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Comicality last won the day on October 20 2012

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About Comicality

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  1. Comicality

    MaryGary Sue

    I have to be 100% honest here... I had NEVER once, in my entire life, heard the term 'Mary Sue' used in any writer's discussion, ever...until "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" was released in theaters a few years ago. Never. Not once. Since then it has become this weird 'buzzword' that a lot of people have weaponized to use as a criticism in a variety of stories, movies, and comic books, and while I don't really use it myself I think it is an attempt to point out a certain flaw that authors may run into when creating their characters and building an engaging story around them. I do wish that it hadn't become such an insulting way of describing a character, but I suppose it all depends on who's using it, and why. So this weekend, I'd love to take some of the venom out of the term, and have an open an honest discussion about the concept of a 'Mary (or Gary) Sue' character in our stories online. To begin...what is a Mary/Gary Sue? What does that even mean? And how do you spot one in whatever story you happen to be reading or writing at that particular moment? Well...basically, a Mary/Gary Sue character is someone who is written to be absolutely flawless. Perfect beyond the suspension of disbelief. They're always super strong, and super beautiful, and super smart...they almost never lose, they have everything going for them at all times, and they barely have to lift a finger to make any situation in their lives come up roses. Just...frustratingly free from any real challenges of any kind. In other words....'boring'. Oh you can have an EXCELLENT story going on around them the whole time...with action and romance and intrigue and all the sprinkles and ice cream scoops that would make for a great reading experience...but a boring protagonist can drag that awesome story right down into the dirt with them if you're not careful. Simply adding a few sentences to 'tell' your audience that this person is confused or conflicted or flawed in some way, only to go back to describing how perfect they are over the next ten pages, is NOT going to balance out in the long run. How can a character who never loses possibly enjoy winning? How does a character with no struggles and no obstacles to overcome possibly express any sense of joy or triumph? What is the value of an achievement that you didn't earn? These are all questions that might arise when it comes to having a Mary/Gary Sue character in your story. And that's something you might want to ultimately avoid. I think that the idea is best displayed when you see a character that is SO well loved by the other characters in the story, and has SO little to worry about, that you actually stop caring whether or not they win in the end. It's not that you're cheering for the opposing team. You just don't see a need to give your character any support when they obviously don't need it. What is there to root for? The entire universe is conspiring in their favor at all times whether you agree with their choices or not. They're perfect. EVERYBODY thinks they're perfect! Hehehe! One example of this idea, in my opinion, comes from the movie versions of the "Twilight" series. Now, I've never read the books, so they may be totally different from the films, but from what I saw in the movies...Bella is the pure definition of a Mary Sue character. She's a dark and brooding teenager who moves to a new town and starts a new school...and by the end of the first day, she has a group of friends to hang out and eat lunch with, she has a boy asking her out to the dance, a 100 year old vampire immediately falls in love with her (After going from high school to high school for over a century, he's NEVER been more in love? Really?), as well as a boy werewolf that can't stop obsessing over her, and just...ugh! These are TEENAGERS we're talking about here, right? Stereotypes aside, it's been my experience that if you go sitting at the wrong table in the cafeteria on your very first day at a new school, you're going to get a cold shoulder like you wouldn't believe! But...as the series goes on, all eyes are on Bella. Everybody loves her, they go out of their way to make her a part of their inner circle, there are practically immortal beings literally fighting over her, even vampires that are much higher up on the food chain over OTHER vampires are completely fascinated with her...it reaches the point of just being ridiculous after a while. The entire world revolves around her and her wants and her needs, and since she's so perfect and flawless in every imaginable way...there really isn't much for her to do outside of bearing witness to whatever else is happening in the story. The plot unfolds, and she basically watches from the sidelines until it comes too close to affecting her as the poor victim...and then the rest of the world bends over backwards to protect her. She can't lose. She's not going to die! Be honest, that never crosses your mind, does it? When you have a character like this in your story, even if it's a main character, they become more of an observer than a participant. And I think that takes your readers out of the story in terms of relating to them and being a part of the adventure. Like I said, that can drag a GREAT story down to a mediocre level...or worse. So it's definitely something to look out for when you're putting your story together. "But Comsie...isn't the story supposed to be concentrated around your main character at all times? Isn't that the point?" The answer is YES! It most certainly is. But there is a difference between a 'protagonist' and a 'Mary/Gary Sue'. Even though a protagonist is made to be the center of attention in your story, that doesn't mean that they have to be perfect or void of any unlikable flaws. I understand the idea behind reading a modern day fairy tale type of story where you can live vicariously through a character that can live the life that many of us always wish that we could have lived ourselves. I don't want to claim that there isn't something alluring about the escapism of it all. But, for me personally...I find myself looking for a little struggle every now and then. I think it only enhances the appeal of a protagonist to know that they have to deal with issues that we can all relate to. Even when they're super powerful. Even when they're outrageously gorgeous. Even when they're extremely rich. Give me something 'human' to latch on to so that connection can be made between me and the characters that I read about. It's a part of that reader/writer relationship that makes it so addictive. This is what makes it fun. Some years ago, Hollywood decided to reboot the whole Superman franchise for a brand new generation with the movie, "Man Of Steel". Now, I know some people sort of drag that movie through the mud for whatever reason, but I actually really liked "Man Of Steel". I've always been a Superman fan, ever since I was a little boy. He was my very first superhero. And...I still love Superman to a certain degree...but I cannot IMAGINE actually having the task of writing for that character! No way! Superman, in a lot of ways, is the ultimate Gary Sue! You can't hurt him, you can't kill him, you can't run from him, you can't hide from him, you can't corrupt his morals or good nature (Generally speaking. There have been some isolated stories that have played around with some of those ideas)...he's invincible. Period. It makes me ask why there could ever be any crime, anywhere, on planet Earth. How is that possible? We have Superman. You see the comic book cover, and he's fighting an army of space demons or whatever, and there's a blurb asking, "Will Superman survive and save the day?" The answer? Of COURSE he will! He's friggin' Superman! Is this a trick question or what? However...there was this one trailer (I think it was the second or third trailer that released before the movie came out) that completely SOLD me on the idea of the reboot! While all of the trailers that came before this one, and after this one, were winding people up with how awesome and majestic and invulnerable Superman was...this trailer was different. It mostly focuses on the destruction surrounding him. The horrific decimation of whole cities. People running and screaming and fearing for their lives. And the goosebump raising quote, "For every human you save...we will kill a million more!" I remember thinking, YES!!! THAT is how you get to Superman! THIS is the kind of strategy that a war torn general would use to flush out and defeat a being that is basically God in a cape'! Now there's a challenge. Now there's some tension. I'm not worried about some super villain punching Superman in the face. That's not going to accomplish anything at all. But go after the people he loves and cares about? Take advantage of the fact that he can't be in all places at once, and he can't save everybody....THAT'S how you hurt a 'perfect' superhero. I honestly wish that movie had exploited that part of the equation a bit more, but...I was happy with what I got. Decent flick if you get a chance to check it out. Here's the trailer that I'm referring to... Now, Superman is a highly exaggerated version of a Mary/Gary Sue character, but the same principles apply. If you have a character in your story that seems just a little too 'special' to ever create any doubt or conflict in the minds of your readers...you may just be sapping some of the strong potential that your story has because of it. As sadistic as it sounds, I actually like putting my characters through the ringer on occasion. Because when your main characters are perfect, it gives them no room to grow and nowhere to go. That's not a protagonist. That's an act of nature. They're in the story, but they're not really 'driving' the story. They're just being put in one supposedly difficult situation after another, and waiting for their inevitable stroke of good luck to kick in and get them out of it...again. That can be mildly entertaining for some, but I definitely get more attached to the idea of 'CAN they get out of this?' over 'How are they going to do it this time? Because they always do.' I find the former much more interesting. One thing that I usually do when creating characters of my own, is look for some sort of balancing factor that will humanize them. I build them up to be attractive, funny, sensitive, loyal, sympathetic...I want them to be the kind of person that you would truly cheer for if you knew them in real life. And then, almost immediately after that, whether it's my protagonist or their love interest, I begin stripping them down. Like...ok, we've got the whole 'too good to be true' facade going...now let's explain exactly why they're too good to be true. What am I missing here? Sure, this character might be stunningly gorgeous...but he has feelings and insecurities just like anybody else, right? In fact, what if his beauty is more of a curse in his eyes than most people would believe? What if someone who's super famous, on TV, and has crowds of cheering fans...secretly wishes he could give it all up for the genuine love of just ONE person? What if you're blessed with a limitless reserve of special powers and unnatural abilities...but you were too scared of yourself and your past to really unleash them all at full power? It's a Yin and Yang idea. You have all of these great attributes and advantages over many of your other characters, but there are still parts of you that are vulnerable. That can be exploited for leverage or increased for the sake of tension later on. To avoid the Mary/Gary Sue comparison, I think there has to be a weakness or a chink in the armor. No matter how small. Something as simple as a 'secret' between friends can end up adding a layer of depth and involvement for your readers. Because they know it won't stay a secret forever, right? As long as it continues to loom over the story like a mini storm cloud...there's a reason to keep reading. Mr. Perfect isn't so perfect after all, is he? From when I first started writing, I sort of learned to dig a little deeper into my character's flaws. And I think I like them better that way. When I started, it was more like, "How can I get a super hot, totally perfect boy, to find another super hot, totally perfect boy, and get them naked together. Hehehe! And that can be entertaining, sure. But these characters aren't super experienced when it comes to sex and relationships and love in general. They're not free from temptation. They're not immune to jealousy, or depression, or heartbreak. For me, the most interesting part of crafting a project from beginning to end is getting my characters to learn, and evolve, and ultimately earn their idea of a 'happily ever after'. If they just happened to be born HOT, and found another hot boy who was gay, and then he got him on the first try without any angst or struggle...? Well, that would make for a forgettable story, in my opinion. It almost seems unfair in a lot of ways, you know? Nah, I'd rather engae my readers with something that was a bit more realistic in nature. Something to say, "No! You TOO can have this if you wanted it! This magical unicorn of a love interest is out there right now, and there's a chance that you might find him tomorrow if you know where to look." I can't say enough how important it is to make your readers an active part of your project. Let them immerse themselves into something that feels real. Everybody looks perfect from a distance. Bring your readers in closer for a more personal involvement. To keep your characters from being a witness instead of a protagonist...give them choices to make. Plain and simple. And I'm not talking about wanting an ice cream sundae or a milkshake. Hehehe! Put dilemmas in their path, and force them to make decisions that will have rewards and consequences on both sides. Make them an active participant in your story. Behind curtain number one...you've got the love of your life wanting you to come out of the closet and be with him forever. And behind curtain number two...you've got a super religious, homophobic, family that might disown you and never speak to you again if you choose this lifestyle. Yikes! What do you do? THAT'S where the tension comes from. A Mary/Gary Sue might just tell his boyfriend, 'I love you', and his family decides, 'well, as long as you're happy, we'll change our judgemental ways'. Wow...exciting... Insert a little danger into your character's plight. Drag them out of their comfort zone and let your readers know that they have problems just like the rest of us. Escapism only goes so far. It might be effective for short, one shot, stories, but if you're looking to write something a bit longer and more in depth, allow your characters to take the training wheels off of their bike and get a little dirty from time to time. Not just for the sake of drama, but to accurately depict the shared experience of life itself. We have our hearts broken, we make mistakes, we jump to conclusions, we have bad days and say stupid things that we don't mean, we have regrets, we get scared, and we sometimes get weak in the face of temptation. It happens. But I think readers appreciate seeing that in the characters that we create, and finding the strength to overcome the same problems that they've been through in the process. To wrap this up... The whole 'Mary/Gary Sue' label may be flung around as an insult more often than not these days, but it's basically just a warning against making your stories too easy for your protagonist to navigate through from beginning to end. Place a few obstacles in your main character's way. Give your outwardly perfect characters a few inner demons to face and tackle as the story goes on. And make sure that your protagonist remains relevant to the story by giving them some tough decisions to make on their own. And then show the benefits and hardships that came with making that decision. I truly think that this makes for a much more intriguing and immersive story, and it will keep your audience coming back for more. None of us are perfect. And, while pretending to be perfect for short periods of time can be enjoyable for some...it doesn't last. Reality is like gravity. We've all got to drop back down to Earth eventually. Keep your stories grounded. That's where we spend most of our time. I hope this helps, you guys! Take care! And I'll seezya soon! ((hugz))
  2. Comicality

