Trust Me

I recently re-read one of our writing group’s author’s story. It is called “Coda Redux.” James, the author, discusses in his author’s notes about trust, which made me want to discuss this concept in my blog, as I did not see him cover it to my satisfaction. So, let us turn to a discussion of trust.

How does an author construct a character’s trust that is believable? What is trust and what comprises it? Psychological construction of trust in a character contains ordered indicators that lead to a conclusion in the character that trust is warranted. In other words, for a character to believably trust someone who should not automatically be given trust, there are a number of indicators which are arranged in order. When these indicators pass the test as being true, then a piece of trust is earned or given. At some point, the character will give trust. However, the less likely it is that a person should be trusted, then the more indicators will need to be proven true (or passed) before that trust is given.

Here is an example

The Principle:

Say a mother goes to an elementary school and goes to the principle’s office. A woman enters (indicator 1 = yes) Note: a woman principle is more likely to be trusted than a man principle. If it were a man, then the answer would equal “maybe.” The woman, who this mother has never met, is clean, smells good, and is pleasant looking. (indicator 2 = yes). The “principle” (I put it in quotes because we do not REALLY know if this is the principle.) asks the mother to sit down. After a pleasant greeting, the principle says that she is worried about her son. (indicator 3 = yes). The mother will more likely trust someone in authority if that someone seems to be attempting to help her son. If on the other hand, the principle says, “Your son is a trouble maker,” then the mother will become defensive. In this case, (indicator 3 = maybe). Such a simple concept. What if we move it over to a less simple concept?

The Detective:

A mother opens the door to her house and two detectives are standing there. (Note: having only one detective will make it more difficult for the mother to trust) She shows a badge which seems real. (indicator 1= yes). The detective is shown into the living room and sits down. The detective immediately starts attacking her son. (indicator 2 = No). Instead, the detective starts asking questions about the mother, then switches to the son. (indicator 2 = yes)

Remember: these are “most likely” scenarios. I cannot craft them properly without an actual story to analyze. All these things will have to be built by the author. Subtle details will help perfect in a “yes”. Clean clothes, smells nice, combed hair. But the dirty bum living in a cardboard box will not ring with truth if his hair is combed and washed. So, some factors will automatically be against you when trying to craft an unbelievable person for a character to trust. Likewise, remember that you can craft a totally trustworthy person and insert odd or unsettling indicators in that person so that trust is less likely. This helps throw the reader off. Example: the detective who was acting odd, fidgeting when I said my husband’s name. The scientist who laughed maniacally when she talked about children being safe. The colonel who requires inappropriate actions be taken.

In the end, this topic is so broad that it becomes needful to write a whole book on trust. Needless to say, most authors have enough life experience that they can craft most of the characters properly. We just need to remember to check each indicator box along the way. If further research is needed, there are many psychology books written on the subject. This post stands mostly as a reminder that believable trust needs to be earned by verifying “yes” along the way. Of course, you trust me? don’t you?

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Strained Distraction

Stories mostly spin tales designed to capture the reader’s attention so as to overwhelm the readers’ consciousness and thus become lost in the paths of the story. This, typically, is called good writing. A story that distracts and loses the reader in the mazes crafted by the writer is considered excellent writing. We all aim for that type of tale. Desiring the reader to leave reality so as to only exist in the tale, we ceaselessly work to form stories that do this. We all walk around patting each other on the backs in congratulatory praise for the best mesmerizing tales. This is of course what most stories are supposed to do.

The realization that the writer sometimes does not desire this to occur too fully presents itself to me.  What do we do, as writers, when we want our readers to gnaw on an idea or concept?  The addition of a discordant noise into the tale will cause the reader unease.  Creating the proper level of this, although a skill not readily come-by, in one’s story can have the effect of denying the reader the escapism so often sought.  Someone is jangling the cowbell outside my window and I cannot fully concentrate on my story.  Damn!  “Where was I?  Oh, yes!” becomes the leading quote of the reader, although less consciously one hopes.  We do still want our story to be enjoyable, after all.

So, in this slightly distracted state, the reader resides.  The time for the insertion of an idea, a concept, a philosophy, or “X” (whatever X is) to occur.  The brain now begins to gnaw at this.  We hold the reader in this state just long enough for this (let us call it idea for this discussion, although it can be anything) idea to sink into the brain and take hold.  What to do now?  Now, we release the reader back in to the somnambulistic state to let them, as Albus Dumbledore puts it, “For in dreams we enter into a world that is entirely our own. Let them swim in the deepest ocean or fly over the highest cloud.”

In other words, now that we have given them an idea, we must release the reader back into the world we craft for them.  We do this so that their unconscious can work on our idea.  The brain begins to mull over the idea.  Releasing them back into our world allows the unease they feel about this new idea to bleed away.  Tension release makes the idea not dangerous but interesting.  Because it is interesting, the reader will embrace it and begin to work to understand and own it.

