Tagged: creature

Becoming More Human-like

Writing is many things, but maybe more than anything else it comes down to recording — and transmitting — the experience of seeing the world through someone else’s eyes. That’s the essence of “show don’t tell.” And it’s the essence of voice in your fiction.

Kent reflected on this, and on our process and all the different sets of eyes he’s looked out through, and formed the opinion that the act of writing has increased his capacity for empathy. For context, his workplace nicknames have included Spock, Data, and more recently, Sheldon. (His high-school nicknames were less flattering.)

He’s convinced that empathy has become easier for him, sometimes involuntary, and he blames it on the writing. It’s also possible that it’s just a symptom of getting older, or a side effect of spending so much time with someone as compassionate as Jen.

Writing is many things, but most of all it’s projecting yourself into another being. The reader has a keen nose for puppet strings, so the writer must cut them without the character falling limp. You can get away with a little pretending, a little imitating, but it won’t carry you far. To win the reader’s trust, your writing must contain the characters’ honest fears and hungers.

It ends up giving a writer lots of practice standing in others’ shoes. And if you’ve never had a nickname based on an inhuman creature devoid of emotion, you probably have a good head start!

Mom Dozes – Holiday Prompt

  • k-avatarshe didn’t see me creep
  • blink a bright red and green
  • I’ll be back again some day
  • we can hardly stand the wait
  • a bowl full of jelly

Mom dozes in her recliner, the television screen flooding her and the rest of the room with a greenish glow and whitish noise from the football game. She always falls asleep during halftime, which is why I waited until the third quarter to make my move, so she didn’t see me creep down the stairs and out the back door. In my backpack are all the supplies I think I will need, and on my way through the kitchen I grab the only food in the house, a bowl full of jelly beans. Although I’m desperate to start my new life far away from this place and that woman, I know with depressing certainty that I’ll be back again some day. Leaving the televised crowd noise behind, I hear tree frogs and night bugs. I see no one, but the chilly air amplifies the shivers I’ve been experiencing since I decided it was time to strike off on my own, and in my imagination eyes watch me from every shadow, feral slit-pupil eyes that blink a bright red and green. To distract myself, I slide the postcard out of my pocket and reread it in the hard beam of my flashlight: “We can hardly stand the wait!” The words of welcome dispel some of the shivers, and remind me that I’m doing the right thing, leaving the only home I have ever known. I flip the postcard over to see the university’s motto flying over an aerial shot of the campus. Yes, sophomore year was a good time to run away.

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The Hidden Dangers of Fiction Writing

r-avatarEver hear of sleep paralysis? It’s a terrifying state between sleep and wakefulness where you are starting to become aware of your surroundings, but your muscles are frozen like they are when you’re dreaming. It often feels like there’s a menacing presence in the room, looming over you, or even pressing down on you.

Sleep paralysis is the origin of stories about ghosts and succubi and other nocturnal monsters, and can also probably be blamed for more modern tales of alien intruders.

In the past Jen suffered from sleep paralysis, so when it came time to write about one of our unlucky characters having an episode, she stepped in to provide the vivid details.

Which it turns out was not a good idea. After not having any sleep paralysis events for several years, she got hit with one after writing the scene.

Luckily for Jen, she sleeps in the same bed as her writing partner. After Jen’s total freakout, Kent got up and did a perimeter sweep, making sure there were no lurking bad guys in the bedroom. And then he came back to bed and let Jen cling to him for the rest of the night.

Drawing on real experiences is a way to add power to your prose, and getting the words out can even help put past pain behind you (e.g., therapeutic writing). But there can be a dark side to “writing what you know.” Sometimes when you look down into the depths, they look back up at you.

Helga Concealed Herself

  1. k-avatarcharacter –bigfoot
  2. setting — dry dock
  3. object –wooden shoes
  4. situation –wet t-shirt contest

Helga concealed herself below the experimental hydrofoil in the dry dock. Stowing away on it in Seattle had been the only way for her to reach Holland undetected, preserving the secrecy of her woodland race. But the next stage in her mission would require that she show herself, in fact the magic tulip bulbs would only be given to the winner of the wet t-shirt contest. And to be allowed into the waterfront dive where the Dutch National Wet Tee Convention would be held, she had to first obtain the traditional footwear. She hoped she could find them in her size.

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The Himalayas Were Breathtaking

  • by jenwarm my numb fingers
  • to meet a yeti
  • “Don’t you appreciate my cuisine?”
  • — all those beautiful bullfrogs
  • threatening face of a Doberman

The Himalayas were breathtaking in the moonlight, but even colder than I anticipated. I rubbed my hands together over the fire to warm my numb fingers. This was the vacation of a lifetime, and while many in my group were here to climb Everest, I had a different objective: to meet a yeti. Tomorrow we would hike to base camp, after which we would go our separate ways. That meant a celebratory feast this evening, with plenty of food prepared by the tour company’s French chef.

