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Thursday, December 5, 2019

On Ideas and Originality

Right off the bat, this post might seem similar to my one on "Creativity," although the focus is quite different.

While in that post I was talking specifically on the degrees of creativity and what they might look like in practice, in this one I want to talk more about practical ways to actually implement creative thinking into daily writing.

Of course it goes without saying (yet here I am, doing the saying) that this type of stuff isn't just limited to writing books or writing in general, but could apply to painting, music, D&D campaigns, and any other relevant things you can think of.

Unfortunately, I haven't been doing blog posts as frequently as usual because I've noticed a steep decline in page views and comments, which seems to suggest that a lot of the people who came to the blog were just in it for the Alita posts or the first few tidbits of writing stuff and then got bored and left, but I think I'll keep writing stuff here anyway even if no one and their mother's don't read any of it. 'Cause why not ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

So pressing on, I think there's two distinct ways creative and original ideas can be formed, but let's start with the easiest way.

Flipping: "Flipping" is a term I've coined that merely means, "taking other peoples' ideas or popular tropes and flipping them on their head." The difference between flipping and out-right stealing ideas is that it actually requires creativity and thought, and yields a different result.

One example is the animated series Hellsing Ultimate. Whereas most vampire shows and movies have devolved into teen dramas, Hellsing is a classic action-horror that makes vampires actually seem pretty cool, and it utilizes the anti-hero trope really well.

Another example is the ending for The Alchemist. (If you want to avoid spoilers for The Alchemist then feel free to skip, but honestly it's a hard read and not for everyone, and the ending is really the thing that makes this book funny so most of you can probably read this in good conscience).

We're all familiar with the "old wise wizard" trope. It seems that every fantasy story insists on having some wise-old-sage character like Merlin or Gandalf and it's kinda overdone at this point. And evil wizards are also pretty commonplace and usually unremarkably done.

But in The Alchemist, an old sage puts a curse on a man, saying that all the men in his bloodline will die young, and once it starts happening, the protagonist starts panicking and spends most of the story trying to figure out how to break the curse, only to discover that the curse isn't even real and the "wizard" was just breaking in and killing them himself. It's such a funny and ridiculous take on the whole "evil ancient wizard" trope that it pretty much deserves its own category.

Another example of flipping is The Incredibles. While I certainly don't hate Marvel and DC, I don't like them all that much because all those super hero movies feel kinda bland and uninspired to me. They all feel the same and lack that intrigue or originality that I usually enjoy in films. But The Incredibles is different in that it's a "realistic" take on what it would be like being a super hero, complete with the stupid general population turning against them, being forced to take soul-crushing and "ordinary" jobs to survive, and having to coexist with regular people while suppressing anything they might have that makes them unique or interesting. A lot like real life. And one could argue Shrek accomplished the same thing with basic fantasy tropes.
Me typing up a "why bariatric surgery is important" essay for health class

The idea of flipping is to take a common idea, make it seem like "just another ____" story, when in reality it's the exact opposite. There's a lot of fun to be had with idea flipping and there's tons of really popular and common tropes and cliches that haven't had their opposites explored.

But what's another way to create original content that doesn't involve just doing the "opposite" of something?

Distorting: What is distorting? Distorting is when, instead of taking one common trope or cliche and flipping it on its head, you take a bunch of small concepts and ideas from a variety of different stories then gradually make so many small changes that the overall product is completely different. At this point, you've implemented so many different little ideas from different books and movies and so many small changes were made that none of them are recognizable anymore, and everyone who reads your story will think you're a creative genius when really you stole every single plot point from a myriad of other works and just slightly altered each of them so that no one of them was similar enough for people to draw comparisons between your story and others.

The next one is completely original ideas. How does one come up with completely new and never-before-seen ideas in fiction? Is such a thing even possible? There's 129 billion books in circulation, how is it possible with that many books for someone to come up with a completely new and original concept?

New ideas: Obviously, this is the hardest one. And the funny thing is that this is the only one where you can't actively work on coming up with new ideas. While this one is sort of the hardest, in a way it's also the "easiest." These ideas aren't ones that you can come up with while sitting there and forcing yourself to churn up ideas during a brainstorm session.



These ideas just kinda show up when you least expect them.When you're in the shower singing Chelsea Dagger and pretending to know the lyrics after the "DOO DO DOOOO DO DOO DOOO" part, when you're watching reruns of "Friends" at 11:38 at night, when you're taking a shit and contemplating the meaning of it all, when you're insastiably bored and the bedroom is too damn hot for you to fall asleep so you just kinda stare at the ceiling angrily,


when you're standing somewhere and suddenly wonder what you should be doing with your hands and whether or not they should be in your pockets, that sort of stuff. Originality in its purest form can't be taught, but sometimes if you consume enough media and stories, they'll just start coming to you. I remember the entire idea of my story came from me just randomly thinking, "What if magic was limited and people had to fight for it?" followed by me thinking, "but what if one person is hoarding it all??" and that was pretty much how the idea of Desolation's Reach came into being.

These ideas will probably have humble origins but we don't have to actually talk about those. When your book is finished and people ask you where you got your ideas and inspiration from, you can always give them some spiel about your childhood stories or whatever and you don't have to tell anyone that the idea came to you while stalking people on Facebook while you were on the toilet. You can just conveniently leave that part out.

Anyway, let me know if any of these were helpful or not, it probably came across as just "steal peoples' ideas and slightly change them" and "spend as much time in the bathroom and doing mundane activities as possible" but that was a risk I was willing to take when typing this up and I knew what the deal was, so if it came across that way, oh well.

At any rate, I'll be back sometime likely within the next week or so for the next installment of the "Dynamic Story" series (if anyone actually cares about that) so stay tuned.


And as always,

may all your cups of tea be your cup of tea,

and I'll see you in the next post.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Humor, Tragedy and the Dynamic Story (Part Six)


"I know what it's like to lose. To feel so desperately that you're right, yet fail nonetheless. It's frightening, turns the legs to jelly. I ask you, to what end? Dread it... run away from it... destiny arrives all the same. And now it's here--or should I say, I am."

-Thanos

Part Six: Resolve and Conflict

This post won't be too long (at least, not compared to my others), but I think it'd be good to break this concept into two parts; villains and heroes.

I think it's easier to emphasize these points with antagonists / villains, so we'll talk about their side of the discussion first.

If it wasn't obvious already we're going to talk about Thanos a bit, but also several other fictional characters.

The first thing to note is that, even though I mentioned villains, most of the time, these characters won't actually be villains--just antagonists. In my Villains post, we talked about the major difference between villains and antagonists / obstacles, which is simply that villains are evil while antagonists aren't evil but are the bad guys of the story anyway.

The reason why so many stories have stupid and annoying villains is because the writers don't understand the concept of resolve.

It's the reason why we get mustache-twirling villains who are bad just for the sake of being bad and have the depth of a puddle. It's also why we get stereotypical and unfrightening baddies with goons who fail to create any real tension whatsoever.

Cliche is the death of innovation; that doesn't automatically mean that any story with any cliches in it is bad, but the more saturated a story is with cliches, the more the story suffers.

The opposite is also true; if any of you have seen Season 8 of Game of Thrones, or The Last Jedi, you probably saw how trying to "subvert expectations" can lead to some pretty crappy story-telling. Trying too hard to surprise the reader with cheap gimmicks is just as bad, if not worse, than writing empty cliches in at every opportunity. Or you could pull a Hannah Montana and have the best of both worlds like Cassandra Clare to create a real shit show.


But that's not actually the focal point of this discussion, in fact I plan on going into much more detail about that in the final installment of this blog series in the next post. Right now we're focusing on the anecdote to all these ailments; characters with unwavering resolve. Now it's easy to say that, but what does a character with unwavering resolve look like in practice?

