Monday, May 20, 2013

The Wolf Gift--Chapter 3

My new favorite album is a tie between the Little Miss Sunshine soundtrack and The Immediate's Trailerhead: Triumph album. When I die I want my funeral to either start or end with Tales of the Electric Romeo first because it is awesome and second because that is the best title in the universe.

I also have an appointment with a real live counselor. I caved. I hate getting counciling, I hate needing help, I really hate asking my mom for this because she starts out "here's the number" and ends somewhere along the lines of "...but you need to be nicer to yourself". Personally, I think I am as nice to myself as I deserve. Which probably means I need to see the councelor.

Hopefully this one will be a good one.

Right. So where are we?

A LOUD CRASH. Glass breaking. He woke up. The lights were out. He couldn’t see anything. Then he heard Marchent scream.
Oh, RIGHT, with what ought to have been chapter one. Given that there will eventually be a police report made (this dude is so whitebread square OF COURSE HE WILL CALL THE COPS) we could have done all the introductions and guilt trips over sleeping with somebody who isn't his girlfriend after the action happened.

(And if Ruben doesn't call the cops he is TSTL.)

One thing I have noticed about Anne Rice, and it's something that drives me absolutely batshit, is that she likes filter words. I mean, I like them too but I'm trying to wean myself off them. Filter words are crutches for writers who don't actually want to write about whatever it is onscreen. They're a way of filtering (duh) the action and keeping yourself away from the scariness. I just re-read a couple of action scenes from Cerulean Sins, and while LKH has it too, it's not quite as bad. Ruben chases after the source of Marchant screaming, somebody grabs him, and the book breaks out in a severe case of the was-doings. Ruben was grabbed and was strangled while the flashlight was rolling on the floor. This is the pairing of death in my opinion because it both shoves unneeded words in there AND removes the reader from the scene. Adding "was" to a sentence makes it past-past tense and it makes action passive. It screams "I DON'T WANT TO DEAL WITH THIS", and it's something that any half good editor (or author with Word's "find" function and a shitload of patience) could fix. (...yes. I have done this. Yes. It is exactly as boring as it sounds. Yes. I recommend you do this too.) And everything is filtered through Ruben's perspective. He heard things happen. He saw things happen. This is the literary effect of watching a movie through several layers of cotton batting. It's boring.

And given that Ruben is having the everloving shit beat out of him, that's a bad thing.

Here's a good example of what I'm talking about:

Reuben saw the flash of metal, and felt the sharp stab of the blade going into his stomach. He had never felt rage like he was feeling it now, but as the two men beat him and kicked at him, he felt the blood pumping out of his stomach.
You've even got that beautiful triple filter with a helping of tell, don't show up there in bold. Up until now I wasn't aware that Ruben was feeling (hah!) anything at all.

So the two Random Dudes are attacking him, and then suddenly a Random Dog bursts in, attacks the attackers (I think? It's not very clear) and then bites Ruben on the face before letting go and sitting on him.

And then the Random Dog is gone and Ruben is dying. And he elects to take his sweet fucking time in the process. He digs his phone out but drops it. Picks it up. Drops it again. Sirens show up even though he didn't manage to call anybody, and...uh...

Yeah, writing from the perspective of somebody drifting in and out of consciousness sucks. It's not going to flow well and being clear wouldn't be realistic, but being realistic makes your reader want to punch your book. That said, (and I am in the glass house on this one) why do writers like to knock their main characters out so much? Nevermind that it is medically unsound to have a character get knocked out by a punch/blow to the head and get back up again (if they're out for more than a few seconds they have brain damage. If they're out a few minutes they risk forgetting how to read) is there one good damn reason why we couldn't have had a clear description of what's happening to Ruben? Like, have him be one of those rare people who can describe scary hospital things as they happen? King's account of getting hit by a van is very clear, very concise and pretty entertaining, given how his hips were attached to his body wrong at the time. This is a critical scene in the book and it kind of reads like Ruben got sideswiped by a carnival and stuck under the merry-go-round.

They get him on the gurney (Oh, I'm sorry. He was on the gurney) and get him into the ambulance and that is the end of the chapter.'s still better than Anita Blake.


  1. The book is still terrible. And I'm glad you're going to counseling. Like I keep telling my tumblr kids, everyone who isn't actively out abusing and torturing deserves to give themselves the same compassion they themselves would give to a fellow person in pain.

  2. I also have an appointment with a real live counselor.


    OK, so pretty boy has some scars on his face now. Who wants to bet that they're dramatic Scars of Awesome?