Happy Mother’s Day (400 Million BC) Video


My mom worked the puppet in this special effects video. I did not have any idea how to film it. So look in the background and you can spot her head! That is my fault. I never remember to think before I do things. So I am always walking out the door without pants and the like. Still I think it is fun.  It was my mother’s day present for my Mom. So happy mother’s day Moms.

A NOUS FILM.

A NOUS FILM. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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Marked red is a counter — a typographic part o...

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Cheating Death (Short Story – Horror)


The last thing that I remember was getting up off the couch to change the channel on the television set. When I stood up it was as if an excruciating bolt of thunder pierced me through the center of the breastplate. I became light headed. Confusion overtook my mind and I lost lucid consciousness, which dwindled away leaving me in a vague trance-like state.

I was aware of being in physical peril, but only in the sense as being a third party observing myself from the outside. I saw my arm clutch at the sharp chest pains grabbing my breast with claw of a hand. Then I saw my body crumple and collapse and fall hard towards the living room floor. I was surprised not to see myself lying on the floor unconscious.

Instead, the inexplicable began to unfold. I was back inside of my body now, but I continued to fall, my body unstopped by any hard surface. I watched as my form crashed through the living room floor and dropped beneath it. I continued to tumble, my body shattering the concrete as I fell through the foundation of the house, and I still I continued to drop away. I fell beneath the crust of the earth plummeting downward into the blackness. I fell like a stone, unimpeded. I continued to tumble for what seemed like hours on end.

During the entire event, my mind became weary and I dropped off into a deep sleep. I suddenly was aware that I was dreaming. However, the entry into the dream was inhospitable. It was a nightmare of sorts.

I dreamed that I saw a single white burning candle; this candle was in an old-fashioned metal candleholder with a ring for the finger—the kind people used to carry around by hand to see in the darkness before days of electricity and incandescent light bulbs.

I dreamt I saw this candle in the carrier sitting precariously on a rock-covered floor. I watched the candle anxiously, as the tiny yellow tongue of fire fluttered, tremulously clinging to the wick. I realized that this was a symbol. It was the burning candle of my life force and that fragile flame was my existence, so delicate and vulnerable, and so easily extinguished forever without warning. At the end of the dream, I was terrified that something would blow the flame out and that I would die.

At that point, I awoke. And I found myself lying here on the stony floor in this icy, black abysmal place.

Oh, frightful black void, in this dark realm of plucked out eyes, what is this bone-chilling cold that bites at my face bitterly, like unseen frost? Oh baleful circumstances, why do you conspire against me to engulf me like a tomb.

There would appear that nothing is here save the black hanging demise in the biting chill. Nevertheless, I had an overwhelming superstitious mindfulness that something was indeed there in the inky black with me. Yet I could not seem to feel it or hear it. I found my footing among the stones and then I stood up.

I turned round about looking wildly for any sign of light…but alas, darkness was all I saw.

May God, give me just a small crack of light to pursue, let him extend to me one thread of hope that I might find flight from this wretched place. All I need is a solitary pinpoint of light to gaze at for the briefest moment. I need to know. Tell me do I have eyes or am I blind! It is driving me mad…

But despite my plea, I see nothing. I find myself abandoned to the poison of sightlessness. In fear, I began to walk about the dark cavern aimlessly.

Soon an eerie emotion coursed through my veins. I suddenly sensed that some sort of beast was following very close behind me, biding its time before attacking me. A rush of panic washed over me, like a bucket of icy water. In this terror, I could swear a long skeletal hand reached from behind me. I sensed its palm cupped just shy of my mouth, perhaps to mute my screams, perhaps to silently suffocate me, or perversely, just to amuse itself with the great power it had over me.

I had an unshakable notion that its gaunt hand extended a long bony finger, and without touching me, lustfully traced along the contours of my face in the dark. I knew all this was happening even though I could not provide evidence of it.

But then I smelled a plague-ridden, putrid stench. And I knew then that something was indeed with me in the blackness and cold.