So, after forcing the reader to think, we allow the return to the great ocean and the whale submerges becoming once again lost in the tale.  This time, though, it carries with it a packet of gold.

So, the writer must needs think on how to jangle the consciousness in just the right wakefulness if an idea/concept/thought/etc. is desired to be introduced into the reader.  There is no formula for doing so as each writer is unique.  Just the knowing of the needfulness of doing so at the right moment is all that is required.

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Too Long

I have forgotten now so many things that it seems I hant lived very long. But! My blue grey hair tells me that I have. But! My bony fingers cracked and hooked tell me otherwise. If I only knew where to begin what to do, then I could begin. Its so sad when we forget our lives like we’re wont to do when we get old? Am I old? I don’ t remember. I look about the room and see many a thing, some I even have names for, but most I don’t. I guess I am…not young, but then who is young anyway. Babies are not young they are bundles of seeking. Mydel aged folks, nah, they are not young either. Movement is their name. I used to dash hither and thither. Now, I sit here in this worn, wooden rocking chair and hum tunes to the wall. Sometimes, she talks back. She is big so big and made of beautiful natural stone. There’s someone who’s old. Hee hee hee….Lime-Lass tats what I call her. There she is now silently smiling her limestone smile at me. Then again, my watery eyes might be playing tricks. I wonder. Rubbing them, I blink over and over again trying to clear of water. She wants no part of that.

“No tears no Jack. The time has come for you to tell me another tale,” Lime-Lass says.

“Yes,” out loud to the dark silent room I shout. “I will tell another tale.”

“Will this one be true?” she asks.

“Can’t say if it will. Only just wait until it’s done, then we’ll know. Relax my love and let me tell you of the fish and boot. No, better yet I will tell you of the rock that fell from the hole in space. You like rocks. This I know.”

“Yes, I love them. They are my friends. Where have all of your’s gone?” she questions.

“Now, now no need to get like that. I don’t remember where they went. But they had wrinkled skin like me. Might be they stepped out for a bit. Rest assured they will return. They are my friends after all even if I can’t r’member their names.”

Startled, she states, “What do you mean you can’t remember their names. Are they not your dear dear friends? Have they been with you when you won that race against the sun. And were they not there to see you catch that fish the size of lif? Where have they gone?”

“I can’t remember but then that may be from age. I think I am old, so very old. But! Then I can’t remember. I hope you are ready for the tale – love.” This made her smile. “I will only take a short nap and then I will begin.”

He slept with dreams larger than life. Long time he slept. One morning he woke to the rising of the morning dew, life’s first breath of the day. The story and his stone wall love all forgotten, he jumped up and in his long sleeping gown rushed headlong out into the front all the while shouting. “Wait Tom, wait Tom.”

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Tone versus Register

I recently ran across this post. It is too good to not share. I would give credit but I couldn’t find it. Maybe, someone could point me to the original author.
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Tone and Register in linguistics

I. In Writing, Tone Is the Author’s Attitude In written composition, tone is often defined as what the author (rather than the reader) feels about the subject. (What the reader feels about it, by contrast, is referred to as the mood.) Tone is also sometimes confused with voice, which can be explained as the author’s personality expressed in writing. Tone is established when the author answers a few basic questions about the purpose of the writing: Why am I writing this? Who am I writing it to? What do I want the readers to learn, understand, or think about? Tone depends on these and other questions. In expository, or informative, writing, tone should be clear and concise, confident but courteous. The writing level should be sophisticated but not pretentious, based on the reader’s familiarity with or expertise in the topic, and should carry an undertone of cordiality, respect, and, especially in business writing, an engagement in cooperation and mutual benefit. Expository writing shares with journalistic writing an emphasis on details in order of priority, so writers should not only organize their compositions to reflect what they believe is most important for readers to know but also use phrasing and formatting that cues readers about the most pertinent information — words like first, primary, major, and “most important,” and special type like italics or boldface, but employ both techniques with restraint. In creative writing, tone is more subjective, but it also requires focus on communication. The genre often determines the tone — thrillers use tight, lean phrasing, romances (hearty adventures as well as adventures of the heart) tend to be more effusive and expressive, comedies more buoyant, and so on. Some writing guides suggest that if you’re unsure about what tone to adopt for fiction, you visualize the book as a film — doesn’t everybody do that anyway these days? — and imagine what emotions or feelings its musical soundtrack would convey. Tone is delivered in the form of syntax and usage, in imagery and symbolism, allusion and metaphor, and other literary tools and techniques, but that shouldn’t imply that developing tone is a technical enterprise that involves a checklist. Just as with mastering your writing voice (while being flexible enough to adapt it to a particular project), adopting a certain tone depends on these and many other qualitative factors. Tone can also be compared to differing attitudes of human behavior — the difference, for instance, in how you behave at work, at church, at a party, and so on. Tone and voice are two features of writing that go hand in hand to create the style for a piece of writing. The attitude and the personality — two other ways to describe these qualities — could also be said to blend into a flavor of writing. Whatever analogy you use, make a conscious decision about tone based on the purpose, the audience, and the desired outcome of your work.