    Too Cute . . .

    Hehehe, I know! XD i made sure to wih him a happy b day on the Shack! His dog makes for a good dance partner!
  3. Comicality

    Shelter 15 Posted!

    Welcome back to the zombie apocalypse, folks! The newest chapter has finally been posted to the Shack! So enjoy! And let me know what you think! https://gayauthors.org/story/comicality/shelter/
  4. Comicality

    Chapter 15 - Not So Secret

    Chapter 15: "Not So Secret" As Cain saw some other people walking down the hallway from both directions, he lightly took a hold of my arm and pulled me a bit further to the side. Lowering his voice to nearly a whisper, he said, "Look, me and Jamie have been doing a little bit of eavesdropping around here whenever we could find a decent place to overhear what was going on. We don't have a whole lot of info, but we've got enough to know that this building is nowhere near as secure as they want us to think it is. I'm trying to figure what's got them so freaked out all of a sudden, but, so far, no such luck. I mean...there was this other school where they tried to fortify the joint the same way they've got us set up here...and it turned into a total shit show before they were able to get people out alive." "You mean Hillside?" I asked. His eyebrows went up. "Yeah. You heard about that?" I told him, "A few times, actually. Apparently, they got overrun without warning. But it wasn't like here...with zombies busting through the front gate and launching an attack. They had..." I started to say it, but something told me to keep that rumor clogged up in the back of my throat instead. "...Umm...there was, like..." "What?" Cain asked me. "What is it? Tell me. What did you hear?" Shit. It sucks that my brother is able to read me so well all the goddamn time. Already committed to my confession, I looked around the hall and waited until there was a decent break between passing civilians before I said anything that might further 'damage' our illusion of safety in this place. I said, "Some of the generals, soldiers, and even some of my teachers and the doctors here...they think that the menace was coming from inside the compound. Not outside." Cain wrinkled his brow for a second. "You mean...they actually let people in who were bitten? People who got infected?" Uh oh... I said, "No. Not really..." Cain moved closer and asked, "How is that possible, then? Was there a leak somewhere? Did they find a way in? Or...?" I came clean, and I told him, "Cain...they're blaming it all on us. People LIKE us. Teenagers. Probably me more than you, but..." "Wait...hold on...what are you talking about?" "The people who are studying the outbreak are linking the infection to adolescents, Cain. They're saying that WE are the cause of everything that's going wrong with the world right now, and they're making moves to stomp us all out before we can do any more damage." Cain reeled for a moment. "But...but that's silly. You guys didn't do anything wrong by being young?" "I don't think they care." I said. "We're the scapegoats now. Word is passing around from compound to compound that the younger generation is corrupted to the point where we're going to be the end of civilization as we know it. And they'll do whatever it takes to stop that from happening. Even if it means rounding us up and putting us under permanent quarantine, away from the rest of the population." Cain looked distressed by what I was saying, but moved in to give me a hug around my shoulders. It felt good...but did little to calm my growing fears. "I don't know, Cain...it feels like things could fall apart at any moment. And there's nothing we can do about it." "Don't you worry about it, bro. Ok? I don't know what I'm going to do just yet, but I promise to keep you safe. You hear me?" He said. "Things are getting weird around here, Cain. More and more every day. I can feel it." "Don't you sweat it. Alright?" He assured me. "Listen, I heard that the military is going to let in two more caravans full of refugees, and that's it. After that, they're planning to cut off any further access to this location. At least for now. They're already en route, so it's too late for the soldiers to turn them back now. I think we should stay put and see if Mom and Dad are on one of those trucks before we make any big decisions about where we're gonna go from there. But...once that's settled...I say that you and me make this place a distant memory and head out on our own. You get me?" "Wait...you wanna what?" I asked. Cain took a hold of my hand and led me down the hall to one of the staircases going up to the third floor, and then we hurriedly snuk our way across to an empty classroom so he could guide me over to a nearby window. "You see that? Right over there. Look." He pointed out the window...and I saw what he had been talking about just moments earlier. Soldiers, covered, head to toe, in large white suits, breathing masks and gloves, boots...seemingly airtight from the looks of it. And there were jeeps and trucks with 'bodies' in the back. Bodies piled on top of one another, like old rugs or sacks of Salvation Army clothes donations. There was a huge bonfire in front of them...burning the grass of our once beautiful high school football field, while other soldiers with guns looked on, and sprayed down the sides with water hoses to keep the fires from getting out of control. It was such a strange thing to bear witness to. It really was. I mean...these were people once. Actual people. Probably the same neighborhood folks that I had crossed paths with a million times before in the street, or at the mall, or possibly even in this very school. Men...women...children... To see them laying there so...so 'lifeless'...it created a certain level of detachment from their humanity. A detachment that I almost felt ashamed of. Deeply ashamed. I saw the suited soldiers pick up the bodies, two by two, and toss them onto the fire. No care. No concern. No disgust. They were just inanimate pieces of meat to them now...being charred and blackened and adding to the billowing clouds of toxic smoke that they their mauled and disfigured brethren had released into the air. They barely looked like bodies at all. They were more like forgotten rag dolls in the back of some kid's closet. Void of life...limp...useless. The idea of it gave me a chill. Cain rested his hand on my shoulder and said, "I hate to say it, Jake...but the winds are changing in this place. We don't want to be around when this little last minute solution comes burning down. They won't hesitate to toss either one of us up on that bonfire if they start thinking we're the biggest threat to this shelter and everybody in it." "So you wanna run? Do you think they're just going to let us walk out of that front gate?" "The way they've been talking lately, I don't think they'd have any problem at all letting us go out there. It's people getting IN that's their biggest priority now." "That's Crazy, Cain. Where would we go?" "Anywhere but here. That's where. I say we pick a day, leave just before sunrise, and find us some place strong enough to keep the monsters at bay, while keeping us close enough to town to grab some extra supplies if we need them. A lot of these soldiers are fatigued beyond belief right now. If we catch them wearing themselves out before a shift change..." I had to stop him. "What are you talking about??? You can't be serious about any of this." "Have you got a better plan?" Cain said. "We stay here, we remain safe for as long as we can, and we FIGHT if we have to. That's a much better plan." "Jake..." Cain rubbed his eyes, and lightly grabbed me by the shoulders. "...You're still not getting it. We're fucked. I mean, do you understand that? We don't even know if we have a functional government right now. Whatever illusions or conspiracies that we've ever had about some elite 'Powers That Be' group of puppet masters having complete control over what happens in the world is fading away. FAST! They are not in control of this. They never were. All the cops and the courts and the politicians and the military in the world can't help us. The veil's been lifted. And the more people become aware of the fact that how much money they have in the bank doesn't matter anymore...the quicker they're going to turn on each other. Or, like you said...turn on us." I heard what he was saying, but was trying to rev up my denial like an old lawnmower in order to tune him out. "I don't think we should leave. I think that's a bad idea..." I said softly. But Cain just returned my attention to the burning bodies on the football field. "Did you ever think that you would see something like this? Did you see it a couple of days ago? Of course not. The military was keeping their activities under wraps. They didn't want a panic on their hands. They didn't want to have to explain to the rest of us what was going on right outside these walls on the 50-yard line. But look at them now." He said, just as they tossed a few more 'logs' on the fire. "It's not so secret now, is it?" "What does that even mean...?" "It MEANS that they're getting desperate, Jake. They were trying to keep the peace in the beginning, but now? Now they've only got objectives to reach. Orders to follow. They're burning hundreds of dead bodies out in the open, Jake. They're not hiding it anymore. That's the change. Right there. Right in front of our faces." I felt tears beginning to well up in my eyes as he forced me to watch. "How long do you think it'll be before brazen acts like this become normal? An average Tuesday. How thin is the line between doing this to dead zombies and doing it to anybody else who stands in the way of them maintaining order in a place like this?" He turned me to face him again, and looked into my eyes as the first tear rolled down my cheek. "Do you have any idea how many people are populating this high school right now? We can't hold out here forever. I don't know if you've thought about it or not...but I don't think there are any farmers out there harvesting crops at the moment. Nobody's fishing. Nobody is working the slaughterhouse or the processing plants. Nobody is driving a truck to deliver canned goods to your local grocery store. All of that is done. The system is broken. How long do you think it'll be before we run out of food and supplies? Huh? Do you think some dedicated worker is running the electricity grid right now? Do you know if anybody is running the plant to purify and keep our water clean and free from deadly germs? There is no WAY that the military can do all of these things at once, and keep us safe from the threat outside these gates, AND stop the rest of the civilians in this shelter from turning on one another once the going gets tough. People will get suspicious. Paranoid. You might think that bullying and gossip and mean-spirited bullshit is all just high school stuff...but trust me, Jake...a 15 year old bully turns into a 30 year old bully. And a 30 year old bully turns into a 60 year old bully. Same shit. Different day. Already, Jamie and I have seen people going through technology withdrawal. They're still upset that they can't get on Youtube! What do you think those people are going to be like when the food supply gets low and we're down to a few meager rations per day?" Block him out, Jake. Don't listen. Having some hope, some faith, is the only thing holding us all together right now. That's when Cain said, "You remember reading 'Lord Of The Flies' in the 7th grade?" I nodded. "Yeah. I do." "Then you already know how this story ends. Don't you?" He replied, solemnly. "It won't be long before this little experiment of ours collapses in on itself, and if we don't get out before the shit hits the fan...we may find ourselves trapped in a corner somewhere where we can't find any way out at all." Already feeling a sickness growing in the pit of my stomach, I mumbled, "This doesn't feel right, Cain. I don't see why we have to run. There are good people here. People that can help us." "This isn't a Summer Camp, Jake. This is survival of the fittest. We're a part of the game whether we like it or not." He sighed deeply to himself, and he told me, "Look...I know how you feel about your new crush and all...and if you HONESTLY think that Alex can keep a secret, maybe we can find a way to take him with us. But that's it. No more." "What about my friends?" "We can't. There's no way. The more baggage we have with us, the more liabilities we have to look out for. Plus, we'll run out of our own supplies twice as fast if we try to bring your whole squad with us." He replied. "If you think we can bring Alex along and he won't rat us out...then, fine. I get it. I really do. But the others? The others have to stay here. Ok?" The thought of leaving them behind made me even more nauseous than before. Donovan stood up for us. Walker trusted us. And Preston? Poor, innocent, little Preston. This felt wrong. Everything about it felt so upside down. But Cain was pressing so hard that I slowly nodded in agreement...if only to buy me enough time to think. "Thatta boy." Cain said, giving me a grin while ruffling my hair. "You keep this quiet, ok? We stick around to see if Mom and Dad show up first, and if not...we exit stage left and we don't look back. We can contact everybody when they get the phones working again." I didn't say anything. I just stared at the floor, wondering what the hell I was agreeing to. "Hey...we're going to get through this. I'm looking out for you. You get my back, and I've got yours. We Weavers never say die, right?" He held out his fist for a bump, but I hesitated, sadly. "Right? C'mon...let me hear it." "Weavers never say die..." I replied, barely above a whisper. "That's what I'm talking about." He smiled. "Now, don't get lost in this place. I'll be in touch some time soon. Me and Jamie are going to get a plan together and figure a way to get outside the territory without running into the horde. Keep this quiet for now. Even from Alex. I'll let you know when we've got our shit together." Again, I nodded...and I turned to take one last look out of the classroom window, watching the soldiers using long streams of flamethrower fire to rekindle the blaze of corpses on the field. Watching the mound 'settle' and fall apart, as muscle, tissue, and bone...broke down and were slowly turning to ash. Ashes that flew up into the sky and began to flutter back down to the ground like blackened snowflakes. I didn't say anything else to my older brother. He called after me to cheer me up, but I just walked back out into the hallway and headed for the staircase so I could rejoin my friends in the cafeteria. I mean, I know that I told Cain that they were barely friends at all...but, if I had to be honest, it didn't take very long for me to consider them 'family'. How was I supposed to leave them behind to face whatever horrors they might have to face if things go South in this place? How could I live with myself if I ran away and didn't tell them where I was going? I just...I never thought that running away was an option. We're supposed to be safe here, right? That was the whole purpose of the shelter. That was the whole reason that they brought us here. As I reached the bottom of the stairs and walked back out into the hallway on the first floor, I noticed the people sort of shuffling along in both directions. Practically using the lockers for balance as they all looked exhausted and off balance. Some of them with sad and worried faces...others with no expression at all. I noticed the lady with the red blanket from when I first arrived at the school. She seemed...so brittle. As if she were ready to breakdown mentally at any moment. Her eyes connected to mine, and the overwhelming agony in her soul was almost enough to weaken me in the knees. Geez...what the hell happened to her and her family? It was then that I heard a bit of scuffling from around the corner behind me. I turned to see two soldiers holding a boy with longish brown hair between them. His feet were on the ground, but each soldier had a firm grip on his arms...a third soldier walking behind them with a weapon drawn. It wasn't pointed at the kid's head or anything, but it was clearly ready for 'action' if it came to that. The kid was maybe thirteen years old...and that's being generous. He had a stressful look in his wide eyes, saying with a shaky voice, "But...b-b-but there's nothing wrong with me! Honest. It was just a cough. I have dust allergies, that's all..." The soldiers never slowed their pace down. One of them said, "Once we get you to the infirmary and get you checked out, then they can help you with that." "I don't need help. I've got medicine. My dad brought it with us. It's just over in one of the sleep areas. If you just let me go back and get it..." "No need for that. The medics will get you what you need." "But...I just TOLD you...I have medicine already. Talk to my dad! He'll tell you!" The boy dug his heels into the floor a bit and began to struggle, but the soldiers on either side of him were QUICK to tighten their grip on his arms. So rough that it looked as if they were about to cut off his circulation. "DON'T resist!" The soldier told him. "Move." The boy's bottom lip quivered with fear. "MOVE!!!" He had no choice but to comply, and as they passed me in the hallway, I found myself lowering my head, afraid to look them in the eye for fear that they'd see me and possibly drag me off somewhere too. What is happening in this place? Could Cain be right? Are we rapidly reaching the point of no return? The military doesn't even care about witnesses to this kind of thing. It's reaching a point of 'do or die'. Period. The facade is vanishing...and only the objective of keeping this facility secure remains. Not so secret anymore. Not anymore...
  5. A brand new chapter of the "Gone From Daylight" vampire saga is up tonight! So be sure to check it out, and let me know what you think when you get a chance! K? ALSO...April 1st will begin a whole new '30 Days Of Night' update slam!!! So expect a virtual storm of vampire goodies in less than two weeks time! Enjoy! And don't worry! We're just getting STARTED! ::Nods:: Have fun!!! https://gayauthors.org/story/comicality/gfd12bloodties/
  6. Comicality

