Geoff OBrien

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(approx. 3,000 words)


The Suit held out his hand to Sam. “Want it?”

Further down the street, André sat on pockmarked bitumen, huddled in his ragged jacket. He watching them from his particular murky spot of Penthouse Street – ironically named, André had been informed, because it offered some of the best spots for this part of the city, and because it’s street signs were stolen by bored kids years ago. By this time of night, chill winds raced through the street like illegal hot rods, scattering the street’s ‘residents’ to the warmer shadows beside or between run-down and condemned buildings. André’s spot was provided by a concrete and bitumen niche, in between an apathetic corner store past it’s retirement age and a smarmy burger joint with a gunshot-riddled window. The odours wafting from the latter’s bins curdled or aroused André’s stomach, depending on whether he’d eaten for the past day or not.

Safely draped in shadow, André spied on The Suit peddling his crap to Sam, André’s brother up the street.

The Suit was a hard young man, or a soft older man, who was actually wearing a sweat-stained sleeveless shirt, basketball shorts and joggers. Nevertheless, he acted liked like a suit, same as the other suits and skirts who walked to and from the train station down the street on weekdays. In the middle of a frigid night on Penthouse Street, however, this particular Suit had briefly stopped for a breather from jogging.

Yeah, right. If The Suit was out jogging, then André was selling gym memberships – maybe André could offload one to this guy and earn himself a pre-trash meal for once.

What was The Suit doing here? Working over the temporary-cum-permanent residents of this bitumen and concrete cave? Trying to blend in? He’d have pulled that off better with a red nose, clown makeup and floppy shoes. André had made him half an hour before he’d jogged around the far corner and down the street. The Suit’s attitude and the way he carried himself was all wrong.

People around here, they… meandered, shuffled, lacked purpose. Even standing still, The Suit came across as hurrying, as though late for an appointment with his banker or mistress. Above him and Sam, a busted street light randomly flickered on, intruding like a bored beat cop.

Laying in The Suit’s hand was a shiny electronic device – a phone, maybe. It’s smooth screen reflected the street light overhead until that light snuffed, though not before André saw The Suit suddenly take back his offering, pulling it away from Sam’s outstretched hand.

What the hell sort of mean trick was that? Was The Suit giving the thing away or not? Not, apparently, because The Suit said something then abruptly walked away, still holding his offering. Scanning the street up and down, he paused, then changed course, crossing the street, angling toward André. Mounting the kerb, The Suit squinted, spotted André, then approached.

He held out his hand. “Want it?” The open hand – yes, it was a phone – was level with André’s face.

What’s the catch?” André asked.

The grim arrangement of The Suit’s lips were too flat to be called a smile. “Good answer.”

What’s that supposed to mean?”

This is yours.” Unbidden, The Suit crouched to place the phone on André’s thigh, startling him, whose first instinct was of being groped. The too-smooth object immediately slid down one side of André’s thigh. He snatched at it by reflex, trapping it against his leg. What was The Suit’s game? A sting? Or was he a gangster, hoping to set up André as a mule or fall guy?

André inclined his head at Sam, who was watching. “Why give this to me and not him?”

You had the audacity to question. He did not. Not only had he expected his fortune, as if already promised, he acted annoyed because I’d been late in delivering it.”

What a humanitarian. André let the phone drop. It clattered on the bitumen. “Maybe I’ll give it to him anyway,” he said, hoping to provoke the asshole.

If you wish.” The Suit didn’t move off his haunches.

The dismissal startled André. “You don’t care?”

I did say that the phone was yours. Do you expect me to dictate what you should do with your jacket?” The Suit pasted on a polite smile. “That said, may I make a suggestion?”

André swallowed the temptation of his own sarcastic suggestion to the man, whose unwavering eyes revealed little. “It’s a free country.”

The Suit’s flattened lips parted and widened to resemble a genuine smile. “You may well discover the truth about that firsthand.”

What is that–”

I wouldn’t sell or give that away, if I were you.”



