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Thursday, November 1, 2018

NaNoWriMo - Day 0.5

On this beginning of Nov. 1st, I decided I would give a half-day progress report.

So, I attended the Denver NaNo kickoff party. I went in hopes of getting to know some people. As it turns out, it wasn't as organized as Austin's kickoff party used to be. I arrived at the designated coffee shop, walked in, looked around to see if anyone was in charge. No one approached me. The first person to actually talk to me was handing out "grab bags". She told me "welcome". Aside from some brief interaction of a practical nature with two other people, that was it as far as "getting to know" anyone. Rather, I noticed I was the only older guy there. Most of the people came into the shop, sat with friends, and talked for two hours until midnight. Aside from a brief announcement by whoever was in charge and the countdown to midnight, I could have been alone at home doing the same thing.

I'm not knocking the group. I'm sure it tends to be more of a college thing, and so has gravitated to what it currently is. I'm an intruder to that group. I had expectations, I suppose, that it would be like Austin where I knew different folks and all and there were a lot of college age folks, but there were also a lot of older people like me. So, chalk up one to knowing better next time.

On a positive note, however, I got around 1200 words written in 1.5 hours. Not great, but not bad for a PD patient on DBS. I can type faster but still not quite as fast as I did before PD. At least I can make a good run at getting 50K in a month now. Before it would have been very difficult to pull off.

So I wrote until around 1:20 am, then packed it up and went home. Today's schedule is to go do a Zumba class, then I'll return home, probably take a nap, then see how much I can get written before the day ends. I'll report tomorrow on how well I did today. Until then, see you later!

Thursday, October 25, 2018

It Is Finally NaNo Time Again!

After a four year break in any attempts at doing National Novel Writing Month, I'm now taking another stab at it.

For those who don't know, National Novel Writing Month, otherwise shortened to NaNoWriMo, or its even shorter version, NaNo, is when writers from all over the world get together online to encourage each other to write a novel in a month of at least 50K words.

"Nay, nay," I can hear someone saying. "You can't write a novel in a  month! At least not a publishable novel."

"Nay, nay," I say, most of my published novels were originally written during NaNo. The only exceptions to that is Reality's Dawn, and two that are recently done but not published yet, Reality Game and Rebellion. And all of those the bulk of them were written in around a month or less. Professional writers write even faster than that.

What takes me so long is editing!

Anyway, I'm going to write my third novel this year, come November. Except, this one will be special. It is my Parkinson's novel. I plan upon publishing it, to have most, if not all, of the proceeds go to Parkinson's research. I'll probably donate it to the Michael J. Fox Foundation.

It is called "Deep Brain Invasion," and obvious spin on Deep Brain Stimulation, otherwise known as DBS. DBS is a procedure I went through last September where two leads are planted into one's brain, where electrical impulses from a battery pack, also implanted, block the erroneous signals from the brain that cause the tremors and problems with other muscle movements. It isn't a cure, but does help people like me live a "normal" life for a while longer. Hopefully, for years. Prior to this, around every four hours I would take a dose of my medication that would result in about an hour of feeling "normal." The other three hours, using my left hand wasn't easy.

Anyway, due to that, I not only can type more freely, I also have a story for my Parkinson's novel. I came up with the idea shortly after the surgery, and wrote out a short story that will end up being my first chapter. I've written one other chapter. Now I simply need to write another 50k words this coming month to hopefully finish it out.

So this is special for several reasons. The last time I finished a novel for NaNo was in 2012, Virtual Game which is currently out for sale. That was the 4th year I had ever won NaNo. It was to be my last . . . until now, that is. I fully expect to finish this year, and hopefully for years to come.

Anyway, I wanted to let my readers know that I'll be posting my progress and other related things, hopefully each day of November. If you want to follow my progress, subscribe. If you don't want to be bombarded with daily or near daily posts of my progress during November, then unsubscribe, at least for November.

You have been warned!

But seriously, I hope you'll stick around and cheer me on to the finish line.

Friday, October 19, 2018

7 Suggestions to Writing Action Scenes

Here in Colorado, I missed a chance to attend the local writer group this past Sunday. Basically, I'm not used to going to anything on Sunday afternoon. So I missed even the reminder I had set to go off to, you know, to remind me of the upcoming event. I regretted missing it, because an author was going to discuss writing action scenes. Since I do write such scenes, I was interested in what he would have to add to my knowledge base.

So, since I missed that, I thought I would share what I do know about writing action scenes. Then I'll go next month to the next meeting. If I remember, that is. To look at my phone, that is.

So, what do I know about writing action scenes? I know I don't know it all, but what I do know, I'll share.

Definition of an action scene.