    Chapter 49

    "Gone From Daylight: Blood Ties 49" It was hard to tell if I was angry at The Jeweler...or myself. It was something that I had always done when I was growing up. Taking the pain...and internalizing it. Letting it bleed into my very essence and poison me from the inside. It was the kind of inner hatred that made me want to spit in the face of my own reflection. The kind that kept my head down and my mouth shut whenever I walked through the halls at school. The kind...that weakened me to the point of walking out to the end of navy Pier that night at 3 AM...looking to finally find some rest at last. I'm not going to let him do this to me. I won't allow The Jeweler to break me down the way my father did. I WON'T! You see, there once was a time when I believed whatever my abusers told me. I gave a certain amount of validation to their claims that I was worthless. Evil. Stupid. And alone. But you want to know something? Taryn is better than any ONE of them! He's on a whole other plane of existence. And if a beautiful soul like that could find something to truly love about me...then I don't need the approval of anybody else. I don't need them at all. For the first time in my life, I feel as though I've got a 'center'...as opposed to always being flung off to the side by the rapid spinning of society's judgemental fan blades. Taryn allows me to believe that there's something within me that's worth the effort it takes to keep my heart beating. He takes my broken pieces and makes me whole again. The Jeweler is the one who's lost, if he thinks for on second that I'd willingly sacrifice that for some silly prophecy or obligation to a bunch of old dusty scriptures. I spent years being a puppet for other people to hurt and manipulate and carry the weight of their bullshit issues...and when it came time for me to ask for a little love in return? They let me down. Every time. But not Taryn. Not my sweet Taryn. He's one of the very few people in this world who has actually earned the right to play a major role in who I am. Out of all the circles that I've been able to catch a glimpse of...the one where Taryn and I end up being happy together for the rest of eternity is the only one that makes sense. Everything else seems like some sort of 'trick shot' in comparison. An intersecting circle that shouldn't be there. One that I might be able to control...or at least ignore...if I felt the need. The more I understand about this Vampire Mimic thing, the more I realize that the spiritual 'dogma' part of this prophecy simply doesn't fit me. At all. The Jeweler can tell me what happens, and what it's supposed to do...but he can't seem to tell me why. Shouldn't he know why? I mean...what is the purpose of my life up until now, if it was only going to spiral down into horror and pain later, sacrifice or not? What would be the purpose of Taryn's life...and all of the hard times that he's seen in his many years in darkness? There just seems to be a missing piece of the jigsaw puzzle here. And if it means saving the truest angel I've ever known from one moment of conflict or pain...I'll find it. I'll OWN it! And I'm going to come right back here and rub it in Lockheart's smug face when I do! I caught my breath, and pushed down on the floor, getting my feet back under me and standing up again. The damage to the walls and floor around me was heavy, but I could have easily caused this whole facility to collapse had I given myself over to the shadows completely. So I consider that a win. Some of The Jeweler's servants hurried over, using soft rags to brush the dust and dirt off of my shoulders, but I cringed and held my hands out to keep them away. I was fine. Just...fine. They all lowered their heads and silently respected my wishes to be left alone. This whole Mimic thing is still so surreal to me sometimes. But I didn't want to be rude. "Thank you. Seriously. I just want to go back to my room. Ok? That's all." I said, and they slowly backed away, never looking me in the eye as they did so. However, as I turned around to head towards the door, I noticed that Brooklyn and Haze refused to show me any grace, whatsoever. They scowled at me, upset that they weren't able to give this meek, blond, little halflife the brutal beatdown that they were expecting to. They didn't say anything, however. Just gave me a duo of dirty looks and rubbed their sore arms and legs as I walked by. And then...there was Strings... "You wouldn't be so tough without your little bag of tricks, ya know?" He scoffed. "Punk ass kid..." Was he SERIOUS??? i don't know how long it's been since his crossover into darkness, but to your average person on the street, I looked older than HE did by at least a couple of years. I just glared at him. Then looked forward and refused to pay him any attention at all. One of these days, that sarcastic little brat is going to get what's coming to him. And I hope I'm there to watch. As I saw some of the servants open the double doors wide in front of me, allowing me to leave, Strings angrily pouted, "You broke the wire on my yo-yo! These things are custom made. They don't come cheap, you know?" Without even turning my head in his direction, I mumbled, "Try a fidget spinner next time...asshole." Just as the doors were closing behind me, I heard him asking, "What the fuck is a fidget...???" Just before the slamming door cut him off. Whatever. Strings is the least of my problems right now. I began to rub my shoulder with my arm, feeling my limbs ache with exhaustion...almost too weak to cramp up from overexertion. My brain felt as though it had gone numb, all synapses firing off left and right, wearing its own energy reserves so thin that it was hard for me to keep from basically 'sleepwalking' my way back towards the elevators. Physically and emotionally drained, I barely noticed that Suraj boy as he suddenly stepped out from around the corner and hurried over to kneel in front of me again. "My lord...I can't tell you how sorry I am for what took place. I meant no disrespect. What I did was heresy, and I ask for your forgiveness. Please. PLEASE!" He grabbed my hand and held it against his cheek for a moment, but I pulled it away from him. I was a little stunned by his very appearance alone...not to mention his submissive behavior. Still...he seemed to be tearing himself apart inside for taking on Taryn's form and using it to deceive me. I didn't mean to be rude. "It's ok. Honestly." "You don't have to be merciful on my account, my lord. I deserve whatever punishment you wish to put upon me..." "Wait, what? no. No...there's no...'punishment'. None of that. I promise." I said, now looking around to see if anybody else could see us there in the hallway. "Ummm...you can get up now. Honestly, there's no need for...whatever this is." Suraj peeked up at me, his eyes misty with shame and doubt. Getting him to look me in the eye was almost like trying to coax a frightened kitten out of a tree, but...little by little...he began to relax. So I offered him my hand, simply to help him up. "It's ok. Really. Stand up. Please?" He seemed almost suspicious of the fact that I was being so chill about the whole thing. He kept eyeing me as if it were some kind of trick. As if I were suddenly going to strike him back down to the floor as soon as I got him to let his guard down. But...once he saw that I had no such intention, he took a step back and lightly brushed the dust off of his knees. "Thank you, my lord..." "It's fine. I just...I want to go check on my boyfriend. I need to make sure he's ok." "I can assure you that NO harm will come to your sire. Not in this place. Mr. Lockheart has forbidden it. He was very specific." He told me. "Yeah, but..." I said, starting to walk towards the elevators again, "...I'm not going to be comfortable until I make sure for myself. So...maybe I'll see you around, k?" However, even though Suraj nodded, as if in acceptance of my parting words, he suddenly rushed over to walk beside me anyway. "I just have to say that..what I saw in there was phenomenal. I've never, in all my days, seen someone fight the way you do." "I can't really take the credit for all that. It just sort of happens, I think." I replied. "Oh no, my lord. Not fighting like that. It takes focus, and purpose, and control. I know vampires many many years further into darkness than you who would fall immediately when facing a talent like yours. It was like every Vampire Mimic fantasy and fairy tale come true. Right in front of my very eyes. I'm still reeling from the fact that I was able to bear witness to such a thing. Such greatness. Such glory." Suraj seemed so happy to be talking to me about this, but I honestly didn't know how to respond. I certainly don't feel glorious. Or great. Or even somewhat average, for that matter. Doesn't he know that I'm just...me? "Can I ask you a question, my lord?" "You can just call me Justin." "Can I ask you a question, Lord Justin?" I sighed, "That's...that's not exactly what I..." "How are you able to truly manipulate so many extras at once? To maintain them. Combine them, even. I've seen some highly trained vampires string two or three of them together before, but nothing like what YOU were able to achieve. I wish I could do that. You must not be scared of anything." "I wish that were true, Suraj." I said. "But...the truth is...I'm scared all the time." His eyes widened slightly, a little smirk appearing on his lips. "The scriptures always said that the Mimic would be a humble soul. Someone with great empathy and concern. I am overwhelmingly impressed. I still can't believe that I am here to walk beside you right now. I feel like I have so many questions...but I can't think of a way to word them right now. Too much excitement for one evening, I suppose." He followed it up with a cheerful little giggle, a slightly higher pitch than his normal speaking voice. I don't know why, but it inspired a smile of my own. "Thanks, I guess." I told him, and that practically made him bounce joyfully with every following step. I figured that he was pretty harmless, all in all. More so than any of the other vampires that I've run into around this place. It felt good to feel like I had somebody on my side for a change. "For what it's worth...it's nice to see someone in this building who's a little less intense." Suraj's jaw dropped! He almost stumbled over his own feet when he heard me speaking to him in such a grateful way. With a boisterous skip in his step, trying to hold back a fanboy's squeal, Suraj took a hold of a small silver chain that was hanging around his neck. "Did you hear that???" He whispered to it. "The Mimic thinks it is nice...to meet ME!" I smiled at him, and he apologized. "I don't mean to harass you in any way. It is just that you are more amazing than I could have ever dreamed. More than anything I've ever studied about your legacy. To be here in your presence is an honor that i never could have prepared for." Looking down at his hand, still clutching the end of his necklace, I asked him, "What's with the...you know..." "Huh? OH!" Suraj held up a single, bright, amber colored jewel. "This is my baby sister! My baby sister, Melati! I tell her everything." My smile faded slightly. As I gazed upon the gem, a touch of sadness washed over me. "Oh. You mean...she's..." At first, he seemed confused by my sorrowful change in demeanor. But never lost his cheeky grin. "Yes. She has since passed on from darkness. In the beginning, she crossed over to be with me. We were all the family we had left in this world, and chose to be together. But she did not take well to the feeding. Trying