Part 3 of my Science Fiction Thriller

Here is the next installment of my science fiction thriller series in which a mysterious force sweeps across the globe erasing everything made by man, from buildings, to machines, to medical implants.

***

Part 3

London, originally built by the Romans at that famous encircling bend in the Thames, had gradually migrated over the millennia until the heart of the modern city stood some ten miles almost due west from the Meridian Building as the crow flies.

Just east of the Prime Meridian Line, the observation deck had provided an incredible panorama of the London skyline from the Millennium Dome on the right to the odd pickle shaped building oft referred to as “the gherkin” on the left.  And in the center, dead on at the end of Greenwich Park, was the grand Queen’s House that we have already established could be seen as missing from the position at Seven Points.

At the moment of inception of the event, London remained initially unscathed, according to several witnesses who had been on the observation deck.  Rather, the Vanishing (in the popular vernacular) emanated from the Prime Meridian Line just west of the Dome, “disappearing” all man made artifacts right to left as it went, covering the distance across all of London in just under one minute.

A common element among those few first-hand accounts is the inability of the interviewees to find words to describe the degree of their shock as they followed the progress of the line of dissolution sweeping toward the urban center.

One moment there were skyscrapers, multi-deck cruise ships on the Thames, and traffic rolling down the streets and highways.  The next moment there were hundreds of people falling from the sky, sightseers plunging into the river, and car-less drivers and passengers skidding across the road beds before rolling to a stop, limp and lifeless.

The onlookers, for the most part, remained frozen in stunned silence as the plane of disruption moved inexorably across the land, though those who had family and friends in the Old Smoke began to scream and weep, and many fell to the cobblestones that remained beneath their shoes.

Toward the right, in a delayed reaction, two geysers erupted from the river just above the Blackwall Tunnels when the earth, no longer supported by the vanished lining, collapsed.

That, coupled with the rising wails of those who had been on the bad side of the line or had loved ones in the old city drew the rest of those on the fortunate side back into awareness, and the chaos then unfolded as has already been described from the perspective of Subject Zero and those around him.

As horrific as it was, this eye witness experience did provide the first hard bit of data about the event: it was not something that had happened over a fixed area like the radius of a bomb blast, but something that was still happening: a process with a speed and a direction.  It was, in fact, hardly more than one minute from inception until the leading edge of disruption had completely crossed the Old Town and disappeared over the horizon.

You can read the entire series on your Kindle or in paper back on Amazon:

A Science Fiction Thriller | Part 2

Here’s the next excerpt from my science fiction thriller series, Man Made:

***

Approximately .25 km into the event zone, at a place in Greenwich Park where seven walking paths converge, some of the dispossessed had heard the helicopter and looked up expecting help, only to see the craft’s dissolution.  For the briefest of moments they had remained transfixed, unable to grasp what they had just seen.  And then the cries of those around them jolted their attention back to the nearer pathos.

Greenwich park had been a favorite destination for the local population where they might enjoy the open greenery away from the noise and congestion of the city.  Children, parents, grandparents, dog owners, lovers, and lovers of nature would stroll through the manicured woods and commune with a slower god than the one worshiped in the urban realm.  And this particular day, being the summer solstice, the park had attracted much larger crowds to celebrate near the meridian at noon.

Of these, many were writhing in agony, especially those elderly folk who were now absent their hip and knee replacements, many of whom had fallen hard.  Those less affected, were comforting them as best they could, being near shock themselves as their minds recoiled.

Dogs sans collars or leashes ran wildly, driven into a frenzy by the screams of their owners.  Some, of a more aggressive nature, tore into others of their kind, and one attacked his master who had previously treated him poorly.  A few ran off into the woods, but most remained by the sides of those they loved, whimpering pitiably.

Babies in buggies had fallen to the ground, though none were seriously injured.  One infant being carried in a backpack, however, had hit a rock and was no longer moving, his parents stunned, grieving, and holding his limp body tight against their naked ones.

Please note that this report does not include the most graphic descriptions of the injuries, nor linger on the horrendously painful emotions suffered by the victims.  Only the minimum details necessary to convey the magnitude and depth of the tragedy are documented, so that we might better prepare.