I quickly thought back in time to remember how I got here. I finally realized that I must have suffered a heart attack back in my living room, and that was the beginning of all this horror. Then I wondered if I, in truth was actually lying unconscious on the living room floor. Lack of blood to my brain could have caused me to hallucinate all of this nightmarish emotional chaos.

But I feel the stones rough under my feet on this floor and when I inhale, I experience the cold biting at my nostrils. I am here, wherever this place is.  This does not seem like a dream. This seems very real. And something dangerous is here with me.

I did seem to have a heart attack. I felt the stabling chest pains. If I did, I am fighting for my life. But why am I in this dark cavernous place of danger.

Unless this creature, of course…it can be no other than he…I realize that this beast so near me in the bowels of this black abyss is Death. Death is following me and he will try to claim me if he can. I must fight to live; I must get back to the living room. But how long can I escape Death down here trapped in his dark lair?

I immediately jerk with a shudder coming out of my thoughts. I felt something. It was a cold sensation…There it is again. It is he. Death touched me!

In the numbness of terror, Death extended one bony finger touched me on the nape of my neck. That odious fetid appendage, having been chilly upon my neck, makes me want to wretch!

My body jerks, startled and alarmed as I hear the beast roar furiously. Its low base snarl is a rattling knock that echoes like a tiger in the jungle.

How many souls has this executioner liberated from their living bodies? Mortal life is a debt everyone must pay to the reaper in time. Yet everyone evades the beast when he or she can, it is our nature. No one wants to die. I do not want to die.

Yet Death is following my every step. The beast is forbidding. He is methodic, relentless, and most cruel of all, infinitely patient.

My mortal life’s tenacity, never wanting to yield, forces me to press onward blindly, wandering in the black cavern. My legs are weary and heavy and I am losing my footing as I try to flee. How can I stave off Death? I can see nothing here and know not any way out of this black cavernous throat of stone, a realm that Death knows better than I know the back of my own hand. I am surely doomed.

But then then suddenly there is hope. What is this that I see? Right before I stumble from fatigue and Death can overtake me, a miracle occurs. There in the infinite black void just ahead—I see a light!

Oh wonderful, glorious, life giving light, It is just ahead of me.

I approach the illumination running as I head for the source.

This miraculous light in the lair of Death… it is my candle of life…the candle from my dream, resting in its iron holder sitting on the stony floor just as I dreamt it. The fluttering flame of my mortal existence is still burning.

But then my heart sinks as I hear Death coming up from behind me and he sucks loud, rattling, strings of mucous inside his lungs as they pull in the icy air. My foe holds the foul breath in his lungs, that when blown from its cracked lips, will threaten to snuff out my candle. But now that I am standing before the flame, maybe I can try to guard my fire of life from the creature that wants to extinguish it.

I feel and smell Death behind me and then I feel him blow the stream of breath from his lungs forcefully. The repulsive breath hits my back and deflects around me.

My flame of life still burns! Death cannot hurt me now. Indeed, he cannot snuff out my candle as long as I stand here.

The beast growls behind me with a primeval fury. However, for all of his ferocity, the beast roars in impotent rage. Death is singular in its insignificance now.

Looking past my candle on the floor, I see a brilliant rising line of radiant light on the far wall. I walk nearer to find that the vertical line of illumination is actually the crack at the opening between two immense metal doors. Peering through the crack, I see a vast chamber. It has no end. And inside it is a source of infinite life sustaining light.

I push at the doors and as they slowly open, the dark cold lair of death is breached with divine light. This light is a radiance as warm, blessed, and as dazzling as the sun.

I leave my candle burning on the floor of Death’s dark lair and walk forward into the vast glowing chamber of safety.  Never again will I suffer in darkness. Never more shall I shiver in the cold.  I shall live in this glorious warm realm of hope.