Why not?”

It’s a modified knockoff. It can take pictures, make calls and send texts only to specific numbers, and can do little else of consequence.”

Curious despite himself, André picked up the phone to examine it. It didn’t look as useless as it sounded. This time, André couldn’t resist sarcasm. “So I can’t use it to while away my lonely evenings watching porn?”

The Suit’s smile faded. “It can’t even access a web site, let alone… that.”

You didn’t put any data on it?”

It can’t use data, not as you’re thinking of it. Don’t waste your time or money trying.”

Something in André’s mind prompted him to set the phone down. This encounter was progressing from weird to alarming. What was Sam doing? Still watching them? Good. André was beginning to wonder if he’d need a witness. Or help. Whatever The Suit’s game was, André was becoming less inclined to play.

André was only recently homeless, after being fired from his probationary customer service job. His ex had taken this badly, cleaning out their jointly owned bank and credit card accounts, then kicking him to the kerb. He’d resisted, arguing about waiting until he’d found another place – a temporary place at least – to stay. Her new boyfriend and his brother had persuaded otherwise.

Even so, André was lucky compared to most of this street’s denizens. He wasn’t chasing butterflies like Sam or strung out like that twitchy guy down the street. André had managed to sweet talk one of the cute job centre girls the next block over, convincing her that he could push a broom and lift boxes. Once he was lucky enough for someone to reach down and drag him closer to the ladder, he could hang on to the bottom rung by himself for awhile until he was ready to hitch himself up another rung or two. All he needed was half a chance.

Such as someone giving him a free phone?

André sighed. This was either a really good idea, or a really bad one. “You still haven’t mentioned the catch.” He reached for the phone.

Not a catch so much as an opportunity to earn a little cash.”

André pulled back his hand. “Well, that’s a relief. Silly me, worrying that this might be illegal.”

The Suit retrieved the phone instead. “I won’t insult you by pretending that there’s no risk involved.” He held it out again. “I’m essentially offering you the equivalent of a minimum-wage job, plus chances for more remuneration, depending on how reliable, enthusiastic and creative you are.”

You act like a gangster,” André mumbled, “but talk like a politician.”

“‘But’? I resent that.” The Suit chuckled. “I’m an honest ‘gangster’, not a dishonest one.”

Whose side gig was comedian, apparently. “Get to the point.”

Certainly.” The Suit tapped his thumb to the phone, causing it to flash on. “It’s easier to demonstrate, if I may…?” He extended the unlocked phone a bit closer to André.

Fine.” André accepted it. “Now what?” The Suit directed him to tap on the phone’s photo album icon. The next screen displayed a screen full of picture thumbnails. Many of them displayed scenic views of hills, snow-capped mountains, clouds, oceans. The rest of the thumbnails showed headshots of old, distinguished-looking white guys. Every picture, whether of scenery or white guys, also featured a few lines of text, not quite readable at thumbnail level. André glanced up in silent query.

The Suit impatiently waved him on.

André tapped on a random picture, one of the scenic ones. The text was a… quote? Huh. Interesting, though not very practical for André. He accessed another picture, one of the old guy ones this time. Another quote, same subject as the first. “What the hell?” Why should Andre – or anyone else in this street – care about that sort of stuff? “Is this a joke?” Maybe it was, some sort of prank. Keeping his head still, André’s eyes flicked around, half expecting to see another guy pointing a camera or another phone at him.

That’s your job, if you choose to accept it.” The Suit raised his hands. “I’m explaining, I’m explaining. First, find some means of producing readable printed copies of those pictures. I suggest a public library, but you may do so however you wish.”

What do I do with the printouts?”

Whatever you want, so long as it’s public. For example, you may wish to stick them up somewhere for other people to see. Once you’ve done that, or something similar, take a photo of what you’ve done using that,” he pointed at the phone.


To get paid. Any photo you take with that will be automatically uploaded to a private computer network. Assuming the photo shows what I’m asking, you’ll receive a certain minimal amount of remuneration per photo taken.”