A hill stands between seven points and Royal Observatory grounds, which includes the Meridian Building, so the people at that intersection in the park could not see that buildings and clothed people still existed there.  In the opposite direction, to the north, the Queen’s House complex should have been visible in the distance, but it was gone leaving only a patch of raw earth.  This offered a real possibility to the gathering that the entire world had been cast into this condition.

Those who had come to the park alone and were at least relatively uninjured were the first to work past the initial shock and began to ask one another what had happened.  Of course, no one had an answer, though some began to speculate that it might have been anything from a judgement of God to an attack by aliens or perhaps the resurgence of magic in the world.  But again, reasoning was difficult after such an experience especially being surround by the sounds and sights of continuing suffering.

One man, physically fit and in his prime, set off toward Observatory Hill, having considered that the helicopter had existed after they themselves had been struck, so perhaps help might be found in that direction.  Another slightly less fit man followed him, striving to keep up.  An able-bodied and young athletic woman began to jog in the other direction toward where the Queen’s house had been, in the hope of finding assistance toward the city at large.  But by and large, most of the people huddled together, staying close to their loved ones, and believing that their best chance of rescue was to remain where they were.

Please note that the entire park scenario just presented is taken from a single account from the only known survivor who claims these as his experiences.  There is no reason to doubt his story, though being uncorroborated the details likely diverge in the specifics.  Still and all, this and the accounts to follow provide our best insight into the personal experiences beyond the more logistic overviews already well-covered in several substantial studies and volumes.

The healthy man soon arrived at the top of the hill, closely followed by his less-toned companion.  There, they saw that half the Prime Meridian Building and all other edifices to the west were missing.  Those who had been on the second floors of the vanished buildings had fallen some twenty feet from their offices into the cavities where the basements had been, and almost all lay writhing with one severe injury or another, begging for help.

The view back toward the west was blocked by the trees on the hill, but ahead, the buildings, and more important, the observation deck remained intact.  Slowly working their way, barefoot, from the raw dirt  and then up along the cobblestones and stairs, they both strode with purpose and dread toward the view point.

As they reached the line of small telescopes that had been placed there for the amusement of visitors to the park, they stopped in their tracks.  Looking west across was expanse of forest and green, patches of exposed earth were littered with thousands of tiny dots, moving ant-like, where London used to stand.

The athletic man dropped to his knees like a marionette.  His companion shuddered uncontrollably and wept openly.

***

Read the entire series on Kindle or in paperback:

Man Made – A Sci-fi Thriller | Part 1

Here’s part 1 of my new sci-fi thriller series, Man Made:

The First Hour

The morning that it happened there had been no warning, at least according to virtually all credible sources among the survivors.  Naturally, there were those who claimed, in retrospect, to have seen signs that might have provided advance notice.  But those accounts, it has been determined, are likely nothing more than instances of pareidolia, not unlike the perception of images in the shapes of clouds.

What is almost universally accepted is that it began on the summer solstice at precisely 12:00:00 GMT in Greenwich itself, on the prime meridian that ran, at the time, through the courtyard of the old Royal Observatory in London.

When the sun is at its zenith, the clock is set as noon, and many of those on holiday have stood with one foot on each side of that line of demarcation so that, in an odd twist of the original phrase, they can be photographed being in two times at the same place.

Multiple witnesses have confirmed that a tourist (his name is not known, so we shall refer to him as Subject Zero) was straddling the two-tone steel ribbon embedded in the cobblestones that denotes longitude 0’0’’0’’’, and it was at that exact moment when our star reached the apogee of its arc across the sky that it occurred. 

Just before, all was as normal at it can be at an English destination, and in the next instant, everything changed.  Subject Zero’s sister, who was standing in the previous hour, snapped a commemorative picture, then stared at the frozen image on her screen, unable to process what she saw there.

Shaking herself loose from that impossible visage, she raised her eyes to gaze on her brother who, indeed, was still astride the meridian, fully clothed on her side of the line and fully naked on the other.  It appeared as if he was wearing half a suit of clothes, severed vertically down the middle.  Those who later examined the clothing reported that it appeared as though it had been cut with a laser, so straight and fine was the edge of the separation.

