Feste's Lute

Scribbles & Sketches of the Unspeakable

Tag: writing

kung fu grippe: down the rabbit hole


Writing good fiction requires good research.

Sometimes that research leads you to places you’d least expect.

And sometimes those places lead to still other places. Darker places. Hidden places. Places where you get lost and wander and begin to wonder what is real and what isn’t…

kung fu grippe: down the rabbit hole

Many pro authors say you should try a dumb trick if your writing is moving frustratingly slowly: just banish a certain part of your A to Z for a bit. This paragraph can’t contain any “A”s. Try it. You find that your brain has to slow down and focus on that arbitrary limit. It distracts you, making you pick all of your words with caution.

Okay, that was just one paragraph without using the letter “E” and it took me about three hours to assemble. It’s a great writing trick because all too often, you get trapped by your own writing style. Water carves grooves in rock after a number of years, you see. When that happens, that’s becomes the only path the water wants to take. An arbitrary but ironclad rule forces your writing to flow into new directions.

The Wheel Of Fortune Comment Moderation System – Andy Ihnatko’s Celestial Waste of Bandwidth (BETA)

A great post on website comments that introduced me to a new idea.

When it rains…

There’s probably a world with gasoline-filled fountain pens and phosphorus quills.

And, in that world, Anons dominate the spilled ink tag.

Just sayin’.

Here are the two states in which you may exist: person who writes, or person who does not. If you write: you are a writer. If you do not write: you are not. Aspiring is a meaningless null state that romanticizes Not Writing. It’s as ludicrous as saying, “I aspire to pick up that piece of paper that fell on the floor.” Either pick it up or don’t. I don’t want to hear about how your diaper’s full. Take it off or stop talking about it.

On Cut-ups (Or Why *Jist* is My Favorite Piece in Months)

Yesterday I started the morning with two fragments rolling around in my text drawer.

Piece 1:

A latent allure,
assured asides
muttered at hats
on brazen brims
a madam’s whim

And Piece 2:

Beneath the cut
is hoary bone,
swiveling teeth
and vulture beaks

Neither one seemed to want to go anywhere, content to sit and stagnate. When this happens, I start to think about shaking up my familiarity with the words involved. A few of you might have noticed that I occasionally use the cut-up tag. To do that I go to the Dada Poetry Generator and shove everything loose thing I have inside.

So this came out:

allure, whim implied. Beneath is teeth
allure, asides on a whim implied. and beaks
A asides muttered bone, swiveling
muttered on brazen madam’s the is vulture
latent allure, Beneath is vulture
A latent at a Beneath bone, teeth

Which, to me, already seems much more interesting. So I used the first two lines, editing to change it all to dialogue. Changing articles, subject/verb agreement, changing on to of, etc.


a whim implied.
“Beneath its teeth, allure,”

an aside of a whim,

“and beaks.”

I love this because it reminds me of something a Skeksis might say. The voice becomes dark, especially when it is broken apart and adds “and beaks.”

Then I began chopping and reorganizing the next lines. “Muttering bone, swiveling muttered” is just the sort of repetition I love most (and really why I use the generator, to find what repetition has interesting emphasis). Originally, the bones would have muttered to (not on) brazen madams, but it seemed way too cliché, so boys instead. My favorite aspect of these last lines is the association of the vulture with allure. The smell of death, only attractive to certain types. Latent, like most desire… waiting for the right scent.

A asides muttered bone, swiveling
muttered on brazen madam’s the is vulture
latent allure, Beneath is vulture
A latent at a Beneath bone, teeth

The final product thrilled me, because of the interesting intersections of meaning. A whim is warning me. Why would I trust something so flighty as a whim, especially if it doesn’t come out and say it, but instead implies the danger? Next, why would I fear allure? As I learn that allure lies under teeth and rests with beaks, it makes more sense. Now, muttering bones warn youth of the danger. The allure in the form of a vulture latent beneath bone and teeth… I like the cadence, like the consonants’ compatibility, I like everything about it.


a whim implied.
“Beneath its teeth, allure,”

an aside of a whim,

“and beaks.”
Muttering bone,
swiveling muttered

to brazen boys,

“The vulture

is latent beneath…”
“…beneath the bone
and teeth.”

But I’m weird.


I like these recent titles. Sometimes dissassociated from the piece or linked vaguely. In the rest, they’re absolutely crucial. If nothing else, this has been an interesting experiment for that reason.

Because I’m really picky about my titles. When they aren’t present, you can be sure that I thought about the piece and felt that one would only distract. I wouldn’t simply number my work. I’d never just use a line from the body. A title should always modify or multiply or, much more ideally, subvert the theme entirely.

I Love Muse

Great band, great songs, great concert… But it’s bloody hard to write with one of their songs in my head…

On Writers and Writer’s Block

I’ll just put this out there. I consider myself to be a writer. Even more than this, I consider most of those I follow to be writers. You might ask my criteria. It’s simple. If you write, you’re a writer. This makes things simple, and, as writers, we can then begin to use our modifiers for more clarity. You might be a good writer, a bad writer, a professional writer (which would suggest occupation {some would associate money with this, but let’s be honest, money has little to do with writing}), or even a lapsed writer.

Writer’s block, I think, is mostly something that affects our judgement, not our creativity (this is not a new idea, I just want to show my allegiance). We say we can’t think of anything to write, but we often mean that we can’t think of anything good. We say that we haven’t written anything, but we usually mean that everything we start to write is bad. So my solution to break writer’s block is simple, I take away the need for what I write to have any virtue. I work on something that I do not take seriously (this isn’t hard for me because I take very few things seriously).

A good example of this comes from when I used to play at songwriting. I had a country song that I held in reserve to work on when writer’s block pounced. Since I had no real artistic hopes for the project, work would go easily and I could usually switch back to my regular project in a short time. Because beginning to work without self-editing is the most effective cure for writer’s block in most cases.

Here’s an example that I wrote recently working through a twinge of block:

Gnus will chew
this much is true
they’ll chew
your sadness
chew your shoes.
Bereft of any
other task
they’ll gladly
fix a stew.

You’ll say, Billy, that doesn’t look that much different from your normal ridiculous poetry. This is true. But, for me, it helps.


Sometimes I’m afraid certain abilities will fade away. I’m terrible at blindly touch typing these days, because I rarely need to do so.

It feels like at some point, my muscle memory that gets your and you’re right will just drift off and strengthen some grammar nazi in the middle of the night. Then, instead of just being embarrassed by forgetting to format my line-breaks correctly, I’ll just have to smile like an old man who decided to forego his dentures.

Sometime Today…

… I’ll probably post a small prose piece. It’s not something I do often since I really don’t think I’m good at prose. I’m bad at description, bad at dialogue, bad in general in that form. So when I do post prose, it’s almost always inspired by dreams.

Once in a very long while I’ll have a nightmare involving zombies. I’m not a horror buff, so there’s not a lot of external influence, but in my dreams zombies are always better than us. Smarter, more virtuous in many ways. Last night’s dream continued the theme.