to get her to find a donor and replenish herself was next to impossible. She was constantly starving, putting herself through such pain." Suraj looked down at the jewel and gave it a few loving rubs with his fingers. "It did hurt for me to lose her...but it hurt more to see her lose herself. So...we ended up here. Mr. Lockheart gave us a really nice place, some long forgotten luxuries...some decent counseling as well. And when Melati felt it was time, we said our goodbyes...and she stepped into one of the many sun boxes here...and she went to go searching for a new existence elsewhere." It looked as if he was reflecting on her last moments, but then cheered up again and flashed me another smile. "But Mr. Lockheart was able to fulfill his promise, and made her ashes into a precious jewel that I would be able to keep with me for as long as I am in darkness. I never take it off. It is a reminder of her, and the sparkling light that she once brought to the world. I am grateful that Mr. Lockheart was able to capture that part of her." There was a brief silence between us as I approached the elevator doors and pressed the button. Then, he suddenly gasped to himself and said, "I'm so sorry. I have been going on and on about nothing. I hope I haven't bored you." "You know...I don't think there's anything boring about you, Suraj." I grinned. "So...a shapeshifter, huh?" Proudly, he answered, "I am. It is a very exact science, you know? Takes a lot of practice. The hardest part is the eyes. I always have trouble with the eyes." He thought about what he was saying, and gasped again. "Oh my! I'm SO sorry, Lord Justin! It must have been so rude for me to impersonate your beloved the way I did!" "It's ok." I said. "It was a pretty damn good likeness, actually." I hope that kept a little bit of his extreme guilt at bay. "Mr. Lockheart made sure that I sit, and I watch, and I practiced to get every single detail exactly as it was meant to be presented. He made me listen to his voice, and study his mannerisms, and he told me that the eyes would be very important. So, I had to make a champion effort to get them all right." My forehead wrinkled slightly. "Wait...when? When did you do all of that?" "When Mr. Lockheart brought him down to get his haircut." He replied. WHAT?!?!? "His hair cut? You mean...? But that was days ago." "Yes. I needed time to figure out how to replicate his beauty. It was not an easy task. You are both so very pretty." He smirked. "Mr. Lockheart even gave me strands of his hair so that I could practice the color and soft texture in front of the mirror." Feeling a little sick to my stomach, I mumbled to myself, "He knew this would happen. He planned it all out ahead of time. Days ahead of time..." "Yes. Mr. Lockheart is very precise in his planning. Always. It is as if he is always twelve steps ahead. Much like chess." Suraj smiled when he said it, but I don't think he understood just how much he disturbed me with the fact that The Jeweler was deliberately trying to use Taryn's likeness to get to me. To throw me off my game, and plotting these things out so far in advance...knowing the outcome. Knowing how I would react to having my soul mate in danger like that. Everything is fucking GAME to him! I'm getting so sick of it! The elevator came, and I fought the urge to scowl for fear that Suraj would take it as some sort of hint that he had offended me, when in all actuality...he probably helped me out a great deal. I think I'm finally getting a clear picture of who and what I'm dealing with in this place. "I have to go. Thank you for the company, Suraj." I said, stepping onto the elevator while he remained outside. "It was my pleasure. I wish you all the joy and happiness in the world. You and your sire." He said. "Sleep well, Lord Justin!" Just as the doors were closing, I called out, "Dude...really. It's JUST Justin..." But he seemed to be skipping off in the other direction, holding his sister's jewel in his hands and whispering words of excitement to her as he rushed back down the hall in the other direction. I'm starting to think that I should just let him call me what he wants from now on. It might not be worth the headache to tell him otherwise. I got anxious as the elevator got closer to the floor that Taryn and I were currently living on, and the moment those doors opened, I practically ran down the hall, my legs fatigued, my knees and ankles sore and weary, and I burst in the door to see Taryn sitting on the floor at the foot of the bed, remote control in hand, clicking through even more cable stations and marveling at how many shows and movies there were to watch in this place. I froze as soon as I stepped in the room, hearing the door close behind me. Taryn glanced over at me, completely alive and well...bright green eyes sparkling as he flashed me a heartwarming smile, and flicked some of his longish hair back as he welcomed me back. "Justin...did you know that there's a whole channel strictly for GAY shows and movies on this thing??? When did THAT happen? I feel like I missed so much! Hehehe!" He was happy. Healthy. Untouched by any of the harmful activities that had been taking place just a few levels below us. But my heart felt as though it was being squeezed in a vice as I laid eyes upon him again. The emotion overpowered me. No bruises. No dirt. No scrapes of cuts on his beautiful face and graceful, unblemished, features. He was ok. My sweetheart was totally ok. When I began to tear up and didn't respond to what he said, Taryn looked over at me again and muted the television. "Justy? Are you ok?" I found the courage to step forward, and I just hurried over to where he was sitting and dropped to my knees, hugging him tightly around the neck as I put my chin over his shoulder to hide my tears of joy. I held him so close. So close that Taryn began to giggle as my rough embrace caused him to lose balance and roll back on the floor...both of us laying there with our arms wrapped around each other, so happy to be reconnected again. "Did...did something happen, or...?" Taryn asked, but I secretly wiped my eyes, and just moved my head back long enough to give him a deep kiss on his sensual lips. "Mmmm...yikes. I'm not sure what I did to deserve that, but...I'm thinking that maybe I should do it much more often. Hehehe!" He really had no idea what I had just been put through, did he? No clue as to how quickly I was ready to give up everything, including my own life, just to ensure his safety. But, once the shock of seeing him happy and unharmed had worn off, i just began kissing him all over his stupid pretty FACE! "Mwah! Mwah! Mwah! I love you! MWAH!!! God, I love you!" "Hahaha! OK! OK! I believe you! Geez!" He giggled wildly. "What's gotten into you?" "Nothing." I grinned. "Nothing at all." I rubbed my nose lightly against his, and I soon noticed a change in his expression. A hint of confusion. "What? What's the matter?" Taryn squinted a little bit. He asked, "Did...you get a new set of Optrix or something?" "Did I what? What do you mean?" He looked closer, and he smiled. "Your eyes...they're brown instead of blue." "They are?" Taryn wiggled himself out of my embrace and stood up to walk me over to the mirror. "There. You see?" Sure enough...when I looked at my reflection, my eyes really had turned brown. In fact, it almost looked as though the shape of them had been slightly altered to match Suraj's natural look. "Whoah..." I whispered. "That's freaky..." Taryn grinned. "It's cute and all, but...it sorta took me by surprise. Hehehe!" I shut my eyes for a moment, and opened them again to see if they had changed back. They hadn't. I tried a few more times, but I didn't understand Suraj's extra at all. Nor could I figure out how I could have possibly absorbed his abilities so quickly. It's not like we had that much contact with each other. This Mimic thing gets weirder by the day. "I don't know how to change them back." I told him. Taryn gave me a kiss on the cheek and said, "That's ok. You can keep it for now. Just don't let me go too long without seeing those baby blues again. They were the first thing I ever noticed about you. The first thing I really fell for. Hehehe!" I kissed his lips, but before we got into anything too intimate, Taryn got himself all excited and took me by the hand to lead me over to the bed. "You have to check out this channel. There are some really good gay dramas on there. And some comedies too. TONS of cute boys too! You're gonna love this. Trust me." We lay, side by side, for the next few hours. With my arm around Taryn and his head resting peacefully on my chest...comfortable in a way that only true love and companionship provides. A few random kisses shared between us, and a snuggle-factor that a child would only share with his favorite teddy bear. How can I expect The Jeweler to ever understand a connection like this? An abundance of affection that rivals any set 'plans' that he may have for the 'greater good'. Who wouldn't sacrifice everything for just a few more moments spent in love? Only those who have never tasted its luxurious grandeur. Its elegance...and its promise to hold you and keep you safe. For now, and forever. There is no lesson in the world that could make me look upon a blessing like the one we share as anything less than a divine miracle. And if the prophecy says that he has to be taken from me in order for the world to live...then the prophecy has to be changed. Either that...or I'd gladly take the rest of the world into the abyss with us when it ends. At least I'll know that, for once in my life...I fought for something I believed in. I fought for us. As we got closer and closer to the approaching dawn, I felt Taryn cuddling even closer to me than before. Trying to find a comfortable position to maintain during his sleep cycle, his body heat waning considerably as his daily hibernation began to take effect. I kissed his forehead as he yawned in my arms, whispering, "G'night, baby..." Taryn smiled, but he could lose consciousness SO fast sometimes when it came to the sunrise. Hehehe, it was cute though. At least to me it was. And as my body was slowly being sapped of its energy, and my focus began to drift...I suddenly became aware of another...'presence' in the room with us. I can't really explain it, but it just felt like somebody else was there. Close. And watching me. My eyes were half closed, and I was super groggy and weak...but I managed to raise one of my hands up to rub the sand out of my eyes and sit up slightly to see what the heck was going on. I fought to stay awake as this...shadowed figured appeared to be standing at the foot of the bed. It was a blurry image, but I struggled to take in as much detail as I possibly could before I passed out. I stared at it. Transparent. I could clearly see the TV and the wall behind it. But it was still standing there. Motionless. I used every last bit of concentration that I could to complete the image before me. Eyes. Hair. Face. Height. Build. And...just as the few remaining breaths of conscious activity were leaving me...the picture became clear. I recognized the figure, and a shiver went through me as I found the strength to stutter out ONE name before the sleep cycle forcefully dragged me into my daily slumber... "R-R-Richie...?"
  7. Be sure to get our safeguard marks ready!
  8. A brand new chapter is up for you guys tonight! I hope you like it! And please feel free to let me know what you think when you get a chance! K? We've got a busy week ahead of us! Try to keep up! ::Giggles:: https://gayauthors.org/story/comicality/savagemoon06-thenewbreed
  9. Comicality