Subject Zero himself, focusing on presenting a foolish expression for his friends back home, was momentarily unaware that anything was amiss.  It was the combination of his sister’s shocked stare and the slight breeze tickling his windward side that caused him to look down, freeze in incomprehension, then leap back away from the meridian, toward his sister.  Jostled by his movement, the clothes on his leeward side fell off, leaving him fully exposed, but also offering the first indication that, other than his pride, Subject Zero was unharmed.

Before either of them could begin to parse what had happened, their attention was jolted to shouts of alarm, mostly coming from beyond the meridian on the leading-hour side to the West.  There, the scene was an experiment in chaos.  Everyone, as far as the eye could see, was completely naked, looking frantically around in terror, and beginning to run toward the trailing hour side where everyone was still clothed (except, of course, for Subject Zero).

Those that crossed the line did not regain their clothing, and those that ran across to help the others lost theirs, as well as their purses, wallets, cameras, phones, jewelry, tattoos, dental work, and breast implants.  In short, any material object that had been fashioned at the hand of man had simply ceased to exist.  There were cries of shock from some and cries of fear from others (though strangely, no immediate expressions of pain).

Perhaps the most unfortunate of the lot was the chief gardener for the Observatory grounds who ran across the event plane to assist those in need and almost instantly dropped dead on the spot from an apparent heart attack.  It was later confirmed that his pacemaker had simply vanished from his chest as the passed into the affected area.  How this was determined will be addressed in the appendices to this report.  For now, we must consider even more momentous diversions from the norm.

Initially, of course, everyone was focused exclusively on their own well-being or that of their family and friends.  There were, however, a few independent and/or lonely souls who had come to the grounds by themselves.  With no one else there to hold their attention, they were the first to look beyond themselves and notice that it was not only personal effects that had vanished, but the buildings, walls, cars, and roads were all missing as well.  There was little time to speculate, however, as those who had already recovered their wits were on the move en masse on both sides of the meridian.

The terrified throngs on the event side of the line rushed forward like stampeding cattle, seeking refuge among those whom they could see on the trailing side who were still in the world has it always had been.  They were almost mindlessly driven to seek protection or a reconnection with their kin who were frantically waving them on or, for those who were more forward-looking, by the concern that whatever had happened was just the beginning of something even worse.

Regardless of their motivations, they charged forward, but with the pavement missing as well as their shoes, many of them fell in front of the frenzied crowd as they stepped on sharp rocks or tripped on stones or hobbled themselves in gopher and mole holes that had lain under the road unseen.

As they fell, they were overrun by the mob behind them, and in short order the multitude was swarming over the growing human breakwater to the horror of those whose loved ones were near the bottom of the writhing heap.

Those on the normal side now saw the tsunami of humanity press forward.  The first to project the likely outcome began to back away from the line, then turned and ran toward their cars which had been parked in the overflow lot, mostly.  Attracted by the commotion around them, others made the connection as well, and soon there was a second wave also crashing over anyone who fell before them, no long considering themselves more fortunate than the terrified souls in the oncoming crush of naked bodies behind them.

At some point the slowest of the clothed were overcome by the fastest of the naked.  Those with tendencies toward hypochondria worried that the afflicted might be contagious and tried to beat them back with cameras, purses, and all the other accessories they possessed that might be repurposed as weapons against those who had lost theirs.

Those struggling against the flow to reach those dear to their hearts were picked up by the leading edge of the wave and pressed backwards against the  Prime Meridian Building, a museum deigned to be bisected by the line, and as the swirl of humanity circled ‘round it like water in a river encountering a boulder, those terrified souls eddied around the side to discover the edifice had been severed along its midpoint leaving nothing on the leading side but a footprint in the soil where it had once stood.

In an office on the second floor of the unaffected part of the building an administrator had been gazing out toward the meridian when the event occurred.  He had turned away in disbelief, shaken his head, then returned his gaze to discover that everything was still missing.

Finding his voice, he had called to his associates who joined him at the window and verified what he had seen.  Being this troubled modern age, the first assumption was that it had been some sort of terrorist attack, and so a previously choreographed plan was initiated by the designated safety officer for the building.