I turn back one last time to look into the shadows of the den of Death. Then I see Death himself standing just shy of the light. What an atrocity to the senses. The creature is utterly vile and repugnant as it stares at me with cold black eyes and curved venomous fangs. Nevertheless, I stand bold, as it will not approach from the shadows. The beast seems petrified of the living light.

Death snarls at me in anger and the ground shakes.

Then I realize that I am in peril. I am suddenly alarmed as I left my candle behind. On the floor in the shadows, I see its flame burning with no protection. Death inhales and blows against the yellow trembling tongue of fire and it flutters. Then suddenly the flame of my life is snuffed out forever.

I instantly panic, but in time, I realize that I am unharmed. I am still alive because of this sacred brilliant glow. I realize with joy that I have beaten death. I laugh at death, mocking him.

In a rage of defeat, my foe pulls hard at the metal doors and they crash shut between the two of us. I turn around and face the light. I immerse myself in its warmth. Light is everywhere, there is a world of life in here.

Suddenly I realize where I am. I am in Heaven.

I stand in the illumination of God omnipotent in fantastic joy. Then I wait for the holy sounds. I always wanted to hear the angels in Heaven sing like sirens.

I long for the angel’s mellifluous chorus. Yet, the music does not come. However, I hear something even greater. It is louder than ten thousand trumpets.

I hear what I never imagined I would hear in Heaven. I hear billions of blood-curdling screams come from within the sun like glow.

Then it hits me and I know where I really am.

I am in Hell.

The intense light grows with an escalating heat until it is so hot that my flesh begins to sting.  I see this endless chamber for what it really is. It is a place of raging fire, conflagrations, and a realm of infernos. There are explosions like geysers that send rolling flames rocketing upwards. All around me are a perilous number of lava pits; they bubble, boil, and vomit liquid stone and burning sulfur.

I dare not walk.

The floor at my feet cracks open and a volatile blaze consumes my body. It wraps around my form, like a serpent. I am in a burning cocoon of flames.

I want to run wildly, to roll on the floor, and snuff out the unbearable flames that overtake me. However, I dare not move near the pits of molten fire. For in all the burning sulfur pools, I see flailing skeletons hopelessly more doomed than I am.

They are the ones who ran in fear and fell into the hellish sinkholes. Now they are nothing but flaming frameworks of animated bones, thrashing, screaming, and trying to tread in the red-hot liquid. They scream, trying merely to keep their skulls above the surface. I see them grasp at the sides of the spewing sulfur pits. Skeletal hands arise from the molten lava, reach out to the edge, and rest themselves upon the bones of their forearms. Skeletal digits grasp wildly for my legs as the condemned attempt to pull themselves out of the depths of despair. I step back away from the languishers lest they pull me into the molten prison with them.

I stand still. I know I cannot run. I must not run as the others did.  The best things I can do are stand still and suffer the fire.

Some of the damned in Hell are not in the pits and I see these skeletons clamber past me.  These ones run wildly in a panic, wailing aloud as their bones burn until they become dry and crack with a pop. They suffer hopelessly as they fly up off the ground when a flare of the devils flaming tongue explodes upwards, taking them up into the air with the rising inferno.

I am escalating into a wild panic. I am on fire and my flesh is charred and falling off my body like melting wax. In all the fear, I went mad. I could not help myself. And I began to run.

I am one of the countless runners in Hell now. We scream wretchedly to no avail. All we live for is to run away from the inescapable fires and try to jump over the molten pits. Some of us run and dodge the exploding flames, like soldiers running into mortar fire, and others fall and drown in the boiling molten depths of despair. So hideous is all the howling that it commits an offence against the mind.  All here have abandoned hope. For us there is only panic, screaming, and torment beyond bearing.

I ran for a far-reaching distance but then I lost my footing, I stumbled, and I fell into a molten sinkhole. Dipping under the pool of spitting and belching lava, I tread in magma to brink my skull above the surface. Gasping for my breath, I draw burning sulfur fumes into my lungs. I cough up lava and fire as I suffer in unspeakable torture. Yet for all the fire consuming me, I do not die. I feel everything. But this makes no sense as my candle of life, was snuffed out by death. So I should be dead.

