Monthly Archives: October 2014

The Writer’s Alphabet vol.2; “B is for Bastards”

letter b

Bastards. What are we dealing with here? According to the Google Dictionary a bastard can be anyone of the following:

“a person born of parents not married to each other”; “an unpleasant or despicable person”; “a scoundrel, villain, rogue, rascal, weasel, snake, miscreant, reprobate”; et cetera…

According to my other online source of entertaining information, Wikipedia, a bastard can mean all those things and more.

So what do bastards have to do with writing, writers, and the writing life? Quite a bit actually. First, we as writers can be, and have known to have been, fucking bastards of the 1st degree. Bukowski, Hemingway, Thompson, et al, are all well known bastards and according to my research for the first article in this series, also assholes. But bastard is the word of the day, so we’ll stick to that. Being a bastard as a writer is not uncommon, but also not entirely necessary. Being a bastard also means being stubborn and sticking to an ideal, for example, the ideal of a story or character. By keeping your head firmly up your ass, as only the best of the bastards are wont to do, you as a writer can fight for your version of a story. This is only recommended in extreme circumstances when you actually have the leverage in name to negotiate while your head is entrenched inside yourself. Not having any cache will get you nowhere and just have possible agents, publishers, and producers wondering, “who was that bastard that was yelling with his head up his ass. I’ve never heard of him and now no one else ever will.” The moral? Being a stubborn bastard only works when your name carries some weight in the industry so that the sight of you bent over yourself and mumbling into your colon can be overlooked. Though being professional always wins out in the end.

Characters as bastards. Similar to characters as assholes, writing a character who is a bastard in the “scoundrel, villain, rogue, rascal, weasel, snake, miscreant, reprobate” way is vital to a great story. Obviously having your antagonist as these things works, but try writing your protagonist this way. I find that I’m leaning towards more protagonists that aren’t entirely lovable. Or at least, if people love them, they don’t love themselves which makes for great conflict and tension because then the character is acting in spite of themselves for the good of those around them. The internal conflict and tension is so great that it can’t help but spill over into the external world of the character, leading to many different layers of build-ups and payoffs. I believe the term “anti-hero” is appropriate here.

All in all, bastards. They add to any story, however, being one yourself is only recommended if your name precedes your words. Even then, why?


Weekly Writing Prompts vol.13; October 20th – October 26th 2014

1) Over come with the intensity of effort it takes to get out of bed, Linus gives up and doesn’t leave. He ends up having one of the most adventurous days of his life. Tell his story in 3 pages or less.

2) Olivia can’t stand it when someone sneaks something behind her back. She turns to find this happening. Write her rant in one sentence.

3) The Hats and Toques are squaring off for another round of battle but one Hat and one Toque have a secret that might end the conflict on the spot. Write the scene.

4) It is Wilson’s last day working in the super-secret archive for super-secret government documents. Wilson has just about had enough with all of the super-secret bullshit. Write a short story about this.

5) Write a rejection letter for a world famous work of art.

6) Sandra is ready to run. To where she doesn’t know, but she just took her first step. Write a 3-sentence story about this.

73bf802e08b4_fd_cf06f57c57f9-460x3807) Check out the photo and answer who, what, when, where, how, and why?

“This is How You Lose Her” by Junot Diaz


On my way to write this post I had a thought: All things being equal – ceteris paribus – the entirety of the human race all started because one of our ancient ancestors saw a glint in the eye of another and acted.

This is How You Lose Her was my first foray into Junot Diaz’ work and it was thoroughly enjoyable. A book of short stories linked by the character Yunior, This is How You Lose Her covers many themes, but love is the prevailing ghost that haunts all of the characters. All of the stories deal with Yunior’s life in some way, either directly with his love life or with one of his relatives. What I liked about the book was its honesty. There are no corners cut and no worries about the likability of characters and their actions. The stories remain true to the nature of the characters created and that is the closest a writer can come to perfection with respect to plot and character development. While a work of fiction, it felt like reality was always oozing just beneath the surface giving life to each subtle twist in every story. Diaz spares nothing and that is beautiful. Give it a read!

“Hyperbole and a Half” by Allie Brosh

blog_126 It seems like honesty is the word of the day, or maybe I’ve just stopped reading fluffy crap. Allie Brosh is a brave, witty, honest sensation. A combination of self-drawn comics and prose from her blog – also titled, Hyperbole and a Half – the book covers topics from her life such as depression, identity, guilt, adulthood, and cake. She also details some hilarious anecdotes about her dogs and one terrifying incident with a goose. This is a must read for anyone who seriously questions themselves and doesn’t suffer fools, or their own bullshit, kindly. It is probably one of the most important books ever published because of its unfettered and yes again, honest nature. A must read.

Weekly Writing Prompts vol.12; October 6th – October 12th 2014

1) A tremble was felt through the small universe contained within a droplet of morning dew. Write a paragraph about the effects of this occurrence.

2) Write a page about ferocity.

3) The word feeble traditionally means “weak”. Write a 3 sentence story about how it could mean “strong”.

4) One time eating a meal of liver and onions saved the world. Write about it.

5) In a ghastly turn of events, a horse wasn’t a horse of course…where, when, why and how?

6) “I wish you the best that anyone could ever hope for,” Petra said to Justin. Petra didn’t actually mean this. Why?

658294821c09af5cf9a0b38758fb-post7) Michael Caine is holding this gun. What are his thoughts, beyond I look quite dapper and stately with this gun?

“Slam” by Nick Hornby

slam-hornby I felt like I knew what I was getting into with Slam by Nick Hornby. Having read some of his other novels and ranking them all my favourites, Slam came around when I needed some Hornby in my life. It didn’t disappoint but also wasn’t entirely what I expected. Without speaking specifically about the plot, I will say it speeds along nicely and then offers a totally unexpected twist that plays with time and makes you think about the future from a perspective that, I would argue, isn’t common. This is what makes the entire novel. Gaining another perspective on how to view events that have yet to occur helps plan for those events or at least plan and make decisions that would lead you along the path to the future you see and wish to live.

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