II. Linguistic Register and Code Switching by Mark Nichol “Linguistic register” refers to the concept of adapting one’s use of language to conform to standards or traditions in a given professional or social situation, and writers and editors will benefit from recognizing the distinction between registers.

The five general categories follow:

Intimate register is the highly informal language used among family members and close friends, and may include private vocabulary known only to two people or a small group, as well as nonverbal cues exclusive to the pair or group.

Casual register is the informal language of a broader but still well-defined social group, and includes slang, elliptical and elided sentences, and frequent interruption.

Consultative register is moderately formal language that marks a mentor-protege or expert-novice relationship, such as that between a doctor and a patient or a teacher and a student.

Formal register is language spoken between strangers or in a technical context.

Frozen register is ritualistic or traditional, as in religious ceremonies or legal proceedings.

Various registers, therefore, are distinguished by not only by sophistication of vocabulary but also by complexity and regularity of grammar and syntax. It is vital to note, however, that register is associated not with the speaker or writer but with the professional or social environment; a person can conceivably, within a given day, communicate in each of the five linguistic registers in assorted interpersonal interactions.

A related term is diatype, which means “language distinguished by the professional or social purpose,” and is often distinct from dialect, which means “language spoken by an individual or a group,” though a particular form of language may qualify for both definitions.

The three factors in diatype are:
1. field, or subject matter
2. mode, or the form of communication (written, spoken, and so on)
3. tenor, or the participants and their professional or social relationships.

Mode is further defined by the degree of preparation — whether the communication is improvised or prepared, or somewhere in between — and by the rhetorical purpose, including expository, narrative, or persuasive.

Another term relevant to linguistic register is code-switching, which varies in meaning but for our purposes refers to flexibility in adhering to a register within or between communications. One of the most noticeable examples of code-switching in U.S. urban areas is the divergent use by black people of standard American English and Black English (appropriately, known in a more formal register as African American Vernacular English). The difference between speech among adolescents and their conversations with parents and other authority figures is also code-switching. Writers and editors must be at least subconsciously aware of linguistic register. In fiction, a given character may necessarily shift among several, if not all, degrees in a given story, and the character’s fidelity to the appropriate register in each situation will in part determine the writer’s success.

III. Nonfiction also relies on attention to linguistic register, in that a topic for one article or essay may require consultative register, while another may call for casual or formal register — and the writer must sometimes consider whether code-switching within one piece is an appropriate strategy. (You get my drift?) This discussion does not suggest that writers and editors must dispassionately analyze writing for technical adherence to linguistic register in order to succeed. But wordsmiths who recognize the distinctions will be more successful in facilitating communication in both informational and creative prose.

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Invitation to Character types

Recently, I began thinking about characters and how they develop and change as a story progresses. Some of these changes are dynamic and some not so dynamic. I want us to remember the types of characters that can appear in a story.

Here is a list.

Round
Flat
Foil
Dynamic
Static
Stock
caricature
Antihero
Antagonist
False Protagonist
Characterization
Motivation
The protagonist
The secondary Character
Third person Omniscient
Third person limited
The Detached Observer
The Commentator
The Interviewer
The Secret Character

I rarely find many of these characters in stories and am motivated to wonder where they have wandered off. Did they find greener pastures in which to play? I wonder. Maybe, they stopped caring so much and stayed home. Regardless, we need to invite them out to play every once in a while. This we may find enjoyable, and, if we are lucky, we may find our writing improved as well. So, let us hear it for the forgotten character. The call has gone forth. Will you pick up the challenge and craft one or more of them into your next tale? I will.

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Cabin

Many of you may know that I follow Candace at Moment Sketchers. She has risen once again to the challenge and succeeded. Somehow she seems to activate my internals. This time she posted a blog about cabins. After reading it click here I was compelled, which I am usually not, to write a comment. So many comments are banal. I want to share my comment and maybe expand on it.
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Here is my comment:

So inspiring, I, as a writer, am thinking about spaces as loci for creation. The cabin motif stands as one such event. Cabins are unique in that they are separated from but by doing so they unify with.

Separate from Society/ Unify with Nature
Separate from the rush of life (qua skimming stone on water)/ unify with calm reflection (qua depth of inner being)
Separate from Exterior / Unify with interior (Although here this interior also has an exterior at the threshold like a window or door).