André allowed himself a second to catch up. “Minimal?”

If you’d like more rewards, take more photos of more of those pictures, used in different contexts.

How many?”

As many as you want. For even more reward, try being a little… creative with your pictures. For example…?” He glanced about, trying to think. “Ah.”

André began to look where The Suit was looking…

until The Suit reached behind his back.



A gun?

André scuttled back on his ass, trying and failing to find his feet.  The Suit held something flat and white – a folded piece of paper. No gun. André released his tension in a long, soft sigh.

The Suit – unaware of the angst he’d created – unfolded the paper, revealing it to be a copy of one of the phone’s pictures. “Observe.” He stood and moved toward the grocery store – or rather, to the street light beside it – to paste the picture against the street light’s metal pole. This just happened to be only a few feet away from a community board nailed upon the grocery store wall. Tacked on the community board were several notices, including one about a bias hotline for hate crimes, and another appeal to ban a book about abortion.

The printout must have had glue or double-sided tape on it. The Suit stepped aside, showing off his achievement like an artist with his newest painting.

Cute,” offered André.

And profitable. Take a photo.”

André shrugged. No reason not to. He rose.

Make sure you include both my picture and community board beside it.”

Yeah, yeah.” André aimed the phone; played around with it some. “It’s done.” Probably.

Excellent.” The Suit sauntered back to check. “That’s good.” He directed André back to the home screen then pointed at another icons. “Tap on that.”

Okay.” Another app started loading.

This, my newest freedom fighting friend, is your crypto wallet.”

The nickname didn’t comfort André. What was a crypto wallet? Some sort of electronic or phone version of a physical wallet seemed to be a safe guess. “And?”

See all the zeroes?” The Suit folded his arms, self-satisfied. “Watch.”

They both watched the phone’s screen, in fact – André doing so in a way that allowed him to keep an eye on the Suit, who was acting more jolly all of a sudden. Was he high? If the man sidled any further in to André’s personal space, he was going to get his precious modified phone returned to him more uncomfortably then he’d expect.

Something flickered on the screen, drawing André’s eyes back to it. The last few numbers had changed. Still mostly zeroes though. A feeling of disappointment surprised André, inadvertantly caught up in The Suit’s enthusiasm. “That’s all?”

The Suit seemed to be expecting a more favourable reaction. “That’s your payment, yes.”

This? This is, what, two ten-thousands or whatever of one cent?”

A small fraction of a bitcoin,” The Suit corrected.

Bitcoin? André had heard of that, though he didn’t know too much about it. “So?”

Think of it like a different currency. Tap there. See?”

Another number, preceeded by the more familiar dollar sign, appeared beneath the first number.

Five dollars thirty-six,” André read.

Indeed. At today’s exchange rate, five dollars equals that much bitcoin.”

Someone sends this… bitcoin,” André sought to confirm, “after I take pictures of those pictures.”

You got it, champ. Payment for proof of mischief.”

I can’t spend bitcoin.”

Actually, you can, also by using that phone. Some shops around accept bitcoin. Check around. If you can’t find such, other methods exist. Check the phone for more details. In any case, that’s how you earn your next meal. The more photographs you send of pictures that you’ve printed out and used, the better your life becomes.”

Until someone catches me in the act at this con.”

The Suit offered a conspiratorial wink. “Pro tip: this job is easier if you avoid the authorities, well-meaning though misguided as they unfortunately are. That phone’s hardware and software is complicated and untraceable. If you’re caught, you’ll take the blame, not me or mine. That’s one of your conditions for accepting this phone, by the way. And, believe it or not, our little agreement isn’t intended as a con.”

Prove it.”