Many of you have probably already seen a million-and-one video essays and blog posts about Infinity War and Thanos in general, so maybe it's a bad idea writing about that topic, but I'm probably the only one who's going to bring The Dark Tower, Don Quixote, Wall-E and others into that discussion, so now that you know what my special twist is (surprise, it's the stuff I usually talk about!), you've got to see my unique and bona fide interpretation of it all.


So what makes a character like Thanos different than, say, your typical doomsday villain?

Before we continue I'd like to redirect your attention to this hilarious Reddit thread where they try to create the most generic villain possible.

Highlights include but are not limited to:

According to OP, the cliche villain dresses in all black, acts mysterious, and smiles smugly as he kicks puppies.

Some other things about him (or her, but let's face it, the cliche villain is a him):

Lives in a volcano or evil lair with a prison full of capable fighters who could easily be released with a lever, has easily accessible armories full of weapons and supplies, and an obvious self-destruct function that, once initiated, can't be undone, except by the competent hacking skills / bomb defusing skills of the MC who will conveniently stop the explosion 1 second before the timer ends.

He also says things like, "You're not so different, you and I," and the protagonist always comes back with, "I'm nothing like you! I don't kick puppies!"

The cliche villain kills a disposable villain to prove how ruthless he is; he has a monster that he keeps as a pet, a glorious mustache for caressing that's suspiciously well-groomed, a laughably bad imitation of a European or Russian accent, and locks the MC in an easily-escapable torture chamber with only one guard because reasons. Once the MC escapes and goes to confront the Bad Guy™, he spins around dramatically in his swivel chair while stroking a fat fluffy cat and laughing maniacally. Twenty guards / goons rush in, but of course he has them stand down and he himself stands up, walking in circles and monologuing about his evil plan, telling the protagonist everything he needs to know to defeat him but assuming he'll fail because he totally has him in his grasp and can say goodbye to his family and loved ones that he had his goons kidnap while the protagonist was busy.

Sound familiar?

But what makes Thanos so interesting as the antagonist?




I can summarize it in one simple phrase; he isn't just a person, he's a force of nature.

Whether your character is a hero or antagonist, or anti-hero in many cases, they need to be, as Thanos so eloquently put it, "Inevitable."

This is the type of character that dominates every scene they're in. When they walk into a room, they are the only thing that matters in that moment. When you can have a character with that much raw presence, they almost become inhuman and ascend to something else. To these characters, everything and everyone else is just a means to an end.

Your character needs to be like a mudslide; they don't trouble themselves with everything else that's going on in the world, they just come out of nowhere and flatten everything in their path. An unstoppable force of nature stripped of anything else.


Just watch this one short scene from Infinity War:

Notice how unreactive and collected Thanos is during the entire encounter.

When Quill points a gun at his face and threatens to blow his brains out, he's unmoving. When he turns the gun onto Thanos's own daughter, he just calmly stands there and calls his bluff. And even when Quill finally pulls the trigger, Thanos makes it so that only bubbles come out, smiles and says, "I like you," before disappearing back into the portal.

That is how you make a terrifying antagonist.

Thanos doesn't need to react to everything around him because it's the other way around; everyone else reacts to him.

To best demonstrate this point, take a character like Thanos and put them in some imaginary situation. Odds are that no matter what scenario you put them in, they're relatively unphased.

Now this just doesn't apply to villains; you can just as easily apply it to your protag or antihero and it will still work.

A phenomenal example of this is Roland in the Dark Tower series. Roland is the protagonist of the series, but in many ways he's like Thanos. He seeks only the Dark Tower and will do literally anything to get to it.

This also leads to some questionable behavior for a protagonist to be doing, such as throwing a child into a chasm to his death, but you know, whatever.

Wait a second, Thanos also threw a child--his child-- to her death at the bottom of a chasm!


GUYS, I FIGURED IT OUT! I CRACKED THE CODE!

The secret to writing a good character is having them throw some kid--or their kid, any kid, really--into a chasm to their death! That was the secret all along!

Alright, Gamora isn't a child, but when someone asks, "Does Thanos have any kids?" you'd say, "Why yes, Gamora and that robot-thing played by Karen Gillan," which clearly qualifies this logic.

Now, the thing is that if you want to use this tactic in a humorous way, you can make your character a "resolve" character, but make their end-goal something utterly stupid or, better yet, so ambiguous that even they don't know what they're looking for.

A small but funny example of this is in Fallout 4 when you meet a dumb mutant who's on a quest for "The milk of human kindness," which he thinks, according to Macbeth, will make him superior to his peers.

A more exaggerated example from the same game comes from a mod called "50 Ways to Die at Nick's," in which he brainwashes a group of super mutants into literally worshiping comic book characters, convincing them that the comic books they're reading are fact, not fiction, and that his enemies are the villains from the comic books they've been reading. He uses this to make an army of super-powered mutants that will obey his every command without a shadow of a doubt, killing and brutally murdering Nick's enemies for him because he told them that they're communist villains trying to interfere with their favorite super heroes.

Obviously, if I haven't mentioned it enough on this blog already, Don Quixote is another example, only his madness is one unique only to him, and so no other character can completely understand his juxtaposition.


Although I will steer away from Don Quixote for a moment because I've already mentioned him so many times in previous posts, and because I intend to have a section in the next post going more into that so there's no need for it here.


The thing with the "resolve character" is that it can work for literally any character of your choosing, and it allows you to bypass some writing rules if you enjoy cheating a little.

You see, one common writing rule is to write "dynamic characters," and as nice as a little wisdom-nugget as it is, a more accurate way to phrase it would be, "Write characters that evolve over time."

This means that every (recurring) character should evolve over the course of the story, especially the main character.

However, resolve characters completely shatter this rule.

With resolve characters, the characters stay exactly the same throughout the entire story, and the only thing that changes about them is the nuances of their disposition. Resolve characters are timeless; they exist solely as a sort of manifestation of whatever their belief is.

Don Quixote is the same person at the beginning of the story as he is at the end; the only thing that changes is the world around him and the characters he interacts with.

Thanos is the same throughout all of the stories he's been in, never actually changing but, rather, simply getting closer to or farther from his goal.

The same can be said about Roland from the Dark Tower series; while he is the protagonist, not the antagonist like Thanos, he is still a resolve character who will do anything to reach his goal. His emotions evolve over the course of the story, but he as a whole doesn't actually change. Just like at the start of the massive saga, he is just as determined to do anything to get to the Dark Tower in the last book as he is in the first, and while he did grow close to his new companions, he still wouldn't let them get in the way of his one singular life purpose.

With resolve characters, the characters aren't dynamic, but the story is. You take a character with unyielding fervor and resolve and put them in a variety of different and interesting situations, and in each new situation you place this character in, you're further developing their nuances and exploring their character deeper.

So even if you think you have Don Quixote or Thanos or Roland completely pegged, and can confidently say what they would do in X situation, it's only because you haven't seen them in every possible scenario, and in reality it's much harder to guess what they would do; but then, when it's revealed how they would act, you can't help but think it's perfectly aligned with their character, and blame yourself for not guessing the obvious.

That is the nature of resolve characters, and how you can make a story dynamic by using--not just dynamic characters--but static characters in changing situations.

Hope that gave you some insight into this unique concept, it's a lot of fun talking about these sort of characters.

At any rate, I'm excited to see what this idea yields and love seeing these types of characters in books, so maybe by starting a discussion about it, we can one day see this become a canon trend and not some obscure thing that I could only apply to 3 characters.

As always,

may all your cups of tea be your cup of tea,

and I'll see you in the next post.

Saturday, August 31, 2019

That Time I Accidentally Went on a Date With a Hot Lesbian (Humor, Tragedy and the Dynamic Story Part Five):

So you folks probably have some questions. For starters, I literally said in my last post that I wouldn't post anything new for awhile, but this just happened and was too funny and interesting not to share. But I'm the one who inflicts these types of arbitrary rules for myself, so I'm allowed to selectively break them at will. Also, some of you might be thinking one of two things right now:

Those that just come here for the writing advice and don't give a flying farthing about my life-story are probably thinking, It's called a "writing" blog, and this is like, the four-millionth post that isn't about writing, what gives?