While one clerk ran to lock the door, another called the nearest constabulary to report the incident.  Receiving no signal and realizing the phone service may have been disrupted in the area of the damage, she entered the secondary contact number, which went to a station on the untouched side.

Naturally, the officer on other end of the call assumed it to be a prank, sternly threatened arrest, and hung up.  Soon, however, a flood of additional calls prompted him to send a car to investigate whatever it was.  This radio traffic was monitored by a local news crew and reported to their station, which dispatched an already airborne helicopter to provide live video.

Outside, the crowd moved on, primarily toward the parking lot and the associated public transportation connections where some had already started their cars and sped at a dangerous pace toward the exist.  Perhaps two dozen vehicles made it out before the first collision occurred, which prompted several more in succession until the path was blocked completely.

Some tenacious drivers chose to set off across the lawns and over curbs in order to connect with the open road, while others raced around in circles, looking for a way home.  Due to their state of mind, a number of those running for their own cars were struck and some even killed on the spot.  One naked man from the event side arrived at his car only to realize he no longer had his keys.

Of the score of cars that had gained the road, roughly half had their homes or accommodations on the normal side of the line and sped off toward them.  The other half, realizing they might no longer have a place to stay, called relatives to arrange refuge, soon discovering no connection to any numbers toward the west but reaching their startled relations toward the east.  A few escapees simply set off cross country on foot to put as much distance as they could between themselves and what had just happened.  Others just crumpled to the ground, too shaken and dispirited to do anything further to help themselves.

Above, the news helicopter buzzed onto the scene, banking to linger on set shots of the chaos to be used in the upcoming live broadcast before flying on toward the Prime Meridian Building that early reports coming into the station identified as ground zero of the disturbance.

Turning sharply to set up a reveal shot for the switch to live, the “Eye in the Sky” flew just above tree level toward the historic monument from the east side, rising up above it at the last minute until the full expanse of the disaster could be seen stretching out toward the horizon.

The landscape looked as it must have millennia ago: rolling hills, some wooded, and the Thames rolling its way to the sea.  Across the expanse, hundreds of naked people were running or crawling or wandering aimlessly in circles.

The news crew, though hardened by years of covering devastating situations, was stunned into silence and, without thinking, powered on right past the building, and over the meridian line.  As it passed, the helicopter and all the gear inside were simply erased as they crossed the event plane.

All that emerged on the other side were the pilot, the cameraman, and the newswoman, still in sitting position, fully nude and without any means of remaining aloft other than inertia, which quickly diminished in the face of friction from the prevailing wind.  Comprehending their plight at almost the same moment, all three frantically flailed their limbs as they described a perfect ballistic path from some two hundred feet elevation to their impact point on the ground.

***

Look for the next part here soon, or read the complete first volume in the series on your Kindle for just 99 cents or for free with Kindle Unlimited at:

Black Hole and Cricket Harmonies in Slow Motion

Try playing the following two video clips together – it’s absolutely mind-blowing.

Years ago I encountered recordings of crickets slowed down hundreds and even thousands of times that sounded like a spiritual chorus. I was so impressed I bought the album and still listen to it for inspiraton to this day.

Then, just this afternoon, I discovered someone had “sonified” the data from a black hole and it sounded like the crickets, only more of the bass/baritone section complementing the tenor/soprano insects.

I don’t have the tech to bring them together directly, though I’d love to, but here is each video from YouTube embedded. Listen to a bit of each one separately, then start the crickets from the beginning again and start the black hole at the same time. It is both other-worldly and this-worldly.

Now here’s a disclaimer. A sound engineer analyzed the crickets and presented his findings in the following video:

So, there is some truth and some manipulation to the cricket sounds, AND the sounds of the black hole are sonifications of data, meaning that the energy fluctuatons were converted to audible fluctuations, but the key and the spectral spread were adjusted so they could be heard, meaning that it is somewhat interpretive as well.

Nonetheless, it is all based on nature, just as many movies are “based on a true story.” In other words, take the grain of truth with a grain of salt.