To my horror, I now realize that I am indeed dead and that I will burn here in Hell for eternity.

I am truly repentant for how I lived my life in sin. I was wrong and I know this. But God is forgiving. I cry out to God praying for mercy and forgiveness. I plead that God spare me this burden, an existence that I cannot possibly bear. I wait for an answer to my prayer of genuine remorse and shame.

And God is stony silent.

Lovers and the Antique Brass Bed


It was a cold November day, and as I lay in bed awakening, I saw the newborn sun’s illumination flare up behind the layer of condensation on the bedroom windowpanes.

golden mist coming in window

The light shone diffuse, coming into the bedroom as a gold radiant mist.

My ancestors had repainted those wooden, square borders that hold the glass, painting them again and again over the years. The wood had an accretion of paint layers, almost geological, and sedimentary, in sheets of white weather coatings. After many years, the layers of white paint flaked, and cracked into many fine lines and fissures.

The bedroom window I looked at was an old window, in an old house, a house of four generations, which in time became home.

The sun’s light, filtered by the fog on the window, shone diffusely into our bedroom as a gold, radiant mist. It filled the bedroom, as if gilded dust hung about everywhere in the air.

Turning my head on the pillow, I saw her sleeping next to me. The soft radiance revealed the graceful, contours of my wife’s face. Hers was a statuesque, symmetrical, bone structure, resulting in feminine loveliness.

The condensation on the windowpanes, attested to our warm life breaths, pulling in and out of sleeping lungs during the night. The layer of moisture clung to the glass as a memory. It held the traces of her whispers in bed, whispers which I had felt against the nape of my neck the night before. I vaguely recalled that softly spoken, “I love you,” fading away, as my conscious awareness sank, into the oblivion of sleep, as if I were slipping beneath the surface of quicksand.

brass bed

The Antique Brass Bed frame; The Family Bed of four Generations

Coming out of my recollection, I yawned. I rubbed my eyes, sat up, and leaned my bare back against the vertical bars, at the head of the antique brass bedframe.

Over many years, the dry country air discolored the brass bedframe’s slats, bars, and darkened the round brass knobs atop the bedposts. As a child, I loved to turn these brass knobs with my small hands, as the circular orbs squeaked and vibrated when rotated.

The antique bedframe now showed in gradations, a spectrum of tarnished brass in the colors from shiny to the darkest bronze.

Reaching back for more than a century and a half, that bed frame had been the marital bed of the previous three generations of my family. Each generation of my ancestors married, and as a couple, they slept each night in the brass bed, and they grew old together slumbering on their Sears and Roebuck feather mattresses.

In their golden years, I contemplated what their old minds dreamed about, and how each of them lived, acting out scenes, in the realm of their imaginings. I wondered if for a night, they were young once again. As I imagined them dreaming, I could picture white diamonds pulsing, scattered across the vast, black, velvet expanse of the heavens, hanging so high above the tin roof of this humble house.

I suddenly emerged from within the depths of my mind, and became again aware of myself sitting up in the Family Bed, leaning back against the cold brass bars of the headboard. Having laid my bare back against the brass bars for too long, I was deeply chilled. I shivered in the cold bite of the bedroom air, frigid inside the unheated house.

As I pulled the old patchwork quilt, that my grandmother had sewn by hand, from atop the bed, I pulled it gently, so as not to wake her. Yet I also pulled it all the way to me, so as to bundle it and wrap it about me. I removed the patchwork quilt, from the pile of the many others that warmed she and I during the cold nights of the winter.

I wrapped the warm cloth heirloom around my bare neck, my shoulders, and my back. Then I pulled it around in front of me, grasping both ends of the quilt in one hand, holding it at my neck.