    Chapter 32

    "Savage Moon: The New Breed 32" My legs felt so worn out, walking through the woods at the same pace for such a long time. And my stamina seemed to be holding out longer than Isaac's was...which was almost insulting, considering that I had literally carried him half the way here. The burning sensation in my wounds got more intense as time went on. I would occasionally lift my shirt again and look down to see how my torn flesh had progressed in painfully 'stitching' me back together again. But the heat...Jesus, the heat was unbearable. My body could only heal itself by bringing this intense fever to the rest of me, and while it might have been doing me a great service in terms of patching me up again...the fever made me dizzy to the point of almost falling over. It was like having the worst flu virus ever...and I just wanted to lay down somewhere and go to sleep until it was over. Ugh...the agony... Isaac had gone awfully quiet on me, but I figured it was best for him to save his breath for the extended hike. The last thing I wanted was for him to wear himself out and feel the need to stop again. I had no way of figuring out how far behind us my brethren from the pack were. They could be miles away...or they could be hot on our trail, just 100 paces behind us. I couldn't tell. Strangely enough...despite my fear and loathing of them all...I felt a certain void inside of me, being separated from them. It's hard to describe, but...I almost missed them. Their energy. Their brotherhood. Maybe it's just a side effect of becoming a part of their 'union' or whatever, but...fearful of the consequences of running into Cyrus again, I still had this yearning to be under his protection again. I felt lost without him. Unable to govern my desires or my emotions without his expert knowledge and guidance. It was as if my very sense of safety and belonging had been snatched away from me. I couldn't 'feel' my brothers and sister anymore...and it left a hole in me that could never be filled by anything other than going back to them. Tail between my legs and all. How sick is that? How can I feel this way after everything they've put me through? This is insane. Owwww...the burn! That one hurt. "I think I see something." Isaac said, breathlessly pushing himself to the top of another small hill. "It looks like a satellite dish. Do you see it?" Peeking around him, I saw what he was talking about, and picked up the pace. My aching calves tightening up as I hurried to reach the top of the hill and see if our eyes had deceived us or not. Sure enough...there was a satellite dish. And a cabin just a short distance away. There also looked to be an old car parked on the side of the house, and a fuel tank for heat, gas, and hot water, I assumed. Thank God! A break from the monotony of endless trees and nature's unrecognizable landscape. Isaac and I looked at each other and smiled weakly. He said, "What do you know? It looks like you were right, eh?" "Let's go. Hopefully, someone's home." I smirked, and we began hurrying towards the old cabin, shuffling leaves and dirt all the way down the hill. I was still sore from walking so far for so long, but the promise of a decent moment's rest was enough to give me a second wind. The cabin was a little run down, but still looked 'lived in', if that makes sense. The windows were a little fogged over with dust, the porch hadn't been swept in ages. Spiders had obviously felt comfortable building webs on the side of the house, and a hornet's nest had been left untouched on the back porch. There was a car in the yard, but it seemed to be rusted and out of commission...a bunch of bags, suitcases, and usual 'garage junk', had been piled up in the back seat...blocking the rear window. I guess nobody had driven that car for quite a while. Isaac and I walked around to the front of the house, trying to see if maybe we could find some signs of somebody recently occupying the residence. We didn't have much luck though. For the time being...the place looked to have been abandoned. I stepped up on the front porch and I rang the doorbell, but got no answer. Even knocked a few times, attempting to be patient about it all. But still...no answer. I tried turning the knob on the front door. Locked, of course. I moved over and tried to raise one of the front windows...then another. Shit. Also locked. "Whoever uses this cabin...they haven't been here recently. At least, it doesn't look like it." I said. I searched the area to see if I could find another way inside, but I wasn't having any luck. "Alright...it looks like we're gonna have to do this the hard way..." I stepped off of the front porch, and Isaac watched me as I shuffled around in the yard for a minute or two, looking for a big enough rock to smash the window. I found one that was about the size of my palm. Big enough to do the job, but hopefully wouldn't cause too much of a mess. Fuck it, I'll pay for it later if anybody complains. Isaac stopped me as he saw my hand draw back, ready to toss the large stone through the window. "Wait! What are you doing?" "Sorry, Isaac. But we've come too far to let a locked window keep us from taking a much needed rest. It looks like we're going to have to 'Goldilocks' this window and find our way inside." I said. But Isaac told me to hold on. I saw him look all over the front porch, moving a rocking chair, feeling over the top of the door frame, and finally running his fingers underneath the mailbox just to the side of the front entrance. "Ah ha...here we go..." He said. And, like magic, he produced a key! "What the...???" "In my town, old Ms. Yoder often drinks a lot of wine at the local pub. She's always misplacing her keys, and couldn't get back into her house when her night of drinking was over. So she began to hide keys elsewhere...just in case." He smiled proudly. Isaac pushed the key into the front lock and opened the door with no problem. "You might just be a useful genius in all this after all, Mr. Montrager." I grinned, and we walked inside together, happy to find some momentary refuge after our exhausting ordeal. We tried to flick one of the light switches on, as the cabin was dark, even in the daytime. But the electricity had been shut off. There was some running water in the kitchen sink though, and even though it took a couple of minutes to get it to warm up...we did have hot water. The cabinets were empty. So was the fridge. Not even a few canned goods left behind to satisfy the growing monster being formed in my belly. But, despite our lack of any survivor's treasure being found in that house...at least the furniture was super soft and comfy. A treat that I took advantage of the moment I saw a set of spongy sofa cushions calling my name from across the living room. I plopped down in the middle, kicked my shoes off, and swiveled around to stretch out...a deep sigh expressing my relief as my restless muscles finally resigned themselves to getting a break from the push to keep moving. I felt my eyes burning and lay my head back on one of the soft cushions, using my arm to cover them up and melt into a much calmer state. It wasn't until about thirty seconds later that I noticed an extremely still silence in the room. I opened my eyes to see Isaac standing there, practically on the other side of the living room, looking stiff and frightened, staring directly at me as if he expected me to sprout a second head at any moment. "You can relax, you know?" I said. "I promise not to eat you, if that's what you're worried about." "The fact that you have to even make me that promise is cause for great concern, Wesley." "Go on. Sit down. I said I wasn't going to hurt you, what else do you want?" "Why should I believe you? Because you're so 'nice'?" He said sarcastically. I sighed, merely responding with, "Too tired." It took him a moment or two to actually unwind a little bit, but he eventually found the courage to find a seat as far away from me as this little furniture arrangement would allow. And even then, he made sure to keep his back pressed against the chair, and his feet firmly placed on the ground in case he needed to flee the scene at a moment's notice. I could easily smell the fear on him. I could hear the erratic beating of his troubled heart. It's kind of intoxicating, the feeling of having someone so terrified of what you are. It's hard to explain, but it gives you this sense of 'power'. It strokes the ego and makes you larger than life. I keep having to wonder whether I would have been this way before this trip out to the woods. If it was Cyrus' toxic influence and my transformation that is flooding my ind with all of these wicked thoughts...or if it was just the true nature of mankind in general. Sometimes it feels like Cyrus just took a dust rag and polished up the worst parts of who I already was...just so I could see them clearly. "For what it's worth, Isaac...I feel bad for making you a part of this. Then again...if it wasn't for them trying to hurt you, I don't know if I ever would have found the strength to get away." He gave me a sideways look, still suspicious of my true intentions. "Why couldn't you just walk away? Why not leave at the first sign of trouble?" He asked. "I knew, almost instantly, that they were no good. I could sense it. And they didn't make any attempts to hide their evil. Not from you, or me, or anybody. Why would you stay?" "You just...you don't understand, alright?" "They're bad people, Wesley. Every last one of them." "Stop. They're not what you think." "That Cyrus is the worst of them all..." "Stop TALKING about Father that way!!!" I shouted. I don't...I don't know what happened. Did I mean to scream at him that way? I looked over and saw the most panic-stricken look on his face. Wide eyed, and more terrified of me than ever. When I looked down at myself, I realized that I was sitting in an upright position again, my legs swiveled back around, feet on the floor...and my nails digging deep into the cushions to the point of tearing the fabric. Strange...I don't remember sitting up at all... I put my hands up to my face to rub my eyes again and calm down. "I'm sorry. Honestly. I...I didn't mean to do that." I said. "I just...I'm finding it very hard to think straight right now. I think the calling has its claws in me a lot deeper than I thought it did. It's hard to tune it out sometimes." "The...calling?" Isaac asked, confused. "Trust me...it'll take an unbearably long time for me to explain it, and even longer for you to understand it. Let's just say that it's like trying to shake off the last few coughs and sniffles after a particularly nasty run in with the flu. I don't think it's quite done with me yet." I rubbed the painful sores on my side and winced with a gasp as I struggled to find the energy to get back up on my feet again. Quickly standing up as well, Isaac moved around to the other side of the chair...as if that would be much of a barrier between us if I really wanted to do him some harm. "What are you doing?" He asked. "Ugghhh...I'm gonna look around this place and see if whoever lived here actually has some rubbing alcohol or something to disinfect these wounds. I'm not exactly sure how this healing thing works, but the last thing I need is to go into septic shock." I told him, limping slightly around the couch. "The problems I've got going on right now? It's not something I'm expecting some local hick doctor to solve with a shot in the butt and a couple of aspirin." I saw a bathroom near the back of the cabin and headed towards it. "I'll...ughh...I'll be right back." Stepping inside, I headed for the medicine cabinet first. Best logical place to look, right? I opened it up...found some finger-sized Band-Aids, some gauze