Does snapping your fingers break the sound barrier?

Quick answer, no. Your index finger is only travelling about 20 miles per hour when it hits the base of your thumb, while the speed of sound is 767 mph. So, what you hear is essentially just a skin on skin slap.

But, if you want to break the sound barrier in your home, just snap a towel. Like a whip, the end of the towel flips around to change direction from forward to backward faster than the sound barrier.

Now isn’t that amazing! You can’t drive your car faster than perhaps 1/7 the speed of sound, Your model rocket kit will only hit 1/3 to 1/2 as fast as sound. Even your jetliner flight across country tops out at 6/7 of the sound barrier. And yet, just grab a towel and snap it and you’ve created a sonic boom in your bathroom (the best echo is in there).

Family Stories

For decades I’ve been plagued by the fear that when I’m gone, all the family stories that I know will be lost – all the little narratives that illuminate who people were and, more important, how they were.

I’ve ended up with all the material effects from five families, including my own, as I inherited the possessions of my mom and step dad, grandmother and grandfather, great aunt and uncle on my grandmother’s side, and great aunt and uncle on my grandmother’s side. These fill two to three dozen moving boxes, each with hundreds of papers, photos, collectables, souvenirs, mementos, awards, and memorabilia, and almost every one has a story behind it.

Here in my sixty ninth year, I have finally become so worried that these wonderful tales describing not just dates and places, but the nature of those who came before me, both those I’ve known and others even before that whom I have heard about from those that knew them, will cease to be. In a sense, I feel as if all these beloved and unique people will then cease to be as well, far more so then when they gave up the ghost.

And so, to assuage this nagging sadness, I have recently taken it upon myself to preserve those narratives – all the family stories I know from experience or had related to me.

To this end, I have begun opening each of the boxes, one by one, under the eye of a video camera pointed down into the memory treasures. In short sessions I pick up the first item, and share what I know about it and the people to whom it was connected, describing not only the object, but weaving in special memories I have of the people I have loved and lost, and even wonderful moments from those still with me when an item touches upon them as well.

I had tried before to put these stories in words, taking pictures of each material thing and speaking about it in essays and even collecting these in books. But who wants to read such material in a technological world such as this. And, it also lacks the immediacy of discovery, part way through my monologue, of some previously lost memory that puts passion in my voice as I rotate the object for the camera and reminisce.

I have done one session already, and I feel so relieved – that is the only appropriate word – that everything I shared on the video is now part of our family history, and those particular stories shall not be lost to time. I am eager to continue, knowing that each session brings those people alive again, as I knew them or heard about them, as if they were fictional characters that live on screen in a movie, for that is where the passion can be felt, and even those who never knew them nor even previously had heard of them can be enriched by their smiles, moved by their tears, thrilled by their triumphs, and saddened by their tragedies. But most of all, these magnificent spirits will live on in the hearts of those who live today, and of those not yet born who can say, “these are the people through whom I myself have come to be.”

Is Your Antagonist Also Your Influence Character?

The Antagonist and the Influence Character do two different things, but both of those jobs can be given to the same person in your story.

The Antagonist fights against the Protagonist over the goal; The Influence Character fights against the Main Character’s morals or philosophy.

When the Antagonist and Influence Character jobs are done by the same person, the story tends toward melodrama because both the plot and message are anchored in the same place, muddying the waters so that it is hard for your readers/audience to follow the plot and/or understand your message.

Similarly, the Protagonist and Main Character have two different jobs.  The Protagonist tries to achieve the goal and the Main Character tries to solve the moral or philosophical issue that is causing them disquiet, angst,  or difficulties with others.

Full-on melodrama occurs when the Protagonist is also the Main Character AND the Antagonist is also the Influence Character.  Then, both the plot line and the message line are completely on top of each other, and the points you are trying to make are all mixed up with each other, losing the details and creating a much more “primary color” story than one of depth and shading.

Most often, those two parallel story lines, the plot line and the message line, are pried apart at one end to separate them, creating a Dramatica Triangle.  So, the Antagonist is one person and the Influence Character is another.  But, the Protagonist and Main Character jobs are still done by the same person.  This creates the typical Hero at the anchor point who is trying to defeat the Protagonist in the plot and also prevail against the Influence Characters in the message.