While the other half that took the click-bait are thinking, Why did you spoil the ending of this story in the title? Now we already know how it ends.

And to that, I say that this long post will be broken into two parts; the first part will just be me telling you what happened, then the second half will be a super-meta analysis about this very blog post. Get your sledge hammers ready because we're going to be knocking down some 4th walls and we're going to reach unheard of levels of meta shit that the likes of this Earth haven't seen since The Dark Tower.

And I've also taken the liberty of making a rest-stop for all you truckers and lousy readers with short attention spans who took one look at the length of this blog post and wanted to nope out of here. So if you don't think you can make it all the way through this entry *cough cough PUSSY cough cough*, feel free to stop and take a break at the Rest Stop™, maybe drink some orange juice or something and then continue later on once you feel rejuvenated.

Now before I start the story, a couple of caveats; everything with this girl is good and I made sure to get her blessing before posting this (I let her read it before posting), and also, I'm gonna be telling you things about my past that I've told literally no one, so brace yourselves for that. Also, this story has a HAPPY ending, so even if I seem pretty nihilistic along the way, just keep that in mind.

Also, if you're easily offended, you probably shouldn't be reading this because this entire post will trigger you. I didn't feel like filtering myself out in this post so I make a bunch of insensitive jokes and use terms that are generally frowned upon.

(Joke time! What's the difference between an AK-47 and a social justice warrior?
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An AK-47 has only one trigger.)


For the sake of anonymity (holy crap, that word took me more attempts to spell correctly than I'm willing to admit. I misspelled it so badly that auto-correct couldn't even figure out what I was trying to say and just shrugged at me like ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ ), we'll be changing her name. I googled "lesbian names" and one of the first to come up was Kate, and according to said list, it was "ranked by lesbianism," according to lesbianism experts, who, no doubt, have dedicated their lives to the study and understanding of dykes, so I guess that clenches it.

So a little back-story: a while back, my cousin Trinity told me about this super shy girl that apparently had a huge crush on me throughout all of high school. This girl was one who I had almost every class with, was thoughtful and kind, and someone I just generally really liked and admired. And when my cousin told me that this girl--who we'll call Claire (her name was not Claire)--had been admiring me from afar for 4 years straight, I felt like a straight-up dumb ass.

Some of you are probably wondering why I'm changing her name too, and I think you'll find this amusing.

I generally don't like talking about money or web analytics because it's tacky, although I do think it's worth mentioning that some of my posts--such as my Alita Post, get literally thousands of views, while others, like my post on Charm, get like, 12, so really it's a toss-up whether or not this particular post will be seen by a thousand people or two. (Although with a title that click-baity, I'd venture a guess that it'll be one of my more popular ones.)

Anyway, as some of you may know, I sometimes share posts to Facebook and Twitter (only the ones I'd deem appropriate), and this girl Claire now has a boyfriend who just happens to be an acquaintance of mine and a Facebook friend, so that's why I'm not using her real name.

And now any guys reading this that know me IRL are going to wonder if their girlfriend had a thing for me, and that's fucking hilarious. The only thing that would make this funnier is if I posted a link to this on Facebook and randomly tagged like 10 non-single dudes I know, but I wouldn't be so bold.

It could be YOU.


That's right, looking straight at you Mr.

Anyway, what I learned from this was that I missed hints like a blind person playing cricket, and also that my preconception of women was basically completely wrong (shocker).

Anyone that's read any of my posts knows that I'm a pretty pessimistic and self-deprecating person, but I use those insecurities to project a funny and charming alter-ego for me to hide behind. Turning your insecurities into witty banter is the best thing a person can do. After all, you're turning your weakness into a strength, and what could go wrong with that? Trust me, I'm single, and everyone knows that single people give the best relationship advice. How do I know? Twitter told me so.

Sometimes you see things on the Internet along the lines of, "Someone at some point in your life probably admired you, dreamed of being with you, and wished they guts to ask you out, and you had no idea it was happening." And of course if you read the comments on any of those sorts of shower thoughts they say things like:

"--and other jokes you can tell yourself" or "HAHAHAHAHA GOOD ONE!"

Seems I'm not alone with the "Yeah right, no one would like me," mindset. It's pretty much just a collective viewpoint held by the entirety of slightly-depressed millennials and gen-z at this point.

Although I should also note that even though I sometimes say depressing shit, I'm a honker, not a doomer.

For those that don't know the difference, a doomer is this (courtesy of Urban Dictionary, the one and only canon and bonafide diction in all of the English language): https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Doomer

While a honker is this: https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Honkler

Basically, if they give up and start drinking heavily while shutting out society and generally becoming an intolerable human being because they think everything is hopeless, they're a doomer.

If they think the world is burning around them, and that Idiocracy was a documentary and not a comedy, and ultimately just laugh at how ridiculous and stupid this parody-world has become, they're a honker.

Sorry if I seem rambly, it's like, 1:00 AM, and I drank a shit-ton of coffee, but instead of making me energized all it did was increase my pulse, so now I'm tired AF and have the resting heart-rate of Michael Phelps after an Olympic swim.

I am the Michael Phelps of typing.

So yeah, I guess I am a little bit nihilistic, but I try to be more like Don Quixote than Frank Ginsburg (if you got either of those references, congratulations, you get a cookie. If you got both of them, your AI is too advanced and it's breaking the simulation, so I have to terminate you. Sorry, I don't make the rules. They're watching me).


I'm just gonna get right to the juicy bits. ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

So it all started at my old job right before I quit and started working at a local restaurant. This new girl, who we'll call Kate, as we've already established that it's an exceptionally lesbianish name, according to world-renown  lesbian-name-experts, started working there who just so happened to be a fairly attractive individual, but I didn't get my hopes up or anything because I learned a long time ago that that was a bad idea. Also, more often than not, I'd get a crush on someone only to hear them open their mouth an instantly make me lose all respect for them.

Although this does lead me to one thing that I recommend all single dudes try; next time you get a crush on a girl you don't know that well, immediately talk to her, because it's not always obvious when someone has a terrible personality and most of the time you can save yourself trouble down the road by just talking to them and realizing you made a terrible mistake.

So, along this line of thinking, me thinking she was attractive was more of an observation rather than an invitation for me to try to flirt or something. Also I don't just flirt with girls because they're attractive, I may think I'm as worthless a Venezuelan bolívar (worth approximately the same as a Gender Studies degree), but even I have standards. The general problem with living in California is that there's lots of good looking girls with God-awful personalities.

Before I continue any further, I want to clarify that I'm not one of those "MGTOW" types. I'm not saying that all women are vapid and stupid or anything like that, what I am saying is that, while there are plenty of wonderful and intelligent women out there, there's a dense concentration of superficial morons in California, and it's a bit of an epidemic at this point because the entire province of California has basically become a neo-Socialist anti-men ethno-state.

Anyway, I'm going to be honest, I had a hard time keeping my eyes off of Kate, and figured she probably caught me checking her out out least 12 times, because subtlety was never my strong suit, but then something surprised me when she appeared at my side to hand me her number.

Two things popped into my mind:

At first, I was overjoyed and slightly stunned. I had never really been asked out, especially not by a hot girl before. I'm not exactly Casanova, unless Casanova was actually a blanket troll who frequently waited until his parents went to bed so he could drink hard-lemonade and play drunk Legos alone.

I have a very... uhhhhh..... "active" imagination.
But then, I got that tingly smell. It was that smell. That smelly smell. That smelly smell that smells... smelly.

Yeah, this was way too good to be true. I'm not buying it. But then again, I had so easily overlooked the one person who genuinely adored me for 4 years straight, so maybe I wasn't so bad after all. But then again, you can never be disappointed if you never get your hopes up, right? Tough situation.

So naturally, after considering the possibility that she actually liked me and wasn't pulling some sort of sadistic prank, I had to wonder...