First, we need to define exactly what we are talking about when we refer to "action" scenes. We are talking about whenever any action that moves the plot forward needs to take place. It could be running from something or someone, or a fight, or a car chase, or even a board game. Any action which involves increasing tension until it resolves to some degree.

A lot of authors say they don't like writing action scenes. If so, they are probably doing it wrong, and it comes through in whatever action scenes they do write. What they generally mean is they don't like writing fight scenes. But an action scene is much more than fighting, as I've described above. Most every book will have some action scenes in it, even romance. Thus the need for us to examine how to write them in a manner that not only becomes enjoyable, but realistic.

Now, here are seven suggestions I have for writing action scenes.

1. Keep in mind the purpose of an action scene


Why have an action scene? What do they accomplish?  Two words: tension and resolution. That's why so many climaxes use them so often. But the goal, whether one is talking about action scenes in movies or in a book are to create tension about what will happen to the character, to put him or her in jeopardy that you are not sure they will escape. If you are having an action scene purely for its own sake, you're missing the whole point of having one in there. Instead of it being an important plot-moving element, it becomes mere plot decoration. Sort of like having a token action scene because it is expected.

Basic rule of thumb, if it does nothing for the tension of the story and the character(s), it is best to cut it or just say it happened without describing it.

2. Action scenes have a narrow focus.


By that, I mean that when a character goes into a battle or such, he or she focuses on the battle rather than a lot of other stuff going on around them. They won't notice the color of a drapery unless it falls on them or their opponent. So sensory data gets narrowed to whatever is going on in the battle or action. Think of all the adrenaline going through their veins. They will tend to only focus on the task at hand, or if well trained, only relevant data like noticing a fist coming at them from the side.

So your writing will need to reflect that narrow focus. Don't take time to describe any scenery except for that which directly is relevant to the action, to make sense of it. For instance, you could say something like, "A blue Dodge van careened toward them." But you wouldn't want to say, "We ran past a blue Dodge van as I plunged my fist toward his face."

To be realistic, you only should notice what your character would in that situation.

3. Action scenes happen fast.


This is good news for people who write an action scene: you don't need to spend pages writing out blow by blow accounts of everything. What does this mean for writing them?

It means action scenes should only be as long as required to describe the action adequately enough that the reader doesn't get lost. Probably one of the harder action scenes I've written was in my book, Mind Game, where I describe a space battle between three ships. It was a challenge to give enough detail that people could follow or get a picture in their minds as to what was happening in this three-dimensional-movement environment, but not so much that I made it appear longer than it would in real life.

Let's focus on sword fighting, for instance. Most sword fights happen in two or three moves. You rarely see the types of sword fights you see in movies where they battle it out for several minutes. It usually takes 2 to 5 seconds. Therefore, your writing should reflect that. If you have them swinging at each other more than three times, it starts to work its way toward non-realism.

That also means you'll want to use brief, short, sentences to describe action scenes. Conjunctions are not your friend if they are tying two long and complete sentences together. Break them up. The only thoughts of the character need to be focused on the battle or action at hand. This is not, generally, the time for long monologues or thoughtlogs as the case may be.

4. Focus more on the experience of the pov character than on the action itself.


That could be counter to what I just said above, but a balance needs to be maintained. Describe the action as necessary, but what the reader is really interested in is the character's experience. This is where showing can be very handy. Take these two examples:

Example 1: I hit him in the mouth and he slammed his fist into my gut.

Example 2: I swung my fist. It rammed into his jaw with a loud crack. My lungs expelled their air as a force slammed into my gut. I collapsed. The steely taste of blood rose into my mouth.

See how the second example raises the tension more than the first? The first just conveys what is happening. The second conveys what is happening to the character, what he or she is experiencing.

5. Don't have your characters talk a lot in an action scene.


What they do say should be short, to the point, and matching the drama of the moment. You might get "Look out!" or "Duck!" What you shouldn't get, unless your writing a literary piece, is long thoughts and discussions that put all the action on pause.

Just think, if you are in an action scene, like I was one time after my car spun out on the side of the road. The car's wheel stub was on fire, I didn't talk much. I ran as fast as I could to a nearby gas station to tell them to call the fire dept.

You wouldn't expect (though you often get) long discussions between characters. Or friendly banter like Spiderman or Deadpool. Those two are character traits. You don't often see much dialog (there are always exceptions) for instance, in Captain America's fights. There always tends to be pauses in the action to discuss something, but other than for characterization, you don't want most of your characters to say a lot during action scenes. Whatever they do say, should be to move the action forward or to build further tension.

6. Don't attempt to mimic the movies.


Movies use a lot of action scenes. Camera work is designed for it. You can see what is happening, and just seeing the main character dangling over that pool of acid is enough to keep you glued to the screen to see whether and how he escapes, or not, as the case my be.