I was careful not to wake her as I lowered my legs off the bed, and let my bare feet touch the cold wooden floor. I stood up to get the blood moving in my legs, and in seconds, the chill of the floor drained all of the heat from my feet. My feet throbbed, burning painfully with the coldness. I walked away from the bed quietly, and I headed in curiosity towards the window to look at the translucent condensation on the windowpanes.

At first glance, the moisture on the inside of the pane, looked just like frosted glass, but as I inspected the foggy film more closely, I saw that the condensation was actually thousands of microscopic beads of water, each clinging tenuously to the surface of the windowpane.

In wonder, I touched the layer of moisture. The glass was cold and it chilled my finger. The moisture of our exhaled breaths wet my finger as I swiped it across the glass. My finger made a clear streak in the condensation on the pane, and small drops of water ran down from its edges. I quickly exhaled on it, and the clear streak filled halfback with the fog of the moisture of my breath’s humidity.

Her Sleeping

She was beautiful as her skin basked in the morning light. In awe of her, my breath hung heavy in my lungs, like lead, and for a moment, I could not breathe.

I turned and looked back to the bed, and I saw my wife sleeping. I cherished her with my eyes. She was beautiful as her skin basked in the morning light. Her naked shoulder lay exposed above the blanket, supple, and ivory white. She was young and innocent, shapely and nubile. In awe of her, my breath hung heavy in my lungs, and for a moment, I could not breathe.

The night before, when we went to bed, her long, chestnut hair had lay splayed out, in voluptuous disarray, across her pillow. While nuzzling at the soft, white, nape of her neck, I had pressed my nose into the silky morass of her dark hair. I inhaled the fusion of many delicate, intermingling fragrances. I remembered the all-consuming, sensual nature of the smell of her hair.

Her hair bore traces of turned over sod in the fertile fields.

Deeply woven into her reddish brown waves were traces of the farmland. Her long lustrous hair bore the earthen, musty smell of freshly turned over sod in the plowed fields. Also was the scent of that distinct breeze, which always arrives as a fragrant announcement, just moments before a summer rain shower in the country. This was a fragrant breeze that undeniably smells like safety and home. It is the smell of a blessing.

My nose detected numerous, feminine, anointing oils in her hair, and of her flesh; the oils were a musky fusion that composed her unique, primal smell. No other woman alive exuded the same fragrance. My body knew the smell of her instinctually. And when I smelled her scent, I knew she was my mate.

Her scent whispered to my sense of smell, beckoning my body unto hers. It was an intoxicating bidding of her pheromones in the innocent concupiscence of our love.

Her hair bore the scented memories from the previous evening. Woven deeply within her long silken curls, was the smell of perspiration from our naked, entwined, exhausted bodies. There was the brackish biting smell of the ocean’s waves, whitecaps that surged, swelling, and rushing inland towards the untouched volcanic rocks. The waves struck the black, jagged, pillars with a fury, throwing expansive white froth, in wide fan-like dispersals and a fine mist of briny droplets.

waves crashing

It retained faint traces from the mist of the oceans passionate waves, crashing against the black volcanic rocks. The waves struck the rocks, spraying white froth in a mist of briny droplets. We made thunder in the night, as our bodies lunged and hove in the brass bed, and our bodies moved inside of each other. It seemed that the earth moved beneath us, and that high above the angels wept.

We made amatory thunder in the night, as our bodies lunged and hove in the brass bed, moving inside of each other. It seemed that the earth moved beneath us. And for one sacred moment, the boundaries that separated us dissolved, and our two souls fused, and we both inhaled, and sighed, in one shared breath of ecstasy.

As we slept, she was soft legs, which were warm against my hamstrings on a cold winter night. She had a perfect curve the neck, the graceful arc of a warm breast, the curving relief of a smooth hip, and a white delicate shoulder that I woke up to in the night, a bare shoulder that I loved to pull the hand-made patchwork quilt back over.

She was wide, sleepy, coffee brown eyes—eyes that compelled my deepest trust by never asking for it. Her eyes showed no sign of judgment nor embarrassment, of she nor I, nor our naked bodies. Her eyes showed only a loving acceptance, for my body, my strengths, my insecurities, and my foibles.