But then I come back full circle to "Well, what about Claire? She liked you." So I said fuck it and decided to get all my hopes and up and put all my eggs into one basket.

And then, a few moments later, my doubts were mostly subdued because she bounced up to me, looking cute as a button, and said something to the effect of, "You didn't throw away that napkin I gave you, did you?" to which I replied, "Nope, I definitely got it," and that day she gave me an over-the-top and very enthusiastic goodbye before I left, which seemed pretty convincing.

So later, I remember the 3-day rule, in which a guy is supposed to wait a few days before texting / calling a girl, so I decided to do that. But since I'm not a real man, I immediately caved in an texted her later that day.

Only something was wrong. Instead of a flirty message, I got an angry response from a bitter middle-aged man. That threw me for a loop. She wouldn't just approach me and give me a fake number just to fuck with me... right? I know a lot of girls might give out a fake phone number to an obnoxious guy who won't leave them alone, when they just want him to STFU and leave, but I never asked her out--she was the one who approached me--so I was pretty damn confused. Although this definitely confirmed my suspicion that it was all a farce from the start, which I was subconsciously trying to prove to myself because of affirmation bias.

I tried contacting her a few more times using different variations of the number she gave me, just in case she wrote it down wrong by accident, all to no avail.

And it wasn't until after I left that job several weeks later that I noticed that one digit--a pesky little 3--looked suspiciously scribbled like it could be a 5 masquerading as a 3, so in one all-or-nothing gambit, I messaged that variation of the number and, sure enough, it was Kate.

I can be fucking retarded sometimes. But I was mostly glad that I actually did have her number the whole time and wasn't going crazy, like the time a week or two ago when I spent 6 hours looking for the car keys only for my mom to find them 7 seconds later on the bar stool below where I usually put them.

So things got pretty flirty from there, when she found out that I left the job she said that it'd suck not having me there, and when she found out I was supposed to become the manager after I finished training, she said she thought it would have been more fun working there if I was in charge, to which I said, "But wouldn't that be a conflict of interest, the boss going out with one of his employees?" I think that line might have went over her head or gone unnoticed, because looking back now, her responses weren't always as flirty as I thought they were and make just as much sense in a platonic context.

Anyway, we arranged to go bowling--because bowling is fun and Casually Explained once said that it's a good idea to do activities for dates instead of dinner and a movie, because then you can focus on the activity itself instead of worrying about just sitting there and talking.

I also remember reading in this magazine that girls have very specific hints they give to guys when they're interested in them, especially if they want to sleep with them.

Of course I'm just a lovable fool so I can be completely wrong about these (please don't roast me in the comments, I'm just the messenger), but according to said magazine, when a girl wants a guy she will:

1. Dress provocatively; if she really dresses up for the date, that's a good sign.

2. She talks about sex a lot. If she brings up sex out of the blue, it's like, the most obvious sign she can probably give you.

3. She wants to share food with you. If she offers you food from her plate or cup (that is, a drink from her cup, not food from her cup, unless you were eating Cup Noodle, which is food in a cup, but Cup Noodle wouldn't make for a very impressive date cuisine, so odds are you aren't sharing Cup Noodle from a cup), she's really into you.

Again, I'm not claiming to be one of those extraverty outgoing dating-gurus or anything like that, that's just the ideas that this magazine filled my head with, and they seemed to make sense to me, but of course if you're a woman and you think these are total bullshit, it's too late to tell me that because the deed is already done.

So here's what happened.

^ You guys, probably.

I show up, 30 minutes early, as part of my brilliant plan. I brought along my enormous copy of Don Quixote, which I was going to sit around pretending to read, but then after the events of the story I am now telling you, I actually started re-reading it again after several years, and it occurred to me while reading, If I could write something 1/10th as good as this, surely I would be praised as the greatest modern writer who ever lived, comparable to Stephen King and Dickens. So what started as me trying to look all smart and introspective got me back into this awesome book, so that's cool. And if you read any of my blog posts or go on to read Desolation's Reach once it's published, and you think that I'm a good writer, you should know that I'm nothing but a fake, an imposter, and Cervantes himself is the one and only true master of this craft, and everything I say and write is essentially a cheap knock-off of his work, a shadow, if you will, and so I would encourage you to read Quixote if you haven't already, as well as Ames, as he is also just a knock-off of Cervantes, but a very convincing knock-off, so it's worth reading his work as well.

Anyway, moving on; I decided to go to this "date" (it wasn't a date lul) sans-glasses, because I've been told by every female I know that I look more handsome without them, and also I broke them and had to haphazardly tape them back together, and showing up looking goofy AF in my broken glasses would make me look like an even bigger dork than I already am, so I resolved to bowl with great precision even without the aid of vision.

So I show up 30 minutes early, that way even if she happened to show up early, she wouldn't have to sit around waiting for me, and when I get there, lo and behold, she's already there, sitting in a chair waiting for me, and much more dolled up than I expected.

A tight, black top that revealed her curves, a plaid red skirt, a choker necklace, dark red lipstick, and her hair in a ponytail.

So it was kinda like I got run over by a truck full of hormones at that moment.

Anyone that's followed me thus far knows that I'm a pretty religious guy, I take the Christian faith quite seriously and generally try to avoid getting involved with bad people, but if I'm being honest, I may or may not have had some very un-Christian thoughts about putting our Minecraft beds together.

I had a bunch of other sinful thoughts too, like holding hands and shit.

Now I know what at least 1% of you are thinking. In fact, I think I can hear one guy in the back shouting the question frantically and hoping I'll call on him.


What's that? A little louder? Oh, did I what? Did I pinch a tent?

No, I did not. (But it took a substantial amount of willpower and approximately 60% of my cognitive ability, leaving me with only 40% of my brain for talking and bowling.)

Anyway, we grabbed drinks at the coffee shop I frequent whenever I need to aggravate my nerves and summon the willpower to write, to which the amount of caffeine I drink has a directly proportional impact on how much I'm able to write (I once drank 12 cups of coffee in a 24 hour period and after that I managed to edit like 9,000 words in 2 days, but then I crashed and accomplished nothing for 5, so I guess it cancels out....?), and we both complained about the same people, which was fun.

To expand a little bit, yes, it's good to bond over mutual interests, but let's be honest... you automatically like and trust someone a lot better if they hate they same things you hate compared to them liking the same things you like. So yeah, her hating the same things I hate was pretty great.

When we get to the actual bowling, and I'm trying to keep myself from looking where I shouldn't and ruining everything right then and there, I put my name as "Blind" into the bowling-screen thingy for comedic effect, and then, after bowling surprisingly well for half the game, I resolved to win the rest of the match by using only granny-shots.

I did fucking terrible, but in a stroke of luck I managed several strikes using this abominable method, so that was good fortune.

Anyway, it turned out that she not only was attractive and hated the same stuff that I do, but she liked all of the same stuff I liked, even the obscure and weird stuff like the well-being of the YouTube community (looking at you Rewind you slimy, disgusting bastards) and the same YouTube channels that I follow, and she also liked anime, video games, and role-playing games like D&D.

Also, she mentioned sex a lot. Not her sexual experiences or anything like that, but she seemed perfectly comfortable mentioning sex frequently when talking about movies and TV shows and stuff, and she said sex so many times that I lost count and had to assume she was trying to tell me something. Then at one point when she said her Chai tea was good, she said I should try some and eagerly handed it to me to drink. She'd also shared food and stuff with me before at work while I worked there, so naturally I'm starting to put the pieces together.

She dolled up and arrived hot as hell... showed up 30 minutes early... keeps mentioning sex.... wants to share her food with me.....