In Dramatic Triangle stories, the Antagonist is often the Bad Guy or Villain, and the Influence Character is often the Love Interest, or someone the Hero loves, as in a child or someone he wishes to protect.  The Antagonist tries to stop the Hero and the Influence Character tries to argue for, or represents value standards in conflict with the Hero.

In the end, the Hero must choose to stick with his values  or adopt those of the Influence Character, and how the Hero chooses (often in a leap of faith) determines whether the goal will be achieved or not.

And to make matters even more dramatically tense, you can have the Antagonist put the Influence Character in danger and arrange a dilemma for the Hero so that he can only save his Love Interest if he violates the Love Interest’s value standards, thereby losing their love, or he can hold to the Influence Character’s value standards and lose the one he loves.  The message is, which is the right choice?  And the proof often comes with a surprise boon of success if the Hero chooses properly, or with a surprise failure or cost if the Her chooses improperly.

Famous Influence Characters are the ghosts in A Christmas Carol, Obi Wan Kenobi In the original Star Wars movie, and Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs, who pressures Clarice Starling to let go of her angst and ultimately asks her over the phone, “Tell me , Clarice… Are the lambs still screaming?”  Clarice, the Hero, chooses not to give up her angst and still suffers for it into the future.  But, on the plus side, it is that angst that drives her, which helps her solve crimes and protect others, so it is a good choice for her good works, but a horrible choice for her own peace of mind.

Finally, sometimes the plot and message lines are completely split, as in To Kill A Mockingbird.  In this story, the Protagonist is Atticus, the lawyer in a small southern town in the 1930s trying to get a fair trial for a black man accused of raping a white girl.  The Antagonist is the girl’s father, who wants the man lynched.

But the Main Character is Scout, Atticus’ daughter, and the Influence Character is Boo Radley who she has always presumed to be a dangerous child-killer, buying into the town rumors.  Turns out Boo is simple-minded but good hearted and has been protecting Scout all along.

When the father of the girl tries to endanger Scout, Boo stops it and saves her.  And scout comes to realize that she was wrongly basing her feelings about Boo on hearsay.

This makes the story’s message point.  That any of us, even a child, can buy into prejudice, and it doesn’t have to fall along race lines.

So, in this case, it was important to separate the plot line to run in parallel to the message line, rather than anchoring them together in a Dramatic Triangle, in order for the point to be made.

NOTE: This has been an excerpt from my upcoming book on characters. You can read samples of all my published books on my author page on Amazon.

Developing Your Characters’ Points of View

Here’s another excerpt from my upcoming book, Some Thoughts About Characters.

Developing Your Characters’ Points of View

Although you may have a clear plot that you have created from the position of author, it is going to look quite different to each of your characters, depending on their particular situation and tempered by where they are coming from and how they see the world in general.

Now your characters aren’t going to be thinking about the plot the way you do. They can’t even see that there is a plot. Rather, they see their situation and have attitudes and feelings about it – some modest and some passionate.

They do their best to understand what’s going on, where things are headed, what their options are, and what they might try to do to bend things more in a favorable direction for themselves and/or those they care about.

Your story will become much more involving if you can convey all your characters’ different perspectives, including information about why they feel that way, what they want, what they don’t want, and even how they feel about each other.

This information can be doled out over the course of your story – a little bit each chapter or act. In this way, an air of mystery envelopes each character and your readers or audience are drawn eagerly forward to learn more about these people that they are becoming attached to.

To begin this process, review what you have developed about your characters and your plot. Now stand the shoes of each of them in turn and write a first person description of how they see themselves and their situation, perhaps telling us about their hopes and dreams, but most of all, let them tell you about their place in the story and what it looks like to them, in their own words and through their own voice, mannerisms, and attitudes.

