Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Hurt and Maim Your Darlings

Entertainment is strange. Like the meme going around social media pointing out how a random soldier was terribly injured saving the lives of his comrades and there was no news coverage of his heroism and recovery, yet some ex-boyfriend of a reality show star ODs in a brothel and that info is front page.

No, I don't believe millions truly care about this situation as it has no real direct impact on them. (Interested, yes. Concerned, yes. Wishing the families involved condolences, of course.) But I do believe that people in general seek entertainment, and where once we had fictional TV drama like Dallas and NCIS and everyone wondered what the writers would do next, the reality TV craze has certainly upped the stakes by giving us real life drama. Though occasionally of the 'reality' reeks of being scripted, a serious and sad situation such as the current one is golden to the producers...because people presented to the mass viewers as entertainment are actually going through something horrible.

There is no director to yell, "Cut!" after which all the actors and crew go home. It's really happening. It should really be the private domain of the people involved.

Readers of your story ARE the people involved in your private, fictional domain.

We've all heard William Faulkner's advice to 'kill your darlings' (on the page, of course). But hurting them first has the benefit of making the outcome uncertain, of creating that question in the reader's mind, that question that keeps them turning the page. (Or tuning in, in series TV formats.)

So yes, hurt your darlings. Then milk that situation with all the ferocity of a reality TV producer. Show me the emotions of the injured, of the people who love the injured, of the people who hate the injured. Who is standing by helpless? Who has the power to do something? Can they? Will they?

Here's an excerpt below in which I show you Persephone's injured mother, the reactions of those around her, and expose her mother's motives for not going immediately with the EMT. Her mother is not an altruistic character...I could have played the scene without her being hurt. But I upped the stakes and let the character do something that seems out of character, but truthfully, fighting to finish what she started, consequences be damned, is Eris all the way.

Excerpt from Arcane Circle:
Persephone's mother, Eris, has taken a bullet or two to the arm, shielding an unconscious Johnny with her own body. Eris has been bandaged and police are coming after having heard shots fired. Eris insists they finish the spell they started. Persephone stepped in to do so and found that taking over someone else's spell mid-working is much harder than expected.

    I dropped down on one knee. My body was drained, my shoulders ached, and yet my soul felt electrified.
    “Difficult?” Eris asked, gritting her teeth.
    “Yeah. Difficult.”
   She gave a quiet laugh. “The next one’s going to be a real bitch.”

** police and EMTs arrive, try to force Eris to leave**

     Eris held up her left hand, index finger vertical. “Just one more. One more spell and we’re done.”
   “Your needs are more urgent, ma’am.”
   “Mom, please!” Lance begged. {Seph's little brother}
   “Lance, you know how much it means to me to earn Persephone’s trust. I. Must. Do this.”
    I had been about to ask her to leave as well, but that shut me up. I’m important to her?
    “I don’t want to lose you,” Lance said.
    “I know. I love you, too, bitch boy, but if I fuck this up, I won’t want to be here anyway.”
    “Ma’am. Your fingers look dark; that’s not a good sign. You should get to the hospital immediately.” Frizz’s {EMT} voice was more authoritative.
    “If I leave, both that man and I are fucked.”
    “How so?” Nana cut in. She was pale, strained, her hands wringing. She was as worried as Lance. The prospect of watching her estranged child die wasn’t a welcome one.
    “I took something from him with the last tat. I have to give it back or all of this will be for nothing.”
    “What did you take?” I demanded.
    “You’re probably going into shock, ma’am,” the medic announced firmly and loudly. It was a signal that she was about to forcibly take control of the patient. “This is irrational. Let us take you to the hospital.”
    “Everyone . . . just stop fucking talking.” Even as she spoke, the hair at the nape of my neck prickled; {Eris} was calling the ley again. With her left hand and a scream of blinding pain, Eris snatched up the athame that had been discarded on the floor. She twisted and held it at Zhan’s throat. To the medic she said, “Stop pushing me. Let us finish this. Then I’ll go.”
    For a tense second, no one moved, not even to breathe.
    Frizz nodded. “Everyone here is a witness that you refused.”
    “Back away.” The medic didn’t move fast enough and Eris shouted, “Get the fuck back!”
    Nana crossed her arms and tapped her foot on the floor. She looked as scared and frail as ever I had seen her, but her eyes were defiant. “I know you’ve been shot, Eris, but that’s enough of that f-word.”
    I lit the black candle and placed it on the tray. I took the last Baggie from the box and sprinkled comfrey and patchouli on the black dragon, following its coiled body with a trail of the herbs. It smelled good. Earthy. That was when I felt Menessos rise, far away in Cleveland. Wholeness surrounded me, and I took it as a good omen.
    “I invoke the authority of Saturn,” Eris said. I repeated it. “Where the crossroads meet, where the path is chosen.”
    I stilled. Crossroads.
    “Where the crossroads meet, where the path is chosen,” she repeated.
    I said the words. Taking up the shiny hematite, I dipped it in the Dragon’s Blood oil and followed the lines of the dragon as Eris murmured, “Saturn, planet named for the Roman god of harvest, with a sickle in his mighty hands . . . hear me . . .”
    Hecate also carried a sickle.
    I gazed at the dragon tattoo.
    And Hecate’s chariot is drawn by dragons.
    She continued, “You are also the god of the golden ages in history. A golden age is coming. A golden age is coming.”
    I knew that, astrologically, the planet we called Saturn was ruled by Capricorn, and together they symbolized the settling of accounts. What we were doing here, the unlocking of Johnny’s tattoos and seeing the penance my mother was suffering . . . it definitely seemed more like karmic comeuppance than a golden age.
   “Help me stand,” Eris said to Zhan.
    “That’s not a good idea,” my sentinel answered.
    Eris dropped the athame. “Do it anyway.”
    Zhan knocked the dagger spinning onto my side of the circle. I helped her get my mother onto her feet. She was weak, moaning, and leaned heavily on the table with her left arm. Zhan stood behind her, steadying her. “The hematite.” Eris held her shaking left hand out to me. When I gave it to her, she placed it on the dragon’s mouth, then grabbed at her right hand to maneuver it. She cried out and ended with “Help me.”
    “Ma’am, really—” the medic began.
    Nana grabbed the EMT’s elbow. “Zip it. And keep it zipped.”
    Zhan assisted in getting Eris’s right hand to rest upon the stone and the dragon’s gaping maw. My mother held her right hand in place with her left. Staring down at the now-covered dragon’s head, I could guess how it would bite at her. Under her left hand, the fingers of her right
were darkening. Eris’s knees buckled but Zhan held her firm.
    “Mother . . .” I said.
    “Help me,” she said. “Hold my hands there no matter what.”


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