Hers were eyes that willingly unveiled the window into her soul and revealed everything about her to me, and in doing so belied absolutely nothing that I could not accept and love, and nothing that I could not forgive and forget.

Her dark eyes staring deeply into mine made me stronger, and somehow they made me more of a man. Her eyes loved me with their softness, and they humbled me with their profound tenderness. Her eyes brought me to my knees.

When I looked deep into her eyes, I saw her innocence, her virtue, and a deep love and gratitude for everything in her life. I revered these eyes, and looking into them made me want to be a better man.

At times when thunderclouds rained down angry and struck hard on our tin roof, her eyes looked into mine showing fright. When those eyes looked into mine, the worry melted away. I realized that I had soothed her, and she was no longer afraid. Then she wrapped one arm over my chest and the other underneath my neck and she pulled her body close into mine.

And when I understood what she felt emotionally, that she believed that I had the power to protect her, and give her succor, it melted away all my inhibitions. And I cried, and I was not ashamed. She whispered tender admiration into my ear; she kissed my neck in nurturing love, and laid her cheek on my chest, then she rapidly fell into a deep, safe, sleep.

Hers were the only eyes that I would walk to the end of the earth, simply to gaze into, as they told me that she truly loved me, and that she would stay with me for the rest of our lives.

They were the eyes that I wanted to grow old with over the years. And such eyes could never lose their resplendent love and acceptance with the passing of decades.

And I was not concerned about aging. Because I knew that when I was an old man, and looked into her eyes, I would always be young.

