Tag Archives: writers

The Distant Sound of Violence

A Guest Post by Author Jason Greensides

Mysterious Characters and Unforgivable Acts of Violence
by Jason Greensides
 

One piece of writing advice that never set well with me – however useful it is at a practical level – is to know your characters: that you should be able to understand every little aspect of your character if you ever want them to be believable, sympathetic, and to leap off the page. Of course, in general this is useful advice, however, not only has this the potential to make writing less fun (one of the reasons I write is to discover something I didn’t know), but seems a fundamental flaw in how we should perceive other people in everyday life, particularly the violent and anti-social ones. It presupposes that characters and real people can be fully understood (and therefore judged), which I believe to be not only impossible, but ethically wrong.

The Baltimore Riots and other events of social upheaval always produce the same reaction in me. Not: How could those people act that like that? But: How could those reporting on events (which, because of ‘likes’, shares and unseen algorithms, is actually you and I), cast absolutist judgement upon people whose circumstances we can’t fully comprehend, as they themselves can’t. This too is another reason why I hate that writing mantra Know your characters: How can I truly know my characters when I don’t understand all the things that make me me?

Not only do the episodes of one’s own life seen through the lens of chance obfuscate analysis of what motivates us – our childhood, our parent’s lives, our grandparent’s lives, and back through human history – but at a genetic level, when you analyse how genes move from generation to generation through natural selection. It is the interplay between their outward characteristics and the environment in which they find themselves, not foresight or inherent strength, that ensures their survival through time. Once you know this, you can’t help but come to the conclusion that really genes just make this shit up as they go along.

Then there are random geological and cosmic events that shape the course of the planet and life as a whole – an endless swirling and shifting series of events with (possibly) no primary cause, adding yet more uncertainly about what made us who we are.

And at the atomic level, Heisenberg stated that you can’t know the position and momentum of a particle to 100% accuracy. So if you can’t know that then how can you know everything about someone’s deeper motivations, which in turn are obscured by their own life’s events, and in turn their understanding of those same events.

Life is brimming with chance and the ever unknowable – it’s everything but perfect and absolute – and this is what we (as artists, as writers) must embrace if our work, however down-to-Earth, is to reflect the great mystery of existence.

The hard thing about this is, of course, when writing so called ‘evil’ characters (and if you’re still with me you’ll agree this is a useless term), or seeing ‘evil’ acts play out in society, trying to suspend judgement upon them is one of the hardest things we can do. If a group of guys broke into my house, for example, and assaulted me and my wife, I too would call them evil, would want absolute judgement to squeeze the breath from their throats. I too would not be able to forgive.

But we must try, because ultimately, however you think about it, there had to have been at least one Nazi who, while placing the cold barrel of his Luger to the back of the head of a Polish Jew, thought, ‘Seriously, what the hell am I doing?; there must have been one Cheka officer who, while denying a Kulak his daily allowance of bread, thought, ‘My wife is really not going to like this’; there must have been one RPKAD commando in Indonesia who, before raping the fifteen-year-old daughter of a suspected Communist, thought, ‘What if my own daughter found out?’ Then moral complexity is further muddled when we do not consider pilots of Allied forces carrying out the bombing of Dresden as monsters, do not view leaders of the Western world as having committed an atrocity when imposing economic sanctions on Iraq.

So, suspend your judgement in everyday life, if you can (and I, for my part, will try to suspend my judgement upon those who deal with sweeping, all-inclusive statements of evil), and maybe, just maybe, the characters you create may have a little mystery, may have a little of the unknown, may be dynamic enough to hold our attention until the last page.


Jason Greensides

Jason Greensides


 
The Distant Sound of Violence

A contemporary novel by Jason Greensides

WEBSITE: JasonGreensides.com
TWITTER: @jasongreensides
FACEBOOK: facebook.com/jasongreensidesauthor
GOODREADS: goodreads.com/Jason_greensides

 
 

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Hercules Gone Mad

Why We Are Here

Coming Soon

HERCULES GONE MAD: Part Two
LEAVE & Other Stories Short & Shorter


It seems that some of you may actually think this blog is now about dogs and ramen. It’s not. That post about dogs and ramen was an April Fools’ prank. This blog has been and will continue to be all about books and writing in general and Kurt’s books and writing in particular. Right on?

Write On!

 
 

Rub-a-dub-dub?! [Flash Fiction Friday Selection]

Ha ha…what more can I say about the two submissions in response to today’s prompt other than they both are frikkin’ awesome and just the bizarre fun and wonder I was hoping for. The only problem is having to choose one over the other.

I had pretty much resolved myself to the international standard selection process of the Flipping of the Coin to let Chance decide. However, right before the flip, as the coined balanced precariously on my thumb, I manned* up, so to speak, and decided that I would not choose my selection by such a cop-out of a way.

The selection had to be up to me not a coin. I had to find a way to differentiate between the two. So I got to thinking about what if it were me writing a response to the prompt. Which response would I be more likely to write – the humorous or the macabre? Yeah, you guessed it, I probably would have gone dark with this one.

Consequently, it is my pleasure to present to you…


THREE MEN IN A BLOODY TUB
by Josh Wrenn

England:

Detectives are baffled by findings of human remains found floating in the Channel. All of the dead were cut into pieces, but meticulously scrubbed clean of blood, fingerprints, and other evidence.

Lead Detective Jeff Murdock would not confirm the rumors that there is a serial killer on the loose, but did confirm that there are multiple victims.

Anonymous sources within the department tell BBC News that they believe there are at least two victims who were dismembered, cleaned, and then dumped into the Channel.

BBC News has also learned that a task force dubbed “The Butcher” has been set up within the department but has been unable to determine whether it is related to this case. We have also learned that at least one witness may have been brought in for questioning by the task force.