Here’s a couple of examples from a sample story of mine – a comedy about 105 year old man who was just elected sheriff in an old western town besieged by a gang of cutthroats:

James Vestibule – The New Sheriff

You’d think at 105 I’d be entitled to some peace. But NO! I was born in 1765 when there was no US of A and served in the Revolutionary War. Fought in the War Of 1812 too, and met my good friend Francis Scott Key. In fact, it feels like it was one war on the heels of another. First as a soldier, then as an instructor, and finally as an informal adviser in the war between the states. Too much experience for them to let me be, I suppose.

I had always reveled in the patriotism and glory, but this last conflict left me sour – brother against brother – father against son against grandson (oh, my dear beloved Jonathan). And I think it was that – the loss of Jonathan – that tore me and my wife Armoire asunder. My son, Jacob, had sided with the Rebels, and he was a hard man, even cruel at times. His son Jonathan joined up with the Union. One day Johnathan came home on leave to visit us on our family farm in Kentucky, not knowing Jacob was already there. Jacob just saw the uniform and shot him dead. Once he saw it was his son, he turned the gun on himself and we lost both of them that day.

Armoire and I were cut with such grief we couldn’t even talk, and in short order we divorced. I left her to go out west and try to find some peace in my remaining years. But no sooner do I get here but they thrust a badge at me for the honorary position of sheriff (due to my military experience) and now I have to attend meetings, sit in that rat hole of an office from time to time, and coddle the drunks, cheats, and ne’er-do-wells. Fine life. Honestly, I was still dreaming of that ranch Armoire and I had always wanted, but under the circumstances, I guess that really is just a dream…

NOTES: Okay – this has clearly taken a more dramatic turn than I intended in a comedy. Can I use it? Don’t know yet. Sometimes a good dramatic foundation can enrich a comic character by giving it more depth than simple superficial laughs. You can be sardonic, cerebral, philosophic, and ironic. And in the end, you can make their dreams come true, adding a feel-good experience and a sense of relief to what would just have been a simple comedy if the dramatic depth had not been plumbed.

One thing is sure. This character inspires me.

Let’s try the same thing with a really minor character in my story and see what happens:

Nancy Lacy – Blacksmith

They made fun of me as a child. Mancy Nancy they called me on account of my size. And then I’d bash ’em in the face and they wouldn’t call me that no more. But truth be told, there’s a big difference between how you look and how you feel. You think I dreamed of a life as a blacksmith? Well, you’d be right. I did. I just love bending metal to my will. I love bending anything to my will. But don’t let that fool ya… I only do that to make my life genteel. I have iron daisies over my mantle, just above the 12-gauge.

I pretty much keep to myself, aside from clients – ‘cept for that new sheriff. He’s just so sweet. He sees beyond my looks and can tell that beneath it all, I have a heart of steel.

NOTES – Okay, a potentially comic character here. She needs more development and I can probably write some good material standing in her shoes. But, she doesn’t strike me as having the potential to be a major character at all. Nonetheless, I can see calling on her in the plot from time to time, and even perhaps a touching comic scene when she quenches a blade with her tears.

And that is why this exercise of having each character write about their situation in your story in their own words in first person is so important.

The whole point is to get to know how your characters see themselves, their lives, their role in the story and even how they see each other. Your story will be the richer for it.

You can read samples of all my published books on my Author Page on Amazon here:

https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B0744CGDLV

What I Know About Narrative | Part 1

Here’s the opening salvo in a new book I’m writing called What I Know About Narrative.

Preface

For almost thirty years I’ve wanted to write the definitive book on narrative. This isn’t it.

Though I co-created the Dramatica Theory of Story with my partner Chris Huntley, which was hailed as rather revolutionary (and I don’t mind saying so myself), after that herculean three-year effort concluding in a text-book style documentation of the theory and interactive software that employs the theory to predict perfect structure, I have become so burned out on single-purpose processes that I no longer have the discipline to do a proper job of it.

Still, I am in possession of Great Secrets of Narrative – what it is, where it came from, how it works, and how to use it both in the creation and analysis of fiction, and also as applied to personal interactions and social movements in the real world, from whence it originated.

Therefore, I have abandoned my previous desire to carve a little niche in history with some dry technical tome, and you are stuck with this instead.  Good luck.

NOTE: New sections of this book will be posted here as I write them. You can browse all of my fiction and nonfiction works on my author page on Amazon.