{Fine Print}

You asked for it, friend. Sit down and pay attention, because here comes the fine print. Come on, sit. That’s it. Your office could do with some new furniture, if you don’t mind me saying. Anyway, if you violate one of these or get caught, chances are high that that phone gets remote-wiped, thus forever terminating this chance to not only improve your life, but perhaps everyone else’s as well, eventually.” He kept talking… and talking, dominating the conversation for the next little while. André felt like he was back in school while The Suit lectured his conditions for André’s ‘employment’.

No defacing private property. Public property only. The Suit pointed at the picture he’d slapped on the street light pole, emphasised how he’d put it there instead of anywhere on the walls of the grocery store. “Though I’d pay you extra myself to see one of those stuck on the walls of some bureaucrat’s office or car,” he joked.

No repeated pictures, or too many pictures taken in too confined an area. Devices in the phone and algorithms in the phone software could detect that. “If you stuck a second picture beneath that one over there, for example, you won’t get paid for the second. Let’s aim for public impact rather than graffiti, shall we?”

How many pictures is too many?”

Use some common sense.”

One picture per city block?”

The Suit clucked his tongue. “Knew I’d picked the right man for the job.”

The Suit’s mood encouraged André to indulge in his curiosity. “What’s in this for you?”

Let’s say that I’m part of a social organisation, conducting a social experiment. You and I aren’t the only ones negotiating agreements like this tonight. Or ever.”

More people handing out more phones? To pay people more money to make and take pictures? “How are you paying for all that?”

Creative accounting, my friend. Your tax dollars at work.” The Suit winked. “So to speak. On that subject, you may note another perk of this job: no taxes.”

Sounds shady,” André heard himself say. That may not have been the best idea.

The Suit only chuckled. “I did warn you that I’m an honest gangster.”

Implying that André would become the same? He decided to keep that question to himself.

The Suit must have sensed André’s doubt. “To paraphrase a popular saying, one person’s public offender is another persons’s freedom fighter.”

You expect me to fight?”

Not in the way you’re implying.”

Not reassuring.

Relax, friend. Take inspiration from our armed forces, honourable volunteers risking their lives to protect us and our rights from threats foreign and domestic. Meanwhile, me and mine have detected another serious problem, a growing problem, a threat to our livelihood. Inspired by our armed forces, we’ve decided to combat this threat… in our own way. One of the first steps for this is recruitment. Every general needs an army.” The Suit rose to his feet. “All set? We’d both enjoy some sleep, I’m sure. The longer I stay here, the more likely you and I may have to answer awkward questions.”

André still held the phone in his hand. Why not try this scheme? If only once or twice. See what happened. He could always trade or give away the phone if he got spooked. He decided to get up as well, for some reason. Idly considering what he held, he noticed the picture on it. “One last thing.”


André pointed at the picture that The Suit had pasted on the street light pole. “‘…protect unpopular speech’?” he asked, quoting part of it. He checked the picture on the phone. “‘…freedom from interference by the government and nothing else’.” He scrolled to the next picture – this one was different. “‘Censoring hate condones haters to censor you’,” he quoted verbatim. That particular picture featured an arrangement of apparently dead human bodies to resemble the last word. “Are people really going to care about any of this?”

The Suit’s eyes challenged André. “Why? Do you have any better ideas?”


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Sorry it took so long for me to read this.

You sure are creative. I love it. :) 

I like how you created a mystery and fed small bits of information until an explanation was complete. And I like the attitudes your characters have as they interact. 

If you don't mind, I have a few comments, suggestions, that I believe would increase the impact of the story on the reader.


A. This comment is about something I have noticed in your style from the other things you have written. I, as reader, have a hard time making the buy-in to the story. I have to force myself to keep reading in the beginning rather than go straight into the story trance (which is ideal). You are good at starting in media res, so to speak, but some elements are so vague, it's hard for me, the reader, to shift from myself and my context out here in reality to the story in there.

So here is what I suggest.

This first suggestion may not seem like much, but it will clear up most of your buy-in trouble with your reader. You need a little more theatrical detail when you start. One of the best forms of creating a theatrical frame I found came from a guy named Jack Grapes in some exercises he calls "image moments." He teaches to give the reader action, interrupt it a moment to do a close up on the situation, then go back to the action. 