I love the cabins I have seen and experienced and lived and merged with over my years. They are mystic places for they never stand in the midst of society but exterior to it. Moreover, the openness they cause brings forth the fountain of creativity so sought for in life and so lost to us in society. We need these places of calm reflection as much as breath for both bring life and vibrancy to us and the world. Thank you for sharing. I dream of being able to sketch to paint to draw more than stick figures. Alas my craft is words. Still, I doodle. Mayhaps that is enough.
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End of Comment.

I think I will expand on it, just not right now.

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Writers Wanted

Our writing group is looking for writers interested in submitting short stories the our Thieves World additions. If you are interested, please contact Kevin Pajak for more details.

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Thieves World installment #1

Finally, my first offering to the Thieves World universe is done. It took a bit longer than expected. Jim finished his (A Piece of Home), and I think his offering is fabulous. I hope you like mine.

Dance of Swords (Click Here) occurs in book seven (The Dead of Winter).

Both Jim and I started writing our offerings at the same time. However, mine took more revisions, which caused the delay. I actually published it several months ago, but just realized that I could not keyword/tag it as wordpress considers pages to not be tag-able (if that is a word). Jim suggested I make a blog post and use that to get the tags. So, I am.

Should you be interested in joining the other authors who are currently crafting Thieves World stories please feel free to contact me. I am more than happy to add a link to your story — If it is well written and remains true to the spirit set forth by Robert Asprin and Company.

Thieves World is a setting/universe where countless tales can be told within the confines of the twelve published works. These are all tales that should be told. I hope you join us in doing so.

Thank you,

Kevin Pajak

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Waves

How does one capture the sea?  Words have such stasis that they little serve. [i.e. have no potential/ities to *reflect that liquid flux] 

What is it that one finds so fascinating about oceans?  It seems that the mystical nature of the melding between light waves and water waves speak to us as intensities. The medium of water reveals many aspects of light’s nature.  People are forever holding this liquid up to the Li-G-ht. Holding it up into the l/I(gh)-T. The Light.  light.  To let the play of water and light bend and shift so a previously unknown facet can emerge in a way that our vision can see it.  This is not a pulling out of light one character of it.  (Rephrasing that last sentence: This does not pull out of light one of its characters.) No! This is wrong thinking.  Correct seeing understands that, when it is in water, light exists in a completely different way.  Light passes through water BUT it does more.  It plays. It sings. It dances.  It changes.  It bends reality.  It does all of this by immersion and blending, by melding and molding, by standing in the becoming flux/change.  This is the revealing play that water cha chas with light across the dance floor.  

So, how does one capture this with words?  In truth, it is possible to capture their interplay via words. The more depth and breadth covered in capturing either a moment or an aspect that has been revealed causes a **stretching in language.  It is here in this thinness where language has difficulty that light potentially falls out of language.  The mutable everchanging (i.e. Light) can only be discussed and capture in portions via language (i.e. words).  For the more one does so, the more language stretches.  At the limits of communication, language must become evermore incomprehensible to (capture) depict? Reveal… paint The Waves

Yes the waves of light and water through the medium of language can be discussed.  Alternatively, their interaction can be painted.  

Just as Candace Rose Rardon does in her watercolor.  Click Here We see in her water color beautiful, playful, emerging waves of light diving and melding with water.  
But where does that leave the word smith? I return to my initial question. How does one capture the sea? 

First we need to understand light.  Unlike the way light shines on objects natural or man made [refer to Martin Heidegger’s works], light merges and blends with water.  

So, we have to use language in new ways if we are to bring vibrancy and fullness to the sea in the ways that painters can.  It requires re-vision/ing of language.  We writers will have to demand the freedom needed to speak in these new ways. We will have to wash the readers in The Waves of words that are filled with a fresh newness.  The pounding surf echoes across time fluxing in the vibrancy of light giving the ocean depth of being.

As I watch these new rhythms of language unfold in my mind, the vision builds and I am washed away in light and water to be set adrift on the ocean. 

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* more on reflection ala mirror ala reverberation later

** I want to explore the concept of how the stretching language occurs as a result of capturing light.  Its is as if light fills language beyond language’s capacity to communicate. 

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IN-SIDE the Music!!!

It’s all about the music but sometimes you want to hear the music in side the music.  You are in the music. IN SIDE it! Can you see the streams?  Here, take this.  It’s the music music pill. It’s called Leary’s. Freak the shit out!  It’ll let you see the threads so you can reach out and strum ’em.

YEahh dude. There was this one cat who heard the seen music so hard that he died IN-SIDE his own head.

WOW! I want ta go out that way dude.

Dude!

dude….

D….u…d…e….

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