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Category: Writing

Lester – Part 1

Posted in Short Stories

Lester was a little creep who had obtained super powers. He got them from an odd rock that had plummeted from the sky and landed in his back yard. The rock radiated with cosmic energy and would have gone completely unnoticed if Lester hadn’t tripped over it and subsequently attacked it with displaced aggression. The rock had done nothing to incur Lester’s wrath and the moment the boy’s skin made contact with the mineraloid, it had gifted the spoilt ten year old with abilities beyond his wildest dreams.

Lester did not deserve these powers.

The imbuement of absolute power seemed to go unnoticed as Lester continued to pelt stones at the neighbour’s cat – an average Thursday for a no-longer average child.

-5%-

“Stupid cat, why don’t you move if you don’t like me throwing stones at you? Obviously you must like it!?” said Lester.

The very next stone that Lester flung, ripped through the cat like the creature was made of tissue paper. The cat slumped over the boundary wall, it’s guts leaking out on either side. Lester stood quizzically for a moment observing what he had done.

“Stupid cat.”

Spinning on his heel, Lester trotted inside the house, unperturbed by what had just transpired.

By 8pm it was time for Lester to go to bed, but the overindulged child was not interested.

“We will not go through this exercise again, Lester!” scolded his father.

“I don’t WANT to go to bed, I WANT to play Xbox!” protested Lester.

Father and son stood in front of one another for what seemed like an eternity, eyes locked – both unyielding.

“I WANT to play Xbox!” he hissed through gritted teeth.

Lester’s squealing shot through his father’s mind like needles. Burst blood vessels in the man’s eyes caused him to relent as he stumbled off to the bathroom to rinse his face. Soon after his wife would come looking for him.

“Henry, what’s happened!?’ she cried.

That little shit son of yours, that’s what!” he scolded.

“Henry, your eyes!” she gasped.

“Yes, I know it’s my fucking eyes, was so angry…shouting at Lester must have popped a blood vessel or something.”

This was not so, and was in fact Lester’s direct doing. Though neither knew it at the time.

Yet again, Lester was untroubled by what had happened and saw this as an opportunity to get his way and play Xbox, just like he wanted in the first place. His father would not bother him again that evening, as he lay in bed nursing the worst headache he would ever experience in his life.

-9%-

It was Saturday, and Lester enjoyed nothing more than melting plastic soldiers with his father’s blowtorch, he wasn’t allowed to go near the tool but his father worked on the weekends and his mother would spend the day watching her shows. So melt little plastic soldiers he did.

The rotting remains of the neighbour’s cat had caught Lester’s eye as carrion birds proceeded to rip and pull at the entrails. Lester’s lapse in concentration at this spectacle meant that he neglected to notice that the blowtorch was spewing white hot flames onto his knees as he sat on his haunches. As Lester finally turned his attention back to his melted soldiers, he fell back, startled, thinking he had burnt himself but there wasn’t a single mark on his skin, not even a scorched hair. He rubbed his knees and legs over multiple times in disbelief but he remained unharmed – the blowtorch sat next to him idly, the torch’s nozzle stained by heat.

Panicked, Lester let out a high-pitched scream, and soon after his mother came running outside to see what had ailed her son but her concern was almost immediately replaced with anger as she saw the blowtorch lying on the ground next to her wailing son.

“What have we told you about playing with that thing!? Do you see what happens when you don’t listen, Lester!”

Lester’s mother stormed over to her son, scooping up the blowtorch – she grabbed his forearm with the intention of dragging the boy inside but recoiled with pain as her hand was immediately and inexplicably burnt, the palm of her hand bubbled with welts and loose skin.

‘Fuck, Lester!”

Her son stood idly, watching his mother writhe in pain, trying to make sense of what was happening. His mother glared at him with equal confusion, cradling her hand, she stormed inside to nurse the wound.

-12%-

That night, Lester sat in his room playing video-games as his parents argued in the kitchen, his mother desperately trying to explain what had happened that afternoon without sounding too hysterical. Her husband, tired from the toils of manual labour sat at the kitchen table, disengaged, hardly paying attention to what his wife was saying but lashed out at her after she spilled his beer while trying to show him her burnt hand.

“Jesus, Karen! Watch what you’re doing!”

“That’s what your worried about? Your fucking beer!? I’m trying to tell you something here, Henry! Something strange is happening with Lester!”

“The only thing that’s strange here is how you mollycoddle that little shit!”

“He burnt me, Henry! As soon as I grabbed his arm!”

“And this is exactly why no one but me should touch that blowtorch!”

“Damn it, Henry! I was holding the blowtorch, I got burnt when I grabbed his arm…haven’t you been listening to anything I’ve said!?”

“No Karen, because what you’re saying is stupid, clearly you shouldn’t be touching the blowtorch either!”

“Fuck you, Henry!”

Karen smacked her husband’s beer out of his hand before he could take another sip and stormed out of the kitchen. She passed Lester’s room, stopping momentarily to see her son sitting in front of the TV, still playing his video-games. For a moment she thought about approaching him, but the memory of that afternoon gave her pause as a chill ran down her spine. She continued on to her bedroom.

***

After several hours, drunk and weary, Henry slowly shambled towards the bedroom but not before seeing Lester still playing video-games.

“For Christ’s sake, Lester, shut that shit off and go to bed.”

Lester did not respond, and seemingly ignored his father.

“I’m not going to ask you again, boy!”