But for what I am talking about, interrupting action is for later. For what I observe in your style, just the elements of the close up of the situation will do when setting up the story. I get it, you do not want to bore the reader with static details at the start. But little to nothing does not give the reader an image for his imagination to hang his hat on. 

And that is why I find Jack's little list of things to include so valuable. Each element hits a different part of the brain and makes it super-easy for the reader to "be there" in the scene.

There are seven elements to include.

1. Set
2. Set dressing
3. Prop
4. Mood
5. Character
6. Costume

1. The Set is the overall space where the scene takes place. This is a space that the reader has to be able to visualize. Inside a room. Outside in a farm pasture. On a city street. And so on. Think of it like the wide shot of a scene in a film. 

In your opening, you wrote: "Further down the street, André sat on pockmarked bitumen..." When I read that, I wondered, further down the street? What street? The only hint you gave me was coal. :) 

I believe that is not a good question for a reader who is just starting to read a story. That really takes away from the action and mystery, which are the elements that hook the reader into a story trance. I believe it is better to mention that there is a street and describe it a bit. Not too much, but just enough for the audience to see the set where the action is going to take place. It can be shortly after mentioning short action, or before. Both work just fine.

2. Set Dressing, in Jack's language, is a large thing or things that are inside the set. For example, a tree in an outdoor country setting. A piece of furniture in a room. In your case, on a city street (I presume it is a city street), a car parked somewhere. A street lamp pole (or an power line pole). A storefront. Things like that.

3. Prop. This is something that fits into the hands of a character. Jack wants it to be no bigger than a deck of cards, but a gun works just fine for me as prop. Or a bouquet of flowers. Even a bag of groceries. In your case in this example, you have a good prop, a cell phone.

4. Mood. This is a sensory response to the environment.

Eyes: Is it light or dark so much you would notice it?

Ears: Are there general sounds like the tide coming in or out, machinery grinding, a train chugging along, grasshoppers chirping? Things like that.

Smell: Is the character delighted by the smell of fresh bread coming out of an oven, or is his stomach turning from the stench of a corpse?

Touch: Is it hot or cold out? Humid or dry?

Taste: This one, to me, is harder since you have to get the environment into the character's mouth. But if you zoom out one level in the imagination, it's easier. For example, the air was so thick, it reminded the character of too much foam on a glass of beer. Or the gloom the character sensed made him taste the bitterness of his own bile.

5. Character. I don't have a strong image of your characters. I know they are there, but they are mostly abstractions for too long at the moment I, the reader, am trying to get to know them. I came across some really good advice once from a pulp fiction writer (I no longer remember his name, but I can look it up if you like). He said when introducing a new character, give two static visual details that define him or her well, and one typical movement. With emphasis on typical. (For instance, not the Suit jogging. :) )

Also, it's a good idea if the reader has a sense of the character's sex, age and demeanor. You are good at letting the reader know about character's demeanor, but it would be more impactful, and remain in the memory for far longer, if there were some of these other things right as the reader was seeing the character for the first time.

6. Costume. This is the character's wardrobe. The clothes the character is wearing. It's easy to go overboard on this one, or underboard, but it helps the reader visualize the character if the clothes are normal, extravagant and flashy, nondescript and bought off the rack of a low end department store, and so on. And if there are green sparkles on the blouse, fancy steer images and a gun leather-worked on the boots, and so on.

You mentioned Andre's ragged jacket, and that works, but it could be better by being more specific so the reader can get a good image on first contact. Colors are good to mention here, but once again, not too much. Maybe that the jacket was brown and beige, high-end, although now dirty with the right sleeve torn. If done that way, it would be a great metaphor to indicate André's current state of mind (if that state of mind is what you want to convey).