pads, a half empty box of Q-tips...but nothing that I could really use. A few extra lenses for what looked like a rather thick set of glasses, and an ace bandage for sprains. Not much good to me. I looked down under the sink and found mostly shampoo, soap bars, and a couple of cleaning products. A rather large, half gallon, bottle of ammonia, some bleach, a pack of sponges, and some extra rolls of toilet tissue. Oh wait...what's that brown bottle under the pipes? Eureka! Hydrogen Peroxide. I know some people use it to clean tile and the like, but it's a disinfectant just the same. I've got to work with what I've got. The bathroom didn't have a window in it, so the mirror was a bit dark, even with the door open. But when I carefully pulled my shirt up over my head, the large, dark, rips in my flesh were all clearly visible. Mostly scabbed over and healing, but...it's frightening to see that amount of damage done to yourself. That almost hurt more than the wounds themselves. I popped the cap off and poured some of the stinging liquid in my open wounds. "Ahhh!!! FUCK!" I hissed, trying to gently wipe some of it way with the gauze pads behind the mirror. Yikes...that hurt a lotmore than it had any right to. i hope it's doing enough of its job to make the agony worth it. I finished up a few minutes later. I didn't bother to put my shirt back on, as it was dirty and bloodstained and practically ripped to shreds anyway. Besides, raising my arms up to drape it back over me was going to rip me right back open...so why bother? I opened the bathroom door, slightly limping my way back to the couch as my body finally had enough time to fully process how 'broken' it really was, healing factor or not. I plopped back down and held my balled up shirt to my side as Isaac stared at me in silence. I was so tired. My body was mostly numb, but with just enough feeling to wince from the ache that shot through me every time I tried to move. It was best for me to just sit still for now. Try to...regain some of my sanity so I could figure a way out of this predicament. "You wounds look bad..." Isaac said, surprisingly in an almost concerned tone of voice. "I'll be alright." I grunted. "You need to go to the hospital." "Oh sure. That big hospital, right here in the middle of the woods. Just walk 100 paces from the back door, and turn right at the tree with bird's nest in it..." He seemed slightly offended by my sarcasm. "Then maybe you can go back and ask your 'brothers' to patch you up. I'm sure they would be thrilled." More sarcasm. Ok, then... "Do you not see what happened to me back there? I did that protecting you. And considering the fact that either one of us is still breathing? I'd say I did a pretty good job of it. This being my first time and all." We glared at each other for a moment, but we were both too worn out to do much more. Whatever friction we had building between us...it was going to have to be put on hold until we found a way out of this mess. Then he could go his way and I could go mine. Who cares, right? And yet, after another uncomfortable silence between us, I sighed, and just wanted to somehow...I don't know...explain my side of things. Maybe I was in denial. Maybe ! had no right at all to ask for understanding or forgiveness. But I couldn't help but entertain the idea of setting the record straight...so he didn't walk away, thinking that I was just some heartless demon who had lost his nerve at the last minute. That's not who I am. Not at all. "I was really careful at first. You know?" I said, getting Isaac's attention. "I heard the rumors. I saw the signs. I had every intention of staying away from them. All of them. There are things out there so vile, so wicked...you figure that it would never be a temptation to you. And that's easy to say from a distance. When you don't have to think about it. When the rewards are out of your reach." I looked down at the floor, a bead of sweat rolling down my forehead as my fever increased in its intensity. "But...Cyrus brought it right to my front door. He laid it down at my feet. He offered me the apple, and I took the bite. Not even the shame of knowing it was wrong was enough to keep me away from it. I guess...you never really know who you are until you're faced with the struggles you've never had to face before." "I still don't understand..." He said. "How could you be with them? How can you fall for their trickery and allow them to change you in such a way?" I said, "That's just it, Isaac...they didn't ask me to change anything. Not once." My eyes met his, and I told him, "You never realize how much you NEED to hear that someone loves you, just as you are...without conditions...without rearrangements or omission...until you actually have someone say it to you. Plainly. Shamelessly. It's like it touches something so deep inside of you that you have no defense against it. It overwhelms you. It's like waking up from a nightmare." I shifted a bit, trying to get more comfortable on that couch, my scars still stinging me from time to time. "I spent my entire life being afraid of who I am. Ashamed. And alone. I shut so much of my true self off from the rest of the world that I couldn't really be a part of anything meaningful. It wasn't real. I was just faking some stupid, 'acceptable', identity that I thought other people might enjoy and pay attention to. And when that fake image got any kind of praise or attention...I sat back and took the credit for it. KNOWING that it was a lie! But the lie was all I had to depend on. The real me would be rejected in a heartbeat if they knew. Rejected in school, rejected in the church, my friends...my family..." I felt a lump in my throat, but kept talking, regardless. Who knows when I'll get another shot at talking to anybody about this ever again? "...It's an isolated feeling, thinking that you have to wear a mask and pretend to be somebody else to get the kind of love and attention that you want from the rest of the world. It's self loathing at its finest...but you make it ok, because you get to deny that the more 'disgusting' part of you simply doesn't exist anymore." For the first time since we had been sitting there, Isaac seemed to relax enough to let his guard down for a moment and absorb what I was trying to say. "I think I can understand that part of it. Yes." I wiped my eyes as I continued to feel the absence of my brethren in my heart, and with a sniffle, I said, "There was this boy...he was not far from the camp. His name was Casey. Heh...his beauty struck me like a bolt of lightning from the very first time I ever laid eyes on him. I know that there are people out there who say that there's no such thing as love at first sight, but...if it never happened before, then he'd be the first to inspire such a thing. He was stunning. Sweet. Amazing eyes...and a smile that just seemed to cause these little tremors in your stomach whenever he pointed it in your direction. Yeah...Casey was...he was truly something special." Isaac saw my emotions bubbling up to the surface, and I began to sniffle a bit more...tugging lightly on his sense of empathy. "So, this Casey...he is your boyfriend?" A single tear dripped from my eye. "Heh...well, see, that's the thing about shame and self loathing, Isaac...it doesn't leave any room for you to be happy. It doesn't leave you with enough energy to recognize and appreciate what's right in front of you. You never feel like you deserve it. And even if you got a taste...you'd just end up destroying it all in the end. So what's the point of putting yourself out there to get hurt, right?" "You never told him, then." He said, and I slowly shook my head. "I wanted to. I kept going back, I kept hoping that he would cast some kind of magic spell over me that would take me away from this emptiness I feel inside. And I know its not fair to make him responsible for making me sane, but...I was desperately hoping that he would be the one to set me FREE." I said. "But I was scared, you know?" "Scared of having him not love you in return?" I sniffled again, holding back the tears as best as I could. "Scared that he would love the 'fake' me...the mask...and I'd spend the rest of my life being too ashamed to show him who I really was underneath it. Someone who was nowhere near being worthy of his affection. Just another lame gay teen, full of mind games and empty promises...soon to be discarded for someone more his speed." I said. "Ugghhhh..." I doubled over and grabbed a hold of my knees as another sharp pain surged through my abdomen. "Are you ok???" He asked. I had to catch my breath, but I assured him, "Yeah. It was just...a cramp or something. I'm fine." I wiped my eyes again, and I stared up at the ceiling. "I can't even remember how I got here, Isaac. I don't even remember where it all began." "Your demon friends, you mean?" I nodded. "Being so alone...feeling so unwanted and unloved for so long...Cyrus came along, and he's the first one who ever bothered to peek beneath the mask. The first one who told me that I didn't need to LIE about who I am, or what I desired. You don't know what it's like to actually have someone embrace you and make you feel like you have a home. People you can be totally open with and not fear judgement or backlash or some kind of brainwashed response from people who could never understand what you go through every day just to feel...to feel..." "Normal." Isaac added, and I nearly cried when I heard it. Maybe he understands after all. "I guess it's easy to fall in line with people who make you feel that way. Even 'wicked' people...who may not have your best interests at heart." I sobbed. "I thought Cyrus was setting me free. And he certainly gave me a lot of room to be myself for the first time in my life. But..." "But?" He asked. Remembering his words to me, I said, "...But a cage a million miles wide...is still a cage." The room got silent, and now I felt just as emotionally drained as I did physically. So I swiveled around and put my feet back up on the couch, attempting to carefully find another comfortable spot in the old couch to snuggle into. It wasn't easy, but I was much too exhausted to expect much more than a position that would make me scream out loud in pain. "Look...if you don't mind...I think I'm just going to lay here and get a few minutes worth of rest, ok? We'll figure something out a bit later. Maybe find a way to navigate our way to one of the main roads and maybe get a shot at hitching a ride with a passing car. But for now...I just need to close my eyes for a little bit. Is that ok?" Isaac was silent for a moment, and then nodded slowly. "Ok. You rest. I will look around the house to see if I can find something that will help." "Alright. Cool. You do that." I sighed. I could already feel the fatigue taking me over, but before I dozed off, I opened one eye and looked back at Isaac again. "You know...not that I don't trust you...but I wouldn't try sneaking out of this cabin and taking off while I'm asleep. Cyrus and his pack have already got a lock on your scent. They'll follow you. They'll find you. And...well, you know what happens when they come knocking...don't you? Not just you...but to everybody that's come into contact with you along the way. You'd be better off with me right now. Believe me." His eyes widened a bit, but he agreed to stay put. I'm pretty sure that I had every reason to believe him. Alright...just...a few minutes worth of sleep. Ten? Maybe twenty? Enough to get my head together. Jesus...I'm so tired. I'm surprised I was able to stay awake this long.
  10. Thanks, guys! It's a little better today. The antibiotics helped a lot. Hopefully just another day or two before I'm on the road to normal again.
  11. Comicality