Forever

Writing Dialogue, Advice for Writers


Writing convincing dialogue is one of the hardest things for new writers to

master. In fact, it’s so rarely done well in any form of fiction that when it is done right,
people rally around it. The movie Pulp Fiction, Terry McMillan’s novel Waiting to
Exhale, and the TV series My So-Called Life were all remarkable in large part because of
how believably the characters spoke.
Here’s the kind of dialog you read in many beginners’ stories:
“What happened to you, Joe?”
“Well, Mike, I was walking down the street, and a man came up to me. I
said to him, `What seems to be the difficulty?’ He replied, `You owe me a
hundred dollars.’ But I said I didn’t. And then he hit me.”
Here’s how real people talk:
“Christ, man, what happened?”
“Well, umm, I was goin’ down the street, y’know, and this guy comes up to
me, and I’m like, hey, man, what’s up? And he says to me, he says, `You owe me
a hundred bucks,’ and I’m like no way, man. In your dreams. Then — pow! I’m on
the sidewalk.”
See the differences? Most people’s real dialog tends to contain occasional
profanity (“Christ”), to be very informal (“guy” instead of “man,” “bucks” instead of
“dollars”), and to have lots of contractions and dropped letters (“goin’,” “y’know”). Note,
too, that when relaying an event that happened in the past, most people recount it in the
present tense (“he says to me,” rather than “he replied”).
Also note that in the first example, the speakers refer to each other by name. In
reality, we almost never say the name of the person we’re talking to: you know who
you’re addressing, and that person knows he or she is being addressed. A few other
features of real human speech demonstrated in the second example above: when relaying
to a third party a conversation we had with somebody else, we usually only directly quote
what the other person said; our own side of the conversation is typically relayed with
considerable bravado, and the listener understands that what’s really being presented is
what we wish we’d had the guts to say, not what we actually said. We also tend to act out
events, rather than describe them (“Then — pow! I’m on the sidewalk”). Indeed, without
the acting out, the words often don’t convey the intended meaning. The speaker was
probably standing on the sidewalk throughout the altercation, of course; what he meant
by “on the sidewalk” was that he was knocked down.
Now, which of the above examples is better? Well, the second is clearly more
colorful, and more entertaining to read. But it’s also more work to read. A little
verisimilitude goes a long way. Dropped final letters are rarely shown in fictional dialog
(they’re usually only employed to indicate an uneducated speaker, although in reality
almost everyone talks that way), and vagueness about verbs (“I’m like” instead of “I
said”), verbalized pauses (“umm”), and content-less repetitions (the second part of “He
says to me, he says”) are usually left out. In a short story, I might perhaps use dialog like
the second example above; in a novel, where the reader has to sit through hundreds of
pages, I might be inclined toward some sort of middle ground:
“Christ, man, what happened?”
“I was going down the street, and this guy comes up to me, and I’m like,
hey, man, what’s up? And he says to me, `You owe me a hundred bucks,’ and I
say `in your dreams.’ Then — pow! — he knocks me on my ass.”
Of course, not all your characters should talk the same way. I read one story
recently in which there were dozens of lines of dialog like this:
“Interchangeable?” he said. “What do you mean the characters are
interchangeable?”
We have the attribution tag between an initial word and a sentence that repeats
that same word. This is clearly being used to denote confusion — and works fine once or
twice, but grates if the same dialog device is employed more than that in a given story —
especially by multiple speakers. Assign distinctive speaking patterns to single characters.
One trick is to come up with a word or two that one character — and only that character —
will use a lot (in my The Terminal Experiment, the character Sarkar loves the word
“crisp,” using it to mean anything from well-defined to delicate to appealing to complex);
you might also come up with some words your character will never use (in Starplex, I
have a character who hates acronyms, and therefore avoids referring to the ship’s
computer as PHANTOM).
Profanity is also important. Terence M. Green’s rule: you can’t worry about what
your mother will think of your fiction. But, again, not all characters swear the same way,
and some may not swear at all (in The Terminal Experiment, I have a Muslim character
who never swears, although the rest of his speech is quite colloquial).
It’s tricky handling characters who are not native English speakers. No matter
what language they’re speaking, people tend also to be thinking in that language. It’s
common to write a French character saying things like, “There are beaucoup reasons why
someone might do that.” But at the time the person is speaking, his brain is thinking in
English; it’s as unlikely for him to slip into French for a word as it is for a computer
running a program in FORTRAN to suddenly switch over to BASIC for a single
instruction. Instead, if you want to remind the reader of the character’s native tongue,
have the character occasionally mutter or think to himself or herself in that language.
The best way to learn how real people talk is to tape record some actual human
conversation, and then transcribe it word for word (if you can’t find a group of people
who will let you do this, then tape a talk show off TV, and transcribe that). You’ll be
amazed: transcripts of human speech, devoid of body language and inflection, read
mostly like gibberish. To learn how to condense and clean up dialog, edit your transcript.
For your first few attempts, try to edit by only removing words, not by changing any of
them — you’ll quickly see that most real speech can be condensed by half without deleting
any of the meaning.
Finally, test your fictional dialog by reading it out loud. If it doesn’t sound natural,
it probably isn’t. Keep revising until it comes trippingly off your tongue (yes, that’s a
cliche — but remember, although you want to avoid cliches in your narrative, people use
them all the time in speech).
A couple of matters of form that seem to elude most beginners: when writing
dialog for a single speaker that runs to multiple paragraphs, put an open-quotation mark
at the beginning of each paragraph, but no close-quotation mark until the end of the final
paragraph. And in North America, terminal punctuation (periods, exclamation marks, and
question marks) go inside the final close-quotation mark: “This is punctuated correctly.”
Get your speech-attribution tags in as early as possible. There’s nothing more
frustrating than not knowing whose dialog you’re reading. Slip the tag in after the first
completed clause in the sentence: “You know,” said Juan, “when the sky is that shade of
blue it reminds me of my childhood back in Mexico.” And when alternating lines of
dialog, make sure you identify speakers at least every five or six exchanges; it’s very easy
for the reader to get lost otherwise. Finally, much real dialog goes unfinished. When
someone is interrupted or cut off abruptly, end the dialog with an em-dash (which you
type in manuscript as two hyphens); when he or she trails off without completing the
thought, end the dialog with ellipsis points (three periods). Real dialog also tends to be
peppered with asides: “We went to Toronto — boy, I hate that city — and found …”
Get your characters talking at least halfway like real people, and you’ll find that
the readers are talking, too: they’ll be saying favorable things about your work.