7. Comments. These are the opinions and emotions in the mind of the focus character about what is in front of him, around him, or what he is reacting to. You do this well already. For instance, you have André wondering why the Suit seemed like he was jogging, but was not really. I have no idea what jogging has to do with the Suit, especially since in my experience not many people jog in suits :) , but it is good André thinks about it and is uneasy about it.

Whew! :) 


If that seems a lot, Jack gives exercises where you only use three of these things in making an image and do it in 20 words or less. I find that too extreme for my taste and only useful during conversations to provide a touch of color, but it's worth doing a few like that just to get the image muscle working in the brain.

At any rate, I imagine you get a lot of feedback from people who seem to be perplexed at times by your stories. This image technique will cure about 90% of that problem when you introduce the story or a new scene. You don't need to do much of this when you return to a scene, though.


Also, there is a brain thing I want to mention. The short term memory in general handles 1 to 7 items at a time. After that, it goes into a coma. :) The sweet spot for normal short-term memory is 2 to 3, maybe 4 at times. So if you are describing an item of Set Dressing, if you include 15 details about it, you bore the reader and spit his attention right out of the story. And if you include no details, it's hard to get the reader's attention focused on the story in the first place.

In going through this list, for me, the standard I use is: "Less is more," but keeping to memory sweet spots and making sure the things I find worth presenting are impactful, unusual, incongruent, in general things that call attention to themselves. Some normal things are good since you need the familiar with the new. (btw - That is the secret to virality). But the brain will go to where the newness is, unless nothing is familiar. In that case, the brain will think about something else or go to sleep.


B. I did not get any sense of what your focus characters wanted, neither André or the Suit. Our brains track a character's desire automatically, on autopilot. The Suit in the beginning wanted to give someone a cell phone and it's OK, I guess, to leave it that vague in importance if you are using the Suit as a kind of foil, but in that case, it would make a deeper impact if André wanted something really bad to contrast this vagueness.

I get the impression André does not want to be played. And he is curious. And that's OK as characteristics, but not as primary motivation. Does he want some specific money and sees the Suit as a mark who might have it? Does he want to be alone because he trusts no one and he is irritated at the Suit's intrusion into his desire? Does he want to stop being a street bum and is looking for a job he can do? The Suit offers him this, but I did not get the feeling he wanted it badly.

Anyway, I suggest you deepen your characters' desires, make sure they are not being met, and the reader will follow along just to see what happens. The stronger the desire (for something specific and physical), the more the reader will be hooked.


C. Thematically, if you are going to use Bitcoin as a device that will help fight the powers that be, you should set that up with foreshadowing and hints in your descriptions or wherever you can sneak something in without calling attention to itself. For example, when describing the street, you can mention a detail like rare plants along the sidewalk that are dying. They look like the product of too much money with too much political waste. Or have André muse that, even with the paltry money in his hands, sometimes it doesn't keep up with the price hikes of the bread he buys.

Things like that. In other words, if your theme is going to involve a wider social message, the social trouble should be embedded in some form in the set and set dressing, even in the mood, and it should be present on a personal level for the characters. That makes the message feel organic and right when it appears.


D. I perceive you trying to keep the reader interested by slowly feeding information to him about something interesting until it becomes clear. That is a great technique, but remember that this involves curiosity most of all. If you do not goose the reader's curiosity by calling attention to the incompleteness of the thing, to how incongruous it is with normal stuff, and so on, just feeding details gives the reader, or at least me, the feeling of: Am I missing something? Am I reading poorly? What is this about? I do not get the feeling that I need to find out and this is urgent for me.

On a side note, you can really go off the rails with Rand on this with "Who is John Galt?" if you think the question is the thing. In this case, the reader already knows who John Galt is. So Rand was not goosing the reader's curiosity muscle about the question itself. She was goosing the curiosity muscle of what Dagny and others will do once they find out who Galt is. And what will happen. What this question means in general. Notice I said what the question means, not what the answer is. That is what provides the sense of anticipation. This is far different than wanting to know who killed the stiff in a mystery. :) 

In your story, you need the reader to want to know what the thing is. For example, in the beginning, you poke at this almost by instinct by having André ask himself about the Suit. But when he gets to the phone, you mention that the phone only contacts certain numbers and things like that, but I do not get a feel about why I, the reader, should care. And then there is an odd task to do with the phone. I am not invested in that task or what it means. It's only something someone mentions that I do not understand very well.