I was struck with two thoughts simultaneously; the first thought was an internal high-five, and the other was an internal monologue along the lines of, Oh God oh God she's really into me, but what if she's not looking for a relationship and just wants a one-night-stand? What if she just wants to be FWB or something? Would I have the willpower to say no? Remember, I'm a good, pious Christian--


So I couldn't cave in to these sinful ways and bend to the will of a promiscuous woman, no matter how sexy or cunning she was. This was a battle of willpower, and like a married man resisting the siren-song of a femme fatale, I had to stick to my guns and say no if it came to that.

But then a rather depressing thought dawned on me; I didn't have to worry about having the willpower to say no, because I didn't even have the confidence to say yes.

*bu-da-tts!*


So after scraping my brain matter off the wall, and wondering what the catch was, eventually the date (not a date lul) ended and I was tasked with the age-old question.

Do you kiss on a first date?

She seemed really into me--I'm pretty oblivious to the hints girls give, as we've already established with the whole that girl in high school adored you for 4 years straight and you were too dense to pick up on it thing, but her hints seemed way too obvious for even me to ignore, and I had to either capitalize on that or miss my chance forever and become this guy:

Props if you get this reference, which you should, because not watching Inception is a crime.

But that doesn't answer the question, to kiss or not to kiss? I did what I thought was the perfect middle-ground, and opted for a hug and a kiss on the cheek, which wasn't as presumptuous as going for a kiss on the lips right away, and not as lame as a handshake or some shit. Perfectly balanced, as all things should be.


I mean, in my situation a lot of guys probably would have felt justified in going for a full kiss, since she was dolled up like an expensive prostitute who was willing to give the ultimate discount--free--but I digress.

But of course, being just as awkward physically as I am mentally, I misjudged my trajectory and basically kissed her eyebrow, but I thought that maybe she'd think it was endearing or something so it wasn't too bad. I'd accidentally kissed my first girlfriend on the ear the first time, so I thought that an eyebrow was a decent upgrade from an ear. To this day I wonder if it was the ear kiss that made her gay... or maybe it was my personality, I don't know.

(Oh yeah, I turned my first girlfriend gay, so that's a thing.)

Anyway, moving on.

So we both leave, I paid for a decent chunk of the not-date because I thought that was the best course of action, and she chipped in to pay for the pizza when my card embarrassingly declined (I had a ton of cash waiting for me at the bank, and wasn't actually tight on money, but of course I was at a bowling alley, not a bank--unless it was a bank that was cleverly disguised as a bowling alley--but because of Occam's Razor I should stop coming up with these ridiculous hypotheticals), which was nice of her, and then we parted ways and she said she looked forward to going out again. This was after I accidentally kissed her eyebrow, so I figured that that that probably wasn't that big a deal.

** Segment break **

Alright, so everything you read up to this point was written in a 1:00 AM stupor, but last night I drank too much coffee and it was too hot in my room for me to fall asleep, so I just didn't. It's now 6:00 AM the next day, and after lying in bed overthinking for 5 hours straight, I came back to my laptop and have resumed where I left off. I'm still pretty out of it mentally, so I'm not going to be very articulate for a while. Also my WPM has dropped from 70 to about 15, but that's neither here nor there.

Moving on, then.

So we joked a little bit and texted for a little bit (I just noticed I used the phrase "a little bit" twice in a row, but I'll leave it as a reminder of the detrimental mental state I'm currently in), and then after she sent me a funny video I sent a Minecraft thing her way, and then nothing.

After a few days I thought, Dang, she must really not like Minecraft, so I tried to get things back on track. We were talking about setting up a second date and I suggested an escape room, which I thought was an awesome idea because either you get to be brilliant sleuths who crack the code and escape to freedom, or you're trapped in a small-ish room with someone you like, so either way,



Anyway,  but then she didn't respond to my follow-up text either. It had been about a week now so I was panicking a little. I thought it was possible that she just lost interest and decided to ghost me, and it was also possible that something actually happened and she couldn't get back to me (like a lost phone, a family death, etc.), but naturally that was less likely and the timing was a little too convenient.

Then a thought occurred to me. Could she be testing me? Coincidentally--or perhaps not coincidentally,



my ex had done the exact same thing; right after a great first date, she ghosted me for a week then resumed talking to me as if nothing happened, leading me to believe that she was testing me to see if I'd blow up her phone or overreact. I'd also had female friends openly tell me that they sometimes test guys they like by doing this sort of stuff, and I remember this happening to a friend of mine too when his now-girlfriend did the same thing.

If my ex did it, and my female friends say that they do it, and my friend's girlfriend did it to him, would it be too much of a stretch to say that I was being tested?

Once I knew I was just being tested, the answer became pretty clear. All I had to do was.... nothing! How simple was that? If I just didn't say anything, and resumed conversation whenever she re-initiates it, then I pass the test. That's how shit tests work.

So I resolved not to text her again until she initiated contact. And then I further resolved to wait 24-to-48 hours to respond to the next text, that way it didn't look like I just sit around waiting to be texted all day. (I don't, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't always have my phone ready and typically responded to messages right away.)

So naturally I immediately caved in and texted her again that night, because my resolve is about as reliable as a knitted condom (soz, I know I use that once-humorous analogy too often for it to be funny anymore, but I don't have the brain capacity to come up with another witty saying on the spot like this so it's all I got).

I just said something to the effect of, "Hey, is everything good? If something happened, you can get back to me whenever you're ready," and then she immediately responded, so that threw me for a loop.

She came back with a very apologetic and sincere reply, cursing and saying that she wasn't good at confronting people, that she wasn't into men and thought it was just a hangout, and that she was sorry for ignoring me.

I mean, at first I thought Bullshit, a girl going cold and then claiming to be a lesbian is just trying to spare your feelings, but then it was confirmed by the fact that she had a girlfriend who I knew, and apparently all my coworkers knew she was gay except for me, so that was a bit embarrassing.

(Between you and me, having known her girlfriend for years, I think she could do better, but it's really none of my business~)


Now, as crushing of a blow as that is, a part of me was also relieved, because for two weeks I kept thinking, "There's no way this is real, this is suspicious." I didn't have any evidence whatsoever to back that up, but the smelly smell told me, and the general rule, "if it's too good to be true, it probably is," is something that hasn't disappointed me this far. I mean, I was disappointed whenever I ignored that rule, but never when I respected it as an immutable law.

(Did that last line sound well-written and witty? I hope so, it took all of my brain-cells to cough that up.)

That being said, what transpired is one of my favorite conversations I've had, albeit relatively short. I'll include the screenshots of the texts themselves (not all of them, just the ones I'm talking about), as a form of formality, since they don't actually add anything of value to the story and merely serve as digital proof that I'm not a dirty liar making up these fibs.

They aren't really important but feel free to read them if you want~



My mind may be mush, but I at least had the wherewithal to scribble her name out.

So at this point in the conversation I was still fairly convinced she was just saying she was lesbian to spare me my feelings.

*Or FEB, which to my understanding is just lesbianism but with more hoops; I couldn't tell you what it stands for, but according to the Urban Dictionary--the one and only true diction of the English language, a FEB is:

Noun, abbreviation; stands for "Fat Emo Bitch."

Although she definitely isn't fat, she's like, 5'2 and probably only weighs around 100 pounds, and she was very kind to me so the bitch part is definitely not accurate, but the emo part might be so maybe we can't completely exclude this definition just yet.

(Sometime around 3:00 AM this morning it occurred to me the F probably means "female," and the b probably means "bisexual" since she did say she sometimes found guys attractive, so this investigation leads me to believe that the E stands for exclusive, since she said she can be attracted to guys but only wants to date girls. Another victory for logic and reasoning. L out.)

Moving on, after confirming that she actually was in fact gay (or gay with extra steps), I told her that I was relieved, since I thought a hot coworker asking me out out of the blue was suspiciously too good to be true and I was having doubts. She said that she didn't realize how she came across as it being a date until halfway through it, and to me at least she seemed to feel genuinely terrible about the misconception and not telling me sooner. That being said, I admire her candor and honesty and think it took a lot of guts to do what she did instead of just continuing to ghost me.


