, of course, and anyone else they can dominate, or that fears them. That’s the kind of dangerous man who makes a guy like you look for an escape route, or makes you look for someone to protect you.”

When I didn’t say anymore he was quiet a moment and then he asked what I knew he would ask.

“And what’s the second kind of dangerous man?”

“Me,” I said.

“You?” he said, but it wasn’t really a question.

“Me,” I repeated. “And that’s why the world needs more dangerous men, and needs them badly. Because for every one of me there’s ten of the other kind. So whereas not all dangerous men are equal, it sure wouldn’t hurt to even the odds up a bit until they are. Then we’ll see how things square at the corners. And if they don’t which corners are sharpest and cut the deepest. Or are hardest to whittle away.”

I stood up and walked around my desk and up to where he sat. I waited. When he rose to his feet I shook his hand vigorously and in a friendly fashion. As if I’d known him for years. I slapped him on the back, I smiled, I laughed. I led him to the door and opened it wide for him.

At the exit he turned and looked at me as hard as he knew how. I saw myself reflected in his eyes again. He opened his mouth to speak, seemed to think better of it, and didn’t. I nodded as if we were old buddies.

“If you ever need a safe escape route son – I’m certainly not it,” I told him. “But if you ever need a really dangerous man for a truly good cause, I’m available.” He nodded in reply, and I almost got the feeling he understood.

Then I shut the door, walked to my desk, and went back to work. There were still dangerous men to hunt, and miles and miles to go before I could sleep again.

Sometimes it’s a helluvah world, ain’t it?

Sometimes it’s just one helluvah world.

YOU GET THAT WAY FROM TIME TO TIME

In the past three days I have written four poems (Three Strangers, Fall Is Not a Season, two untitled as yet), five songs (Waking in the Grave, I Took My Guns, A Hoard Did I Encounter, I’d Really Like to Know, one untitled so far), part of a new sci-fi short story (Proximal), dialogue for my novel (There is a Road), an essay, several aphorisms, 20 or so measures of music, made several blog and message board posts, started a couple of papers, outlined a new Ebook (The Trainable Man), sketched out part of a map, and wrote up part of an invention draft.

That’s a pretty good clip even for me.

For some reason I’ve just been hot over the past few days. You get that way sometimes.

THERE IS A ROAD from THE OTHER WORLD

“There is a road far greater than the Weirding Road. For although both Sidh, or even Man if he may find it, can use the Weirding Road to cross between one world and the Other, this miracle is nothing compared the Greater Road. By means of the Weirding Road there is no longer any Great Gulf between Iÿarlðma and Klarvâl, but what is that uneven road and humble passage compared to the transit of the Wyrding Road?

Sidèhl and Men may use the Weirding Road to go where it leads between our worlds as the troubled times will dictate. But upon the Wyrding Road all things move everywhere – it connects all worlds at all times and forevermore.

The Weirding Road was made for us, for Sidh and Man, so that we may come to know each other and together wonder upon those marvelous and numerous things we know not of. Yet the Wyrding Road was made for all, to answer everyone of everything, if they will but seek it out and traverse its infinite paths and eternal length.

The Weirding Road is ours my friend and makes a traveled way between us, but the Wyrding Road is everyone’s and everywhere makes a secret and mysterious way to everything that is or will ever be. The Wyrding Road is God’s own highway and upon this Greater Road we must now go if we are to answer true the charge lain upon us and help to set our worlds once more right and free.

For us our Weirding Road has come to its end. Our Wyrding Road is still open though, yet where it leads I cannot say. But if we take it then we shall also be taken, and to unnamed places we have never known.”