Still, Lester remained motionless in front of the television. A fact that only served to enrage his father even further. Henry marched up to Lester, crushing various toys that were strewn in his path, reaching out to grab hold of his son, Lester got up and turned to face his father. A split second later and Lester held both of his father’s wrists firmly in his grasp.

-15%-

“Fifteen percent, Dad.” whispered Lester.

“Wh-what are you talking about…let go of me.” protested Henry, unable to free himself from the ten year old’s grip.

“Fifteen percent…it’s the amount of power I have so far.”

“P-power!? This isn’t a cartoon, boy. You are going to get such a hiding, you have no idea what’s coming, you little shit!”

“No, Dad. It’s already here.”

Lester crushed his father’s wrists so thoroughly that all that remained were two stumps as the man’s life spilled out onto the carpet – filling the small room with the overbearingly acrid odour of blood. Taking a few steps back, Henry fell into the hallway, slumped against the wall, and bled out in moments. In response to all the commotion, Karen came out into the hallway, in a daze of confusion as she tried to make sense of seeing her dead husband slumped over in the hallway with no hands.

Karen stood silent, so petrified she was unable to scream. She managed a few steps towards her husband before her heart gave out. She fell to the ground dead, only a few feet away from the blood-covered man.

Lester stood at the threshold of his room, staring blankly at his dead parents. In one fluid motion he spun back into his room, sat down in front of the television, and continued to play his video-games…


Don’t Get it Right, Get it Written

Posted in Meanderings, and Writing

Don’t get it right. Get it written. – James Thurber (Pictured above).

 

The above quote is perhaps one of the most important pieces of advice any writer should adhere to, it’s telling you to write down your ideas regardless of whether or not it’s perfect.  Just get it down on paper or screen so that you have a framework to work with.

Your idea can be perfect but your initial implementation of that idea doesn’t have to be.  In fact, can you imagine just how long it would take an author to put out a book if he attempted to make every written page perfect each time before moving onto the next?  That’s what editing is for, so remember that.

So that’s just what I’ve done.  I whipped out my first draft for my first novel in a matter of months after a single, solitary idea popped into my head one night and lo and behold I fashioned an entire book around one key idea.  Oftentimes I couldn’t get the ideas out faster enough to the point where I had a backlog of chapters in my head, this backlog served as the perfect goalpost as the story I had to tell poured out of me like a broken sieve.  I had plenty ideas in my brain and every time one popped up I had to work out how my story would reach that point, and after enough instances of that I was sitting with a full-length book ready to be edited and fine-tuned.

Believe me when I say that having a completed draft to work with makes the experience all the more enjoyable.  Do the characters and names have to stay the same? Do their motivations and agendas need to be fixed? Of course not and I guarantee you as you progress through your novel with each revision you will go back to change things or omit something in order to make your story all the more greater.

I’ve been editing my work for almost three years now and even though a lot has changed the one thing that never did was the book’s core.  So tear a page out of Thurber’s book (completely metaphorical of course – he was a great American author), and just get it written!

Said Bookisms

Posted in Writing

I came across the term said bookism quite a while ago which caused me to re-examine my dialogue-tags and the prose that populated my work. A said bookism is a form of Purple Prose (prose that is too elaborate or ornate) where the writer goes out of his way to avoid the word said.  A person could even purchase ‘said-books’ which contained lists of verbs that one could use instead of the word ‘said’ – hence the moniker Said Bookism or Said Books. Said bookisms were quite fashionable at one point with the result that ‘said’ would be replaced by words like exclaimed, replied, retorted,  inquired, pontificated and so forth.  J.K. Rowling’s infamous use of the word ‘ejaculated’ (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, see page 242) – “Ron ejaculated loudly” has undoubtedly been taken out of context numerous times and is of course the butt of many an internet joke.  In this instance, the word ‘ejaculated’ was meant to portray something said quickly or suddenly as opposed to the image every reader older than 10 would have conjured up in their minds.

Needless to say, I was once an offender of said bookism myself, believing in fact, that I needed to supplement ‘said’ for more complicated, flowery wording to ensure that my writing didn’t become tedious. Ironically, the over usage of said bookisms contributes to tedium and actually detracts from the literature as the reader becomes overly aware of the magniloquent (couldn’t resist) words instead of focusing on the actual exchange of dialogue.

This is where the beauty of the word said comes in.  ‘Said’ is an invisible word, one which is often skimmed over when read, and that’s why it’s so important.  It allows the reader to follow the dialogue without getting caught up with complicated words that require one to pause reading in order to Google the meaning of the word in question.  So while a lot of writers who are just starting out or trying to make a name for themselves may want to try to spruce things up by using more ‘exciting’ verbs or verbose wording, this practice tends to make the writing look amateurish, especially when you consider that by using said bookisms at every opportunity, you are removing the impact of a well-placed verb that would have otherwise contributed to the story instead of detracting from it. People read books for escapism and enjoyment, not to see how well you know the thesaurus.

In closing, of course not all said bookisms are bad, and there are a few which are considered acceptable, namely ‘asked’ and ‘replied’ – which I will use when deemed necessary, but remember, the dialogue should speak for itself without the need for over-embellished dialogue tags.  Some experienced writers will avoid repetition of ‘said’ by describing the speaker’s actions and emotions through the spoken words and insert said bookisms only when they serve to enhance the delivery of the dialogue.  You will learn the do’s and don’ts as you go along – I myself, am still learning and will continue to share my findings in the hopes that these rules, tips and so forth contribute to improving that story or novel you’ve been working on.

Should you have any queries or criticisms, please feel free to leave a comment below.