    Emote Control

    And here we are, distinguished ladies and gentlemen! This is officially the 50th article in the 'Comsie Rambles On' series! Hehehe! I just want to take a quick second to thank you all for the likes and comments, and for offering your own touches and advice on the topics being discussed. I'm still learning too! So I love to see them! And now...let's take the first step taken towards Article #100!!! This weekend's topic took some extra effort, trying to figure out how to put it into words that people could understand. Emotion can be such an intangible idea when it comes to explaining it or trying to bring it out in a story. Not to mention the fact that methods of doing so drastically differ from author to author, and it translates differently from reader to reader. But there is a hidden essence in all this that truly connects us all together in a variety of ways...and if we learn to tap into that energy, our stories can truly create some moving moments for everybody involved, writers and readers alike. But how can I even approach a conversation like that? The best way, I figured, was to do so through music. Music has this incredible ability to truly affect us when we need it most, and expect it least. It takes the intangible idea of being able to emote in your writing, and makes it a little more easily absorbed. It's more than an inner concept. You can hear it. You can feel it. So I'd like to use that as my tool this week as we talk about bringing real emotion to the words we write, and how to dig even deeper once we know what were looking for. As always, the idea behind this goes back to the whole 'show, don't tell' mantra that every writer should keep going on in their heads at all times. When you're writing, always remember that it is not enough to say, "My main character is sad." Let your main character's inner thoughts, sullen actions, and painful dialogue, display that. If done right, the sentence, "He/She was sad," shouldn't have to be mentioned. Instead, concentrate on what's going on around that character. What led up to that moment? What might happen after that moment? How does this take the story in a 'sad' direction? If your readers have been absorbing all the details around this particular event or the circumstances surrounding this character, then their empathy should kick in and they'll feel sad for him or her without you having to 'tell' them that they should. It's like seeing a well decorated slice of cheesecake behind the counter at your local bakery. Hehehe, nobody has to 'tell' you it's going to be delicious! You can look at it, you can smell it, you begin to salivate at the very thought of it. (Ugh...now I want some cheesecake!) But this connection between you and your audience comes from digging really deep to the very core of the emotions that you're trying to convey in your story. And that takes practice. Not just skill, as I'm certain you all have the skill, without a doubt. But practice. It takes time to really drudge up those emotions and memories and personal experiences that you might be drawing from to create that particular scene, and then put it into words. You have to 'feel' it, so your readers can feel it. I can, honestly, say that I've sat at this keyboard with tears in my eyes MANY times, myself, while writing some of the more painful moments in my stories. And while it may be emotionally draining, and it might force me to take a break from time to time...the effect that it had on my readers worked out even better than I ever could have imagined it would have. Hehehe, so...I guess you could say that I was proud to depress so many people at once. The sadist that I am! LOL! But this comes from being able to really understand emotion in general, being able to relate to it from times in your life when you felt the same way, and then bringing that to the surface. Because, at its deepest level...I think we really have the ability to all relate to the shared experience of life itself. We've all been heartbroken at one time in our life. We've all been angry, we've all been scared, we've all been head over heels in love with someone, we've all been full of joy and fireworks. It might have been on different levels or for different reasons, but believe me...a 14 year old boy who got a Playstation 4 this past Christmas and a 65 year old man who got that first shiny bicycle in the store window when he was a kid BOTH understand the same kind of joy and surprise that comes with that. The bike or the video game isn't the connection. The JOY is the connection. And you can touch the hearts of an infinitely wide range of readers once you teach yourself to make that part your focus. So where does the 'music' come in, Comsie? I want you guys to listen to a few songs down below that I chose specifically for this article. I want you to think about how these songs make you feel inside. The voice. The lyrics. The instrumental arrangements. And more importantly, how they all fit together. These were meant to 'move' you. They are presenting a particular feeling and guiding you to sympathize and possibly end up feeling the same way. Try to let go and feel what it wants you to feel. What is it doing to you? Why are you suddenly feeling something that you weren't feeling before the story started? This is a South Korean artist by the name of So Hyang. Now, a friend of mine shared this with me last year, and she is being hailed as one of the most emotionally moving singers in the WORLD right now. Naturally, I was skeptical. I mean...the world? Really? Ummm...but I have to admit, she is pretty damn moving to say the least. What starts off as a really cool, soft, and pleasant song...ends up as a near religious experience by the time it's over. She's about as close to a living, breathing, Disney princess, as you can get. Hehehe, I just listened to this again a couple of minutes ago, and I feel really good now! Give it a listen... Hehehe! Did you feel that? Maybe a little bit? Maybe a lot? Now, when you think about the song itself and her performance of it...how did it affect you, emotionally? And why do you think that is? No matter whether you're a singer, actor, writer, painter, or architect...the unique value of your art comes from your personal 'choices'. For a singer, it comes from knowing when to draw a note out, or to cut it short. To reach a higher tone, or a lower one. These choices may be pre-planned or totally subconscious and spontaneous...but it is those choice that personalizes the song to them and them alone. Writing is no different. Can you move someone with text on a screen the same way that song might move you with visuals and audio and expert arrangements? YES! You can do all that, and a LOT more, in fact! Because the people reading your story have more than a few minutes to spend with the characters and themes that you're hitting them with. If anything, your writing should be able to touch them on a level that a three to five minute song can't reach. And while it may not be as immediately devoured as a song or a movie...the impact can be just as powerful. Just like these singers, you, as an author, have a 'voice'. Your choices will make your story relatable and unique to everyone who lays eyes upon it. It's all in how you communicate the emotion that you're looking to broadcast to your audience. I think that there's something 'unspoken' between us all that can be instantly discovered when an artist presses the right button or finds the right trigger. Something about hearing that song above touched me. It connected to something within me that I might have buried or forgotten about. An old memory? An emotional experience? A faded dream? A release for some bottled up feelings that I never faced or dealt with properly? Who knows? But something about this particular song made contact with a deeper part of me. It went searching for certain emotional strings...and then gave them a little 'tug'. THAT'S the power of being able to emote with your work. You can have all the vocal skill and training in the world, perfect pitch, breath control, and the best sound equipment that money can buy...but it's the emotional connection that will always make your work stand out over everything else. There's a spark, an untitled glow, to it that can't be faked, manufactured, or imitated. I believe that emotion easily separates a really good story from a GREAT story. One that your readers will never forget. Like I said, it takes practice. It takes exposure. And sometimes, it's going to be exposure to feelings and memories that you may not want to relive or dwell on for any length of time...but the more experienced you become with experiencing those feelings, firsthand, the easier it will be to project those feelings through the characters in your story. Spend some time thinking about it. Take a moment, and think about that very first time that you really got your heartbroken. Go back to that time in your life...the pain, the tears, the denial, the acceptance...honestly approach those feelings, and think about how you (at that particular moment in your life) would have to explain how you were feeling. Put it in focus. "I felt like my heart had been torn in half by someone I trusted." Good! Put that in your story! "I was so ANGRY that he cheated on me!" Great! Put that in your story! "I wish I never met her! It was like she destroyed my whole life!" Excellent! Take those emotions, and tell that story through the eyes of your main character! I won't lie...sometimes it hurts. It does. I've dealt with some really painful moments in my life through my stories. From "My Only Escape" to "Save Or Sacrifice" to "Never Again"...I had to draw from some pretty disturbing memories in order to write those out. But it can be a truly therapeutic experience when it's all said and done. I don't know...tears are good for the soul and all that. But the more you sort of dig around in that wound, the more you pick at that scab...the more you begin to get a clear understanding of the subtle differences involved when dealing with one emotion or another. In the two songs below...they are both dealing with heartbreak. Someone that you love who is now attempting to be happy with someone else. Now, hearing that part of the emotional description, one would think that the songs would be pretty similar to one another. "I love you. You left me behind. I can't let go." They both deal with loss. They both deal with a mixture of pain and anger...so, I guess 'painger'! Hehehe! However, give them both a listen. The emotion and the theme is the same, but lyrically and emotionally...they're both sending out a very different message. Sad, yes. But the Yebba song is a bit more determined. She seems like she's in pain, but there's a certain feeling of strength and empowerment in her delivery. I can feel the pain in her performance. But she's still standing strong, despite her being so close to breaking down. However, in Conor Maynard's highly emotional cover of Drake's 'Marvin's Room', he seems a bit more somber. More defeated. It feels more like he's trying to maintain some kind of strength, but he's struggling through it. It's almost like he's lost as to whether he's going to make it or not. And is he crying? it almost looks like he was crying! Geez! Where was this coming from? I think he was 17 when he covered this, so...recent heartbreak maybe? Who knows? Anyway, you can tell two completely different stories from this subtle difference alone. One of someone getting over a massive heartbreak, or one of someone being crushed by it. Put yourself in both situations. Feel it in your heart. And think about how you would put those feelings into words when your characters are going through something similar. 