At this point, I probably should have felt annoyed or completely crushed or something, but instead I felt liberated because I kept thinking that she didn't like me when the whole time it was just me being stupid and confusing a hangout for a date, which is as innocuous as a miscommunication can get. And it was obvious she had no intention of hurting me, but actually was making an earnest attempt to become my friend, and this is where I want to talk about "the gurus." I typically avoid people who claim to know everything about anything, and that's why I like Plato, because he asserted that the only thing he knew was that he knew nothing.

(Okay, that was a load of horseshit, I have no idea which famous philosopher said that. I think it might have been Aristotle, but maybe it was Socrates, hell if I know. I'd rather type this out than google it because I'm past the point of no return.)

So, realizing that I didn't have to stress about her liking me or not, because she wasn't into guys anyway, I knew that I could say anything I wanted without a second thought because I no longer felt the need to impress her.

I said that I was glad she told me, and that when I inevitably became a famous author in 10 years, I'd include a fond note of her in my memoir. I also added that if she ever got sick of the fish and wanted to swap genital preferences for a change, or simply decided that my award-winning personality was too good to pass up, my door was always open.

Of course, I'd never say anything remotely this confident to a straight woman, but of course she was as straight as a figure-eight, so that was a green light for me to stop worrying so much and just say whatever came to mind.

And then she complimented me, which made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, because I never get compliments from anyone who isn't obligated to by blood.

(I'm not saying I don't appreciate compliments from family members, I'm only saying that I never really get compliments from people who aren't my family, so naturally whenever I do receive one I literally remember it for years.)

I vividly remember in the 3rd grade--this was 11 years ago--some girl in my class said, "Nice haircut!" and then I kept that haircut for over 5 years. I think my mom was under the impression that my dad was the one making me always cut it short and get the exact same haircut, but whenever the hairdresser asked I specifically told her (or him, but let's face it, probably her most of the time), "Give me a buzz cut!" because that was the first haircut I got a compliment on.

Fast forward 5 years. I'm 16 now in the timeline. I was pretty ripped at the time, and I remember getting one particular shirt that made my muscles (pronounced muskles) look good, and then this girl named Bethany in my biology class commented, "Looking good Dylan!" After that I wore that shirt twice a week, every week. If you're a relative of mine and you're wondering, yes... it was the white Simpsons' shirt that was one size too small.

Fast forward to the end of that year, my female friend Connie compliments my writing.

A new frontier; I'd been complimented twice by girls who weren't related to me, both about how I looked, and now I was being complimented for something I did, which was far better than being complimented on looks because there's more pride to be had in what you accomplish than what you look like.

Anyway, that was about it for a while, as far as compliments go, until Kate said, "I'm sure you'll find someone better than me. You're a fun dude and you're kinda cute."

Well, even if she wasn't into dudes, I was just thrilled to be receiving the first sincere compliment I've gotten from a stranger in 4 years. If I understand correctly, girls compliment each other regularly, both in person and on social media, and they also get compliments from guys who want to get in their pants, so most chicks reading this probably wouldn't immediately understand the enormous sentiment that a compliment towards a guy carries.

So, naturally, I told her I was going to screenshot the compliment and laminate it on my wall where it can hang for all of eternity. Then, just for fun, I asked, "But what if the next girl I meet is bisexual too? Then you and I will have to compete for her, and I don't like my chances." I thought that was pretty funny, but I am biased. Although there was a condition to the compliment, which was, "If you put yourself out there," which is a big "if," but I think it was enough to give me a much-needed confidence boost.

She assured me that she wasn't into indecisive women, and then I broke the rules. Remember when I mentioned the "gurus"? Well, one thing the dating gurus like to say all the time is "never settle for being friends." Basically they assert that you should settle for nothing less than exclusive boyfriend, and if a girl wants to be friends, you just walk away.

While there is sometimes a time for that, there's no way that advice should always be taken. For example with my ex, I had no desire to be friends with her because, frankly, I didn't like being around her anymore. Not only were we not compatible as a couple, we weren't even compatible as friends. I didn't even want to be in the same room as her tbh, and the same went for some other girls who used to reject me in high school (I didn't tell anyone this, but right after my breakup, not one, but TWO different girls who had previously rejected me earlier in high school tried to swoop in an ask me out. I said no to both of them. While I know some of you are thinking, "But why?" the answer was quite simple; they didn't like me when I was available, and the moment I was taken they suddenly decided they didn't like seeing another kid playing with a toy that they previously discarded, and like a jealous child they only showed interest in me after seeing me in a relationship, and they were both kind of vapid anyway so nothing of value was lost).

Anyway, I intentionally broke this guru-advised no-friends rule. Not only was I still willing to be friends, I was the one who asked. Although I did add the caveat that I probably wouldn't want to hang out in person for a while in leu of my crushing defeat, but sometime down the line I would actually want to be friends with her. Because while it is true that she had all the qualities of a great girlfriend, she first and foremost had all the qualities of an awesome friend, and it was her intention from the start to befriend me, and why would you punish someone for making an earnest attempt at becoming your friend just because you misunderstood them?

She said she'd still want to be friends if I was comfortable with it (I am, just not done with my existential crisis quite yet), and I added,

"Hey, you know how lots of girls have that token gay friend that they don't mind being shirtless in front of because he's gay? Maybe one day we can be the inverse of that,"

and then she comically and vaguely said, "We'll see."

Then I asked if I could share this encounter on my blog and she was cool with it, although I volunteered to let her read it before hitting "publish," so everything you've read she's already seen and approved of content-wise.

I know this was a long story, but frankly I adored this entire encounter and her honesty, and I don't really think it's fair to judge her for any of this. I might of given off the impression that I only liked her for her looks or something, but I assure you that isn't the case. She has a great sense of humor and is fiercely intelligent. If I'm being honest, in the conversations prior to the ones I just showed you, she came off as intimidatingly intelligent, and I'd like to think that I set the bar pretty high (I'm allowed to toot my own horn because I also roast myself, so the ego and insecurity cancel each other out. I think I'm total garbage while also thinking I'm the best thing since sliced-bread. I honestly don't know how to describe myself other than that), so if she seemed too smart for me you know it's the real deal.


Alright, this marks The END of Part One! 

Now I hope you all brought your meta pants, because we're going to get so meta that you're going to have to invent a new word to describe it.

(I'm tired and my brain isn't functioning. Please don't judge me.)

First, before we continue, if you've read everything thus far in one session, you've probably been sitting in that one spot (unless you read standing up like some kind of psychotic deviant) for like, 30 minutes to an hour, so now would be a good time to get up and stretch, get your orange juice (I suppose other juices are fine too, like apple juice, but comparing them would be comparing apples and oranges) 

I recommend one of these cups, because they can't be knocked over, therefore you can't accidentally spill your juice on your laptop or cellphone.

Now at this point you're probably thinking, Wait, was this entire blog post just some insanely intricate long-running ad for a stupid cup? Is a sponsor paying you to say this?



Anyway, after you've stretched and gotten your juice, which you'll likely want to hold in your Insura Cup™ (lmfao jk, no one would sponsor me in a million years, that isn't even a real brand), and after getting Nord VPN and buying a class on Skillshare and razors from Dollar Shave Club, followed by the obvious follow-up of creating your very own website on Wix, and after using the discount:

fakediscount101/writingislikelife.com at checkout, you'll also be awarded with a free trial for SeatGeek and Audible.

Alright, jokes aside, at some point I should stop procrastinating and get to the point.

Some of you may have noticed that this isn't a standalone post; it's part five in the Dynamic Story blog-post series. And now you get to find out why.

So for starters, I'm going to do something different from the norm (the only norm around here breaking the norm, except for my friend Norm, who is elderly but still around here).

Normally I go out of my way to find something and then write some long-winded and poorly constructed analysis of said thing; this can be anything from a book to a movie to a TV show, etc. But today I'm going to analyze this very blog post as if I never wrote it, and we'll take a look at how everything I've said in the previous Dynamic Story posts ties into this one.