Hidden persuasion triggers help clear this up. For example, you could have André mention that there is a critical secret in this phone and tasks, one that will change the world. Or make André stop becoming a bum. Or something like that. (We humans want to know secrets.) Or that this phone and tasks will give André some kind of power over a problem he has. Or even help destroy what is destroying society. (We humans want to feel power.) Or that this phone and those tasks will put André in touch with a group of people just like himself. (We humans want to belong.) 

A quick list of Blair Warren's 7 hidden addictions in the mind is useful for this. A hidden addiction is something that will make the mind immediately perk up and focus on it when it appears--no matter what the mind was thinking about before. Blair's 7 hidden addictions are:

Being right
Scapegoating someone or something
Feeling needed
Learning or knowing secrets
Being accepted or feeling understood
Feeling power.

If you add one or more of these elements to something you want to dribble out, you can keep your reader's curiosity going for the long haul until you pay it off in the end.

One or more of them would even add a lot of weight to your final question from the Suit when André asks why people should care: "Do you have any better ideas?"



Anyway, that's enough for now.

I hope you find this valuable. I am not presenting this to show off or criticize just to criticize. I believe you have lots of talent and I think some of these tools will help you fashion it so you get a stronger impact on your audience and get wider acceptance.

Also, please keep writing.

Not everybody should,  but you should...



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Thanks for taking the time and effort, not only to read, but to comment so comprehensively.  I do appreciate both those things and your encouragement.

After considering your feedback, I’ve added some brief reminder notes to the story’s file.

Posting the odd short story to OL has proven to be an interesting experiment so far.

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  • 2 weeks later...


Something occurred to me and I hope it hasn't affected your writing.

I know me on both the personal side and the universal side, so I am going to assume you are similar on the universal side.

After receiving criticism like I just did, that can be an inspiration-sucker. Lethal. Buzzkill doesn't begin to do the concept justice. (I know this from personal experience. :) )


So I want to share a video with you from a screenwriting dude I like a lot, Glenn Gers.

He talks about 2 kinds of writing: creating and shaping.


I made the following mistake more often than I like to admit. I let my shaping mind get in the way of my creating mind.

Creating is a little more than making a first draft.

Creating is making raw brainstorm drafts of sections or overviews of the entire thing you want to create. Or let yourself create. Want an ugly term? Some call it vomit drafts. :) 

This means getting in touch with that place inside of you that produces things on its own, and letting it loose. No criticism. No editing. No restrictions. No nothing. Just letting it flow out.

Shaping is another animal. And it's a bit broader than rewriting. It means taking what you created and molding it into a story. Or some kind of form. Something that you (or others) can recognize as more than blurting.


I fear I may have inhibited your creative side with too much emphasis on the shaping side. If I did, that was not my intent. And, frankly, I don't know how to fix it if that happened other than to say, like Glenn says, "Aw shit. Go write something." :) 

(Glenn doesn't say the "aw shit" part. That's me. :) )

During the creative phase, nothing matters other than pumping stuff out. If it's great, wonderful. If it sucks or, worse, mediocre, that's wonderful, too. It's a piece of you and it deserves to be written down, even if it never becomes more than that.

When it becomes more than that, wonderful again. But that's not creating anymore. That's for the other kind of writing. Shaping.


So back you go to your desk. Write, my man. Write.

You know you want to...



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Your thoughts are always welcome.  Thank you.

With all due respect, however, I have self-published four novels and (basically)drafted four others.  Notwithstanding valid and thoughtful criticism, any 'buzzkill' you provide shrinks to insignifcance compared to an undiscovered and/or apathetic readership.

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