000 The thing to remember is to always draw from your personal truth. Somebody out there has been through the same things that you have struggled through in your life, and when you make that connection...when you find a way tug on that heart string...the reader/writer dynamic becomes a symbiotic experience. When you dig deep enough...you're no longer just telling your story, but their story as well. You reach out and you actually 'touch' a part of them that they didn't even know was there. Hehehe, I didn't mean for that to sound anywhere NEAR as perverted as it did! The subtle changes on one side of the emotion or another comes from the words you use, and the way you describe the plight of your character. If you want to empower them, your word usage should reflect that. The tone should be different. Convey strength through your descriptions and vocabulary. If you want them broken and hurt beyond repair...change the way you describe their handling of the situation. You wouldn't describe both sides in the same way in real life if it were happening to you. So don't do it that way in your stories. Pay attention to the difference. A sentence or two can make a huge difference in how your readers perceive your protagonist's state of mind. And that state of mind can be the rise or fall of an emotionally potent scene in your project. These next two songs show a slightly different take on the idea of misery. Just...plain misery. Now, this first one will always have a special place in my heart. Johnny Cash and his wife, the love of his life, passed away about 4 months apart from each other. After losing her, he said that his music was all he had left, and he made this cover of 'Hurt', originally from Nine Inch Nails' album, 'Downward Spiral'. This was the last video he ever filmed before he died, and the flashbacks to a long life of entertaining and basically being country music's number one badass, mixed with the heartbreaking lyrics, is sure to twist a few hearts here and there when watching it. The second video, however, is more 'angst' than misery. You watch the video and listen to the song, and while Alessia Cara is 'miserable' where she is, it has a totally different vibe to it. She isn't sad about it. She just doesn't want to be there. I remember seeing this for the first time and thinking, "Omigod, I remember being like that at a party!" I'm supposed to be having fun, but...I'm just not into this at all. I'd uch rather be somewhere else. Anywhere else. Again, these songs have different tones to them. The inspire different emotions and therefore need to be treated differently in order to connect to different people. It all depends on what you're looking to broadcast with the picture you're painting for your readers at that moment. Will it be Johnny Cash, a dark place with a slightly optimistic outlook? Or an Alessia Cara party place with a slightly darker, isolated, outlook? 000 Now, emotions don't all have to be sad and depressing! Hehehe! Of course not! Evoking emotion comes in the form of love and joy and blissful happiness as well! So, don't think that you have to have some kind of heavy drama going on in order to explain making an emotional connection with your audience. Some of my more lighthearted stories are extremely fun for me to write as well. "Kiss Of An Angel", "Jesse-101", and others have given me a few giggles and good vibes, typing them out. But still...joy is an emotion that you want to push forward when you're writing your story. Let your readers feel it like YOU feel it. Right? The slight shift in these two videos below is expressed mostly through an 'internal' and 'external' version of joy. Both by the same artist, same voice, same theme. However, in the first song (Which ALWAYS makes me smile when I hear it! Hehehe!) is all about feeling good. It has the kind of feeling that you get when you just wake up, the sun is shining, you've got the day to yourself, and everything is AWESOME! This is an internal joy. Nothing can touch you. It can't bother you. It just makes you feel good inside! The music, the lyrics...everything about it is all sunshine and good vibes! The second, while having the same theme, is more external. It's sharing that joy with other people. It's inspiring. It tells you that you can feel just as amazing as she does, if you only shrug off the bullshit and realize how beautiful you really are. (A song that I desperately needed to hear when it first came out and I was feeling down. Because...sighhh...'the internet'!) Both of these themes can connect to readers in a way that will keep them smiling until their cheeks hurt while reading your work. And that is what is going to make your writing memorable. It's more than a story. It's an experience. Something that they can go back to when they want to feel that way again. Something that they can share with a friend or family member when they're in need of connecting to that happiness the same way that they did. If only you knew how much power you had when it comes to affecting people on an emotional level. You really can change lives with what you write. One emotion at a time. 000 So, there we go! Emote control! It's not about me telling you what to write or how to write it. You all have the talent and the passion to figure it out for yourselves. Your very presence here proves that. This is just meant to shine a spotlight on a few things that you may have a feel for, but never really pay attention to. It's there. Many writers think about emotions in terms of joy, sadness, anger, jealousy, and indifference. But there are infinite shades of grey in between. Combinations and lethal cocktails and conflicting ideologies, that you can personalize and use to your story's benefit. But the first step is diving into those emotions, feeling them fully, and attempting to figure out how they work for you and for your readers. Learn the subtle shifts from one to another. Teach yourself how to deescalate or intensify those emotions at will. And, as always...practice, practice, practice. I've been doing this for almost 21 years now...and I still find new blind spots that I didn't pay attention to before. So get familiar with your own hearts, and go out there to give them your best. Do it better than I did. Thanks for the love and support you guys! I hope the music/writing comparison helped to get my point across. Like I said, it's kind of a hard thing to put into words. I love you all! And I'll see you next weekend with more! Also...one more... If you think you can't find the emotional power within yourself, check out the video below. This is a Latin pop artist, Abraham Mateo. He made this back when he was only TWELVE years old! How a twelve year old was able to tap into such heartfelt emotion is a complete mystery to me! But listen all the way through. By the end of this song, its like, "Who IS this kid???" It just takes passion, effort, and practice. That's it. If he can do it...you can too. Best of luck!
  12. Ronan Parke! Congrats, cutie! We wish you all the best! Another score for the pink team! MWAH!
  13. A brand new community question for all of you guys to chime in on for the next issue of Imagine Magazine! Every month, we try to get a variety of answers from you guys on a topic that we feel needs to be discussed out in the open. So if you've got any thoughts at all on any of these issues, please feel free to comment in the reply section below! You can use your screen name or answer anonymously if you prefer. You can also send me your answers at Comicality@webtv.net if you want. All responses will be posted in a future issue of Imagine! So dive in on the 1st and 15th of every month for a new topic! Become a part of the discussion! We'd love to hear what you have to say! Red flags! I know you've seen them before! You've sensed them, deep in your heart. In the back of your mind. Sometimes you just feel it in your bones! Lord knows that I have! You see a guy that is really cute, seems really approachable, has a good head on his shoulders and has a lot going for him, right? So maybe you decide to test him out. You get to know him a little better, and maybe even go out on a date together. Sounds like the normal progression towards a happy and healthy relationship, right? BUT... Sometimes, you might see a little red flag pop up that tells you that something isn't exactly right here. It might be subtle, and it might NOT be so subtle. Maybe he cringes every time you touch his arm. Maybe he spends the whole night talking about how wonderful his 'ex' was. Maybe he flirts with another guy at the bar. Or maybe he punches a wall because your reservation was pushed back at the restaurant. Somewhere between a few 'off colored' comments, to a lustful grope of your ass without permission...you may suddenly be alerted to the idea that this may not be the guy for you. But how can you tell ahead of time? For all of our younger Shackers, and some of our older Shackers too, who might be trying out this dating thing for the first time...what constitutes as a 'red flag' when it comes to finding someone to call your own? Are they possessive? Jealous? Do they suddenly pull out a burnt spoon and a lighter to shoot up with heroin? Hehehe! When looking for a companion, what would alert you to stay away from certain people before that even becomes a problem that you don't want to deal with? Let us know down below! Chances are...if your first date has a guy asking you, "Do you want to see a dead body? I brought condoms!"...you may want to back out of that situation and run for the hills as soon as possible! Hehehe!
  14. Happy 15th of March, folks! I'm just letting you know that this month's issue of Imagine Magazine has been posted and is available for you guys to read! A ton of new chapters from your favorite Imagine authors are waiting for you, new articles, and more there waiting for ya! So, enjoy! And be sure to give your support for all of the authors involved with each new issue. They are true talents, and we're happy to have them be a part of the team! Thanks, guys! If any of you guys want to participate in future issues, and want to showcase your work to a new audience to increase your fanbase...drop me a line at Comicality@webtv.net and let me know! I'll be sure to save you a spot! K? Take care! Love you lots! And I'll seezya soon! https://imagine-magazine.org/
  15. Alright, folks! Its up! Enjoy! Ummm...the magazine, I mean!

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