The first thing's first (duh): at the start of the post, the writer, whoever that may be, I can't seem to remember who it was, spoiled the entire ending in the title. Like what the fuck. Wouldn't it have been better to not mention that she was a lesbian in the title? That way, the readers would have experienced the story the same way that he experienced it at the time.

No, in fact that's a bad idea. This is what we talked about; the Bomb Theory, the Quinton Tarantino method.

For those who are just jumping into this post without having read the prior ones, the Bomb Theory merely states that, when writing fiction or a story, sometimes it's better to tell your audience things that the characters in the story don't know. For example, if two people were talking about sports for 5 minutes, on-screen during a movie, you'd be bored out of your mind for 5 minutes straight, since the only thing more boring than watching sports is talking about watching sports, and the only thing more boresome than that is listening to two people talking about watching sports.

But then suddenly, at the 5-minute mark, a bomb goes off! Shock! Explanation marks! Question marks!

In short, you're bored for 5 minutes and then surprised for a few seconds, because the bomb going off just came out of nowhere.

However, let's say the camera pans under the table at the start of the scene and shows you that there's a bomb with a timer set for 5 minutes. Now, for the next five minutes, you'd be slowly growing more and more fearful for the protagonists, thinking, "Stop talking about baseball you morons, there's a bomb under the table!"

You aren't changing the situation itself; you're only changing the context. Either way, the scene shows two guys talking for 5 minutes then a bomb going off and killing them. But in the first scenario it would be a boring scene that ended in a cheap gimmick, and in the latter you have a much more impactful and suspenseful scene.

So instead of experiencing the same emotions that the writer (me) felt over the course of the last two weeks--excitement, then confusion, then relief, etc., you're just shaking your head at all of decisions because you already know she was a lesbian the entire time, and by telling you, O dear reader, this fact right from the start, I've changed the entire context of the story into one that's much more intriguing to read for the first time than if you had seen things from my point of view.

This is the same technique that makes good prequels possible; prequels are generally a rare breed of fiction because they're a lot harder to pull off than sequels. After all, how do you keep the reader in suspense if they already know how it's going to end?

Well, you already know. Use their knowledge to drive up the stakes and make them mad with anticipation.

If there was a story where a guy was doing normal things, and then suddenly the world ended and he just died, that wouldn't make for a very interesting read. But let's change one detail; what if he knows that the world is going to end? Now his decisions will be entirely different, and we would want to see what he does after finding out what was going to happen.

But maybe your characters can't know what's going to happen, at least, no single one of them.

That's fine too; just selectively reveal things to your audience that none of the characters know. This is how prequels like Fate/Zero worked so well. Knowing the ending only makes each encounter all the more tragic, because you already know of the inevitable outcome.

In Desolation's Reach, I did this with the ending. Without spoiling what the ending is, I essentially revealed what was really going on to the audience about 10+ pages before the book actually ends, and so for those last ~10 pages or so the audience is just going mad waiting to find out how everything is going to go down, because they already know who the bad guy is want to see how the shit will hit the fan.


Now, obviously the Bomb Theory isn't the only thing going on in the story I just told you.

By changing the context of the encounter, I also changed how you might be perceiving Kate. If you didn't know from the start what was going to happen, you might have started to develop a negative image of her before finding out what was really going on, but by knowing what was happening from the start, it made it possible to see things--not anxiously or resentful, thinking, She's just rejecting you or She was just leading you on, but instead thinking, more accurately, You got her all wrong, you dufus.

It also changes the context of my actions. You see, where in the first scenario, where you don't know the ending, you'd probably think all of my decisions were sound and made sense, as they were explained from my point of view with the limited amount of information that I had; but by knowing the ending, you, the audience, instead see everything wrong with my line of thinking, and ways in which I obviously might have misinterpreted things.

And that is what this is all about. By taking omnipotent control of the context, you can mold or shape any event to appear however you want, and use this method to explore the complexities of your characters, just as this method was used to write the character of the Bloody Baron in the Witcher series.

When exploring the complexities of a character, you can act as a sort of news station, selectively editing the proverbial "video" to make the audience think whatever you want. You could use this to write plot twists, to undermine their preconceptions about characters introduced prior, to explore the human condition, or just to fuck with them.

In my previous post (I highly recommend, it's one of my best), I shared a section from chapter seven of my upcoming novel Desolation's Reach, and one thing introduced in this sneak peek was the Sprites, or fairies, which are portrayed as these vile, evil creatures who masquerade as innocent little women with wings.

However, the story itself never tells the audience what to think; I asked for comments and predictions, and my mom immediately said that she expected there to be a twist where it turns out the fairies are actually good, but completely misunderstood.

Is this the case?

Can't tell you. That's a spoiler.


But let's talk about two major possibilities; obviously, as stories and characters can become incredibly intricate, there are far more than a mere two possibilities, but for the sake of argument we'll say that these are the two options on the table.

Either:

A)., The Sprites are actually evil, and the protagonist only thinks they're good because he's fallen for their deception,

or

B)., The Sprites are actually good but because of the context of their situation, they are deemed vile creatures.

Let's explore how both situations could pan out.

In the sneak peek, it's said that this particular Sprite made a potion for a witch, promising to make her irresistible to the married man she was after. But instead, it makes her hideous beyond recognition.

How could this be framed as a misunderstanding? What if I simply revealed that the Sprite made a mistake, and was actually trying to make a potion that would help her, but instead permanently ruined her appearance by accident.

Now then, how could this be framed as a horrible, intended action? Maybe we could reveal to the audience that she knows exactly what she'd doing, and show her deliberately doing it incorrectly, so that the audience knows before the scene has ended what's going to happen, and that it was no misunderstanding.

In both situations, the outcome it the same--the witch becomes fugly--but changing how you frame the Sprite before the potion is made changes our perception of both the Sprite as well as the entirety of the situation.

You'll have to forgive me, but my brain is slightly fried at the moment so now would be a good place for me to stop, even if it seems to end on a bit of an abrupt note.

As always,

may all your cups of tea be your cup of tea,

and I'll see you in the next post.



Friday, August 30, 2019

Desolation's Reach Sneak Peek!

Hello everyone! I just wanted you to know that I'm not dead, I've been working intently on my novel Desolation's Reach. For those that didn't know, the entire story will be two books long and each one will probably be around ~450 pages or so.

I wanted to share a quick sneak-peek to give the readers a general idea of what the story is like and what to expect, as well as to generate some hype for the final product.

Do note that the story is already done. All 900 pages have already been written, from start to finish, and at this stage I'm just editing the first book, and after publishing Part One I will edit Part Two and publish that one shortly after. Because of this, despite the incredible length of the entire story, Part Two will probably be released within a year of the first part, since it's already written and just needs to be beta-read and edited.

I will also be accepting applications for beta readers; anyone who is interested in reading the book before it's released can shoot me an email at dylandevineABA@gmail.com. Do note that this isn't just reading for fun, but requires detailed feedback on your part.

Quick disclaimer: I do not own these images!
For a quick summary, Desolation's Reach is an epic fantasy--more specifically, a dark fantasy. If you're squeamish or can't handle copious amounts of violence and blood, strong language, and occasional nudity, this is not the story for you.

That being said, while it is a pretty dark story and borderlines on horror at times, at the end of the day it is an epic fantasy--you can expect big wars and epic battles, giant monsters and dragons, evil fairies and witches, escaped murderers on the loose, magic and deception, all that awesome shit.

So without further ado here's the sneak peek, which comes from Chapter Seven and is appropriately titled, "The Scribe." For anyone who thinks they're clever and wants to steal this idea or even copy-and-paste it into their own fantasy story (but with different names), I already have multiple beta readers who have read the story and I have digital timestamps for when this was written and saved in my Google Drive, so anyone who tries to plagiarize this will have a hard time defending their version in court if it had to come to that.

You have been warned.