“Don’t you appreciate my cuisine?” grumbled Henrí. “I brought the ingredients all the way from Marseilles packed in dry ice.”

I, along with my fellow hikers, stared at the display of grisly drumsticks, the webbed feet still intact. I don’t know what the rest of them were thinking, but I could not get rid of the image of the frogs they’d come from — all those beautiful bullfrogs slaughtered for their meaty little thighs.

I was hungry though, so I grabbed one of the frog legs and took a tentative bite. Before the flavor could register, a creature bounded into our camp. It was a large, hairy white biped with the threatening face of a Doberman. Well, the teeth of a Doberman anyway.

It could only be the yeti I’d come to see!

It plucked the frog leg from my hand and sniffed it, then shoved the whole thing in its mouth, bones and all. Such a majestic creature! I managed to get my camera out and begin filming as it gorged itself on the rest of Henrí’s feast. When it loped off into the night I had to make a quick decision. Would I return home to sell my footage, or would I follow the beast into its forbidding mountain home?

bonus points for using them in order!

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In The Utility Tunnels

  • by jenranged themselves in front of a small apple tree
  • flying swiftly and steadily
  • ended up eating mostly side dishes
  • very intricate evolutions
  • an abandoned bomb shelter deep beneath the city

In the utility tunnels that emerge from an abandoned bomb shelter deep beneath the city lives a strange race of creatures that, before radiation caused very intricate evolutions in their DNA, were once the sort of lower-teir relatives who ended up eating mostly side dishes at Thanksgiving because they lacked the nimbleness and fortitude that led to their dominant cousins flying swiftly and steadily up the buffet line, gorging themselves on the turkey and the various pies, and when these creatures finally found their way to the surface they ranged themselves in front of a small apple tree and scratched their heads, for they had never seen its like before.

double bonus points for using them in reverse order in one sentence

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Mike Was Four Thousand Feet Above the Foothills

  • by jenan organ resembling a heart
  • a recipe for madness
  • four thousand feet above the foothills
  • just a ball of nerves
  • on the verge of starvation

Mike was four thousand feet above the foothills and on the verge of starvation when he finally broke down and ate the yeti carcass, starting with an organ resembling a heart that in fact was just a ball of nerves and rudimentary, miniaturized teeth, at which point his meal became a recipe for madness.

bonus points for using them all in one sentence

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The Best Immersion-Therapy

  • k-avatarsex-anxious parents?
  • copulating since 1400
  • projections of the men
  • the demon’s scrotum is clearly in view

The best immersion-therapy for sex-anxious parents? Gotta be Grotto des Grotesques, where the foyer is populated with digital projections of the men who have held the title of Lothario Supremo since the award’s inception in 1239. Very soothing!

Also, in its depths, is a geothermal manifestation of a pair of infernal trysters who’ve been copulating since 1400. Although most of the lovers’ forms are embedded in calcite and sulfurous accretions, the demon’s scrotum is clearly in view.

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There Will Be No Tribunal, Humpries

  • by jenIs it a sea dragon?
  • dropped the feather in the sand
  • already weep from loneliness
  • fortune teller’s blood
  • his spindly legs
  • There will be no tribunal, Humphries
  • another troupe of acrobatic midgets

There will be no tribunal, Humpries,” Abercrombie said as he dropped the feather in the sand where it joined the coagulating pool of the fortune teller’s blood. “You will be banished and I will simply hire another troupe of acrobatic midgets to take your place.”

Humpries wobbled on his spindly legs. He hadn’t expected to be caught in the act of murder. He had expected time in which to cleverly stage the scene so that the superstitious carnies would all wonder aloud, “Is it a sea dragon? What else could have done this?”

But instead he’d been found out. Humphries couldn’t bear the thought of banishment. He felt that he could already weep from loneliness as he watched Abercrombie stalk away across the beach.

Perhaps, thought Humpries, the sea dragon could leave two victims…

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Helen Had Almost Finished

  • k-avatar— and to a lesser extent the cat and the horse
  • “Exactly!” whispered the doctor
  • finished powdering her nose
  • a killer whale’s muzzle
  • felt a strange quiver
  • dark brown man

Helen had almost finished powdering her nose, which was a noteworthy accomplishment. It looked like nothing so much as a killer whale’s muzzle, broad yet graceful, and packed with needle-sharp teeth.

Lurking in the closet, and watching Helen’s reflection through a gap in the door, the dark brown man felt a strange quiver. He drew a deep breath.

“Be still!” hissed a nearly inaudible voice behind him. Hunkered below the hanging skirts and gowns were two more people, and it was the gawky northerner who’d shushed him. The other,  a savage beauty almost as dark as the dark brown man, rolled her exquisite eyes in a meaningful manner. “Exactly!” whispered the doctor, “— and to a lesser extent the cat and the horse!”



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