In other news:
The families of Westham’s famous Candlestick Maker, and his friend and world-renowned Baker are asking the public for assistance in finding the two men, who never returned home after a fishing trip. Anyone who knows anything about their whereabouts is asked to call 111.
 

myfridayblog.wordpress.com


 

Thank you very much Doug and Josh for your awesome stories. If either of you would like a digital copy of one of my selections at Amazon, please contact me through the Contact page and let me know.

And thank you to all who joined in the fun and took the time to “Like” the selections for yourself. You all, too, are frikkin’ awesome.

Until tomorrow…
 

*non-gender specific

 
 

Rub-a-dub-dub?! [Flash Fiction Friday Prompt]

You know, some of our fairy tales and nursery rhymes can really make one wonder. Well, at least they make me wonder. For instance, I really wonder what the heck the impetus was for the creation of Three Men in a Tub.

Rub-a-dub-dub,
Three men in a tub,
And who do you think they were?
The butcher, the baker,
The candlestick-maker,
They all sailed out to sea,
‘Twas enough to make a man stare.

Weird.

But weird is cool because with it there often comes such wonderful possibilities. Such as the all the possibilities for the development of interesting back stories that bring light to such an odd, interesting poem.

And that weird also brings with it the possibility for today’s Flash Fiction Friday prompt.

Write a 750 word or less fully developed story that includes who the butcher, the baker, and the candlestick maker are, what their relationship with each other is, and the events and plot lines that lead up to and conclude right before the famous and oft-recited nursery rhyme begins.

Cool?
Cool.

A couple of logistical notes before we begin. I ask that henceforth all submissions for daily prompts be in by 7PMish each evening. That way I’ll have time to read through them and publish the selection by 8PMish.

And I also ask that there be no comments or other responses to the prompts other than prompt submissions. While I always love to hear from you, as witty and interesting and smart as you are, responses other than ones to the prompt kinda muddles things up a bit and will be deleted. Sorry ’bout that.

Cool?
Cool.


This is germane.

 
 

The Happily Disgruntled Writer reflects on discipline and follow through…

The Happily Disgruntled Writer

 
 


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Melissa Barker-Simpson: Author of HANDS OF EVIL – Guest Post (A team is born)

Author Melissa Barker-Simpson

Author Melissa Barker-Simpson

Kurt kindly allowed me to hi-jack a little blog space to share my story – or at least a chapter or two. I’m sure by now you’re aware my novel, Hands of Evil, is the inaugural review in the new Indie Author Book Selection and Review feature (we really must help out with a new title!). Kurt’s Pick, The Review Challenge…something!

As you’ll be hearing more about the book (or certainly reading about it), I wanted to take this opportunity to introduce myself and give you a little background on the novel itself. I feel I should add a disclaimer at this point, because I talk about my characters in a very real sense. It’s how I see them – all the jokes about authors are based on truth; we do hear voices in our head and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

I’ve been writing since I could first craft a sentence and it has remained my one true passion. That isn’t to say I don’t have others, but writing is a big part of who I am. I can’t put a number on the short stories I’ve penned over the years, most of them aren’t worth reading, but they helped me hone the craft and continue to do so. We never stop learning and why would we want to?

Hands of Evil is probably my favourite of the Morgan & Fairchild series (though it’s only the second!). About fifteen years ago a character began to develop in my mind; a protector. His very essence is that of a soldier and he dogged me relentlessly. His name is Brad Morgan and I guess you could say he is to blame for my obsession with all things military.

Hands of Evil by Ms Melissa Barker-Simpson

When I did create a world for him to conquer, although I saw value in the end result, it wasn’t everything I expected it to be. At the time I had a young family and writing took a back seat for a while. That’s not to say Brad left me alone! He remained stoic and determined, waiting patiently for me to flesh out his adventure and commit to sharing it with the world.

My brother, whom I adore, enlisted in the Army around the time I wrote the book and we talked regularly about his own experiences. I loved listening to him describe his life in the armed forces. The more I listened, the more I began to picture the sense of family in his squad – the unity. It was a connection I hadn’t considered and I knew instinctively it was the element missing from Brad’s story. He didn’t have his family.

I’m not a planner, I never have been. I give the power to my characters and allow them to tell the story. Then, when it’s done, I go back and use every tool in my arsenal to whip it into shape; plugging those plot holes and polishing the heart of the tale. A fellow writer once taught me the benefit of giving our characters a voice, and so I wrote a piece of free-form fiction, in which I allowed Brad to talk about his team.

Melissa Barker-Simpson Website

Visit with Mel at her website mbarkersimpson.wordpress.com

He introduced me to Kelvin Fairchild, his best friend and co-founder of Morgan and Fairchild. Almost immediately, Susannah McElvogue piped up; the undisputed leader of the group. She hasn’t quit since. I retold the original story, adding Brad’s team and Sins of the Father was born. It was never meant to be a series, and yet I couldn’t walk away from them. As soon as I came to the end of the novel, Brad faded into the background and another member of the team stepped up to the plate (I know, I’m mixing my metaphors!).

I’ve always had a soft spot for Jonathan Jukes (JJ). He takes far too much responsibility on his shoulders, and his personal demons have haunted him for a long time. He’s skilled, loyal and has a strength others can rely on. It is a pleasure to spend time with him. Hands of Evil is JJ’s story.

Thanks to Kurt for allowing me to share JJ with you. I’m excited to hear his thoughts on the novel, considering he is a military man. I may even get some tips for the third in the series, which I plan to publish next year. My brother has always been a sound advisor, and I pour over books relevant to the stories I’m planning. In this case it was all things related to close personal protection and the police force.

I hope you’re still with me at this point, and if you are, thanks for hanging in there!

It was a pleasure to stop by.

Mel

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