(Also, since the story is already written, it's extremely unlikely that anyone looking to plagiarize me would be able to whip out an entire novel before mine was published, so there's that too.)


Cerres is the main character. Here's the sneak peek:

Edit: *Blogger is pretty retarded at times, it won't let me change the font size. I set it to "normal" then when I hit publish, it reverts back to the smallest font size for whatever reason. I tried changing it to the largest setting, I've tried deleting the entire passage and pasting it as a larger font, I've tried changing it from "text" to "heading" and "subheading," etc., but for whatever reason it refuses to let the text exist in anything but the smallest font possible, so sorry about that I guess. It's really annoying. Just zoom in on your phone or browser.*

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Knock, knock,” Cerres said after knocking sequentially on Almerick's door.

      “Come in.”

      Cerres stepped inside, grinning. “My favorite response when someone knocks on the outhouse door.”

      Almerick beamed mischievously. “A worthy jest, but I much prefer yelling, 'Come back with a warrant!' Seems to work.”

      “Damn, that one is better,” Cerres admitted.

      “You here for the scribe?” Almerick asked.

      “Yes, sir.”

      “Right here,” he said, getting up from his rocking chair and causing something to creak loudly—either his bones or the floorboards, Cerres couldn't tell. Maybe the chair itself.

      “Behold,” Almerick said, ripping a dense wool quilt off the top of a little bird cage.

      “Your scribe is a bird?” Cerres asked, confused. Then he noticed how bizarre the inside of the cage was—it wasn't like a bird cage or a lizard terrarium or something, it was actually a tiny little office, with a marble floor and a pristine little office desk and chair that could fit in the palm of your hand.

      “No, she's a Sprite. An evil little fucker, too. She generally avoids work, and she hid under the desk the second she heard me mention her. Watch.” He opened the cage door and gently picked up the tiny desk, and a little naked woman with wings was hiding underneath it, covering herself with her arms, cowering. “What are you doing under the desk? I thought I told you to finish editing my notes two hours ago.”

      She stood up in defiance, planting her hands on her hips and yelling at him in a squeaky little voice like a mouse in some foreign language that Cerres couldn't understand.

      “Of course it's your job, edits and translations fall under the scribe's duties, not just writing new material,” Almerick responded. She leaned close to his nose, berating him in this strange language and pointing her finger at him accusingly.

      “Are you insane? Of course I know that, that's the whole point of me letting you live. It's supposed to be hard,” Alermick said. “If you don't do your job I'll get rid of you and find one that will. You wouldn't want to end up like the last scribe, would you?” Almerick threatened, gesturing to the corner of the room. Cerres followed his hand motion and saw that a fat, black cat sat in the corner, licking itself intently.

      She immediately stopped her yapping and flew back a good foot to the end of the cage, shaking her head and waving her hands as tears streamed down her tiny cheeks. She said something apologetic in her native language, and Almerick nodded with satisfaction. “That's what I like to hear,” he said.

      “Ummmm....” Cerres started. “So this fairy is... what? Your slave?”

      “That's right,” Almerick said, nonchalantly.

      “And if she disobeys you... you feed her to—”

      “—the cat, that's right.”

      “Mind if I ask why?” Cerres questioned.

      “What do you mean?”

      “Why is this Sprite your slave? And why scribe work of all things?”

      “Oh... it seems you haven't gotten there, yet,” Almerick said. “Listen, I could give you a long-winded history lesson about the nature of Sprites, or I can simply warn you that many Sprites—this one especially—are absolutely disgusting and vile creatures that wouldn't hesitate to do horrible things to you or take your life. 
     It might seem like she's just an innocent little fairy, but trust me when I tell you that if she escaped for so much as a second, she would come back with a hundred of them and put curses on the entire village, killing all the livestock and luring the innocent children to their deaths, until they felt satisfied that they'd killed enough of us and went back to their hiding holes where they commit all sorts of other atrocities. A Sprite outbreak is far worse and more difficult to handle than the Saelix. At least the Saelix are predictable and come every night like clockwork, but the Sprites have an arsenal of magic spells at their disposal and often like to toy with villages by inflicting them with horrible diseases and STDs before killing them. It's a game to them, like a sport.”

      “Are they really that bad? Is there such a thing as a good Sprite?”

      “A good Sprite?” Almerick asked. “I suppose it's possible, but unlikely. Even if it's not in their nature to be vile and heinous creatures, nurture is a powerful thing, and I find it unlikely that a Sprite raised by a legion of other evil Sprites would turn out to be a dignified and honorable person.”

      “I see... What did this one do? Does it have a name?”

      “This one...” Almerick said. “No, Sprites don't keep names, they aren't human enough for that. And to be honest, that story is a bit complicated, but I'll give you the headlines.

      There used to be a witch who lived her named Aggie, she was just learning her craft and couldn't do advanced spells yet, but she was quite gorgeous and was infatuated with a young student of mine, early 20s. And the lad was already married, but that didn't stop her from trying. Anyway, she didn't have the gall to ask him for romance like a normal person, so instead she wanted to make a potion that would make her irresistible to him, and this Sprite here offered her services. She made a potion for Aggie and Aggie drank it. Instead of making her irresistible, it made her hideous and ghoulish beyond recognition, but it doesn't stop there.

      In a way, the Sprite kept her promise, because later that night she put a spell on the young man that interfered with his perception, and she made Aggie look just like his wife; and so Aggie, now hideous, but disguised to look exactly like his lovely wife, came to his chambers after the Sprite murdered his real wife, and she slept with him and conceived a son. The next day the spell was lifted from his eyes and he woke up to find the vile witch in his bed, and realizing what he had done, resolved to kill himself with the ol' rope and branch, but a curse was put on him that made it impossible for him to commit suicide, so he fled Faltedge and has never been back since. That was two years ago, and after finding out what had transpired I trapped the Sprite with an unbreakable, binding spell that keeps her locked in this cage, and instead of just killing her I keep her as a slave. Sprites don't live that long, but their perception of time is fast, so keeping her locked in here for a couple of years is like keeping her imprisoned for an entire lifetime.”

      “She really did all that?” Cerres asked in disbelief, looking back at the little naked woman in the cage. She was on top of the desk, lying on her stomach with her chin on her fingers while she smiled and batted her eyelashes at him and slowly kicked her feet back and forth behind her.

      “Yeah, and she's proud of it, too. I have them do scribe work for me because they're very knowledgeable and have remarkably good penmanship, which even I myself can't duplicate. It's like they were made to write stuff down and keep records of things, like mini historians.”

      He stopped and turned towards her, seeing the smug look on her face as she swung her legs behind her. “You sure like hearing me tell that story, don't you?” Almerick asked, and she shrugged her shoulders innocently with a knowing grin. “Evil bitch,” he said, opening the cage door and flicking her hard in the face with his finger, which was as large as her entire body. She went spiraling to the ground and her face bled quite badly just from the one little flick. “Get back to work, and get this man a detailed list of local creatures. I want it in his hands by tomorrow morning.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

That's just a little segment that I was willing to share, and once I have Patreon all set up there will be more parts and entire chapters that patrons will have exclusive access to, including parts of the next book that patrons will be able to read after the first book is published, essentially letting them read ahead into the second book after they've read the first book.

Real quick before I wrap this post up, I have the next blog post ready, but for whatever reason my last two posts got far fewer views than all of my other posts, and at the time of writing haven't gotten any comments yet.

Obviously I'll keep making content, but I don't want to make another blog post until my post about animation and the one before it in the "Dynamic story" series get at least some decent viewership. If I released another important blog post now after this one, then the last few blog posts would be buried and no one would see them, so I want to leave them near the top of the homepage until enough people have seen them, then I'll release the next installment.

What are your thoughts on the sneak peek? Do you think all Sprites are actually evil, or is there such a thing as a good Sprite? Share your thoughts and predictions below.


And as always,

may every cup of tea be your cup of tea,

and I'll see you in the next post.