The Thirsty Mason Jar


There is only one place in the whole world where you can get it. And I savored it whenever I visited my grandparents in Blanco, Texas during the summer. It is what I simply called, “Blanco Water,” and the Blanco Municipal Water Supply was processed and purified right out of the Blanco River.

Hands-down, flat-out, Blanco, Texas is the source of the best glass of water that I ever grasped in my sweaty little hands. “Blanco Water,” tastes like it is “alive” with something pure, something clean, and it always quenches the thirst, being natural, full bodied, and wholesome.

As a boy, in the summer I preferred to drink the water right from the tap of my Grandma Vera’s kitchen sink. I would turn on the cold-water and fill an old Mason jar all the way to the rim.

I gulped down the “Blanco Water,” tightfistedly; spilling some of the clear beverage around the sides of my open mouth, feeling the cool streams run pleasantly down my sweaty neck. I finished the rest, lapping it over and behind my tongue, and then slugging it down my gullet.

Even after purification, the Blanco municipal water still has the essence and the taste of the river in it—you can take the water out of the Blanco River, but you cannot take Blanco out of the water.

“Blanco Water,” smells like the rich earth.  Immediately before a heavy summer rainstorm at my Grandpa’s Morris’s farm in kendalia, there was always a first a moist, living breeze that arrived.

This breeze moved just ahead of where the rain shower was going. It had the earthy smell of iron, minerals, and the savor of the plowed-over organic matter’s fertility. “Blanco Water,” rather smells like this summer rainstorm breeze to me.

I do not really know why “Blanco Water,” smells and tastes so good. Maybe it is the moss on the banks of the river, the earthen minerals in the clay, or the limestone bed rock bottom of the river. It might even be the trace of that “5 pound bass that got away,” slowly moseying along, in the cool green shadows of the river.

In August, our whole lot would sit under a giant Box Elder shade tree when got too hot. My Grandma Vera took Blanco Water, steeped it with tealeaves, sugar, and poured it all into a gallon glass pitcher.

Grandma brought this pitcher to the round table that 3 generations sat around lazily in the cool summer shade. She poured the ice tea into Mason jars filled with jagged-edged, ice-picked, shards of frozen crystal water.

Grandma always topped off her ice tea with a few fresh mint leaves from her backyard garden. Grandma Vera was the best. I really miss her. I miss those boyhood days.

That was half a century ago. Yet I can still smell and taste the memories of all of this when I drink a glass of “Blanco Water.”

How to Write With Style by Kurt Vonnegut (2 Videos)


How to Write With Style by Kurt Vonnegut

Source : How to Use the Power of the Printed Word, Doubleday

Newspaper reporters and technical writers are trained to reveal almost nothing about themselves in their writings. This makes them freaks in the world of writers, since almost all of the other ink-stained wretches in that world reveal a lot about themselves to readers. We call these revelations, accidental and intentional, elements of style.

These revelations tell us as readers what sort of person it is with whom we are spending time. Does the writer sound ignorant or informed, stupid or bright, crooked or honest, humorless or playful — ? And on and on.

Why should you examine your writing style with the idea of improving it? Do so as a mark of respect for your readers, whatever you’re writing. If you scribble your thoughts any which way, your readers will surely feel that you care nothing about them. They will mark you down as an egomaniac or a chowderhead — or, worse, they will stop reading you.

The most damning revelation you can make about yourself is that you do not know what is interesting and what is not. Don’t you yourself like or dislike writers mainly for what they choose to show you or make you think about? Did you ever admire an emptyheaded writer for his or her mastery of the language? No.

So your own winning style must begin with ideas in your head. Continue reading