However, as in point 4 above, just describing what happened from a camera pov is boring in writing. I've had people tell me they tend to skim and/or skip action scenes in most novels. The reason is they don't increase the tension in a novel as they do on the silver screen.

That's why point 4 is so important to include in any action scene. The tension will come more from what will happen to the character. So whether we are talking being hit or being dealt a bad hand in a poker game, we had better know what it means to the character's pov or you haven't conveyed good tension.

7. Your point of view will be an important factor how and what is described.


The above assumes you are writing in first or third limited person. If you are using an omniscient pov, however, your tactics can change. Keeping in mind the building of tension, you will have more freedom to get by with abbreviated action scenes. You can pull back for a broad view of a fight, as J. R. Tolkien does in Lord of the Rings, or you have the freedom to go into a specific head for a more personal view.

In either case, you do what will build tension most. For instance, I recall the scene in the movie, Lord of the Rings, where you have an extended fight scene with orcs and Legolas at Helms Deep. However, in the book, Tolkien only describes it in a sentence or two, referring to the sun glinting off Legolas' blade as he swung his sword over and over. In that pov, he could get away with that brief description. But to have focused on what happened, blow by blow, as he killed orc after orc, would have been tedious and wouldn't have built the tension as it did in the movie. Some complain that the movie's fight scenes were too long as well.

In first or limited third person pov, you would have to use a telling transition to skip over all that, something like, "My muscles grew weak as I hacked away at orc after orc. After several minutes of killing, I saw a bright light coming over the hill." But the omniscient pov has the value of being more descriptive in this instance.

Summary


So keep tension in your action scenes. They should build tension through them until it resolves, or partially resolves. All the above points focus on that aspect and making them as realistic as possible. If you can accomplish that while breaking any of the above suggestions, more power to you. But keeping the above points in mind will help to keep your action scenes pulling the reader into them, instead of something to skip over.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

The Scary Ride

My Halloween story for 2018. Enjoy!

-----------------------

“Mom, can I go?” I held out a flier to her. It read, “This Halloween, ride the Spookiest Roller Coaster you’ve ever rode in your LIFE!”

My mom scanned the flier. “Stephen, is Greg going with you to this?”

I nodded. “Everyone will go there. I don’t want to be the only one in school who hasn’t gone.”

She shrugged. “Don’t see any reason why not. But, be back in time to take your younger brother out trick-or-treating. Okay?”

“Oh, I guess.” Though I’d rather spend the evening with my friends. But I couldn’t tell mom that. I smiled instead. “Thanks, mom.”

“You’re welcome, son.” She returned to cooking dinner. Was that a hint of a smile I saw on her as she turned away from me?

I pulled the phone from my pocket as I walked into the living room. I called Greg. When he answered, I said, “Hi Greg. I’m in. Mom gave her okay.”

“Me too. But only if I was back in time to help with the dishing out the candy.”

I rolled my eyes. “Yeah, my mom wants me back in time to take my brother out trick-or-treating.”

“Bummer.”

“Yeah, but it is what it is” I smiled. “Though, she didn’t say exactly when I had to be back.”

He laughed. “Be careful. When the clock strikes midnight . . .”

I chuckled at his attempt at humor. “What? Will I turn into a vampire?”

“Or worse, a ghost.”

“See you later, Joker.”

He continued laughing. “Bye, Casper.”

The line went dead.


# # #


The entrance appeared to be a standard “scary” ride entrance. A simple sign that had letters dripping “blood” that said, “Scary Roller Coaster: The Scariest Ride of Your Life!”

I pointed at the sign. “I’ll be the judge of that.”

Greg brushed his auburn hair back. “Yeah, these rides rarely live up to their hype.”

After several minutes, we finally entered the carts. Attendants came along to ensure everyone’s bar was locked in place and seat belts were snapped together.

Over the loudspeaker, a cackling voice said, “Enjoy your scare!”  The ride lurched forward and we entered a dark hole that the rails wound into. In the darkness I heard the clanking of the chains as the carts were pulled toward the top of a drop.  The tension grew greater with each second that brought us nearer the drop that we couldn’t see.

Finally, with a flash of lights, a giant stood on the top of the tracks as we sped past his legs. He reached down, barely missing the last cart as we careened down the first big dip. A dozen or so ghost lit up the dark as they flew just above us. Over the loudspeakers we could hear “Ohooooooooooo” and laughing, mixed in with screams from people in the carts.

Then the whole place lit up with sparks. Screams came from somewhere deep inside the building. Then everything grew dark. The coaster continued on its journey in silence, but nothing else happened for a few seconds. Then light once again lit up the building and died off quickly. The ghost came back to life, glowing as before. Except, this time, they brushed against me as they flew by. And the feeling was like nothing I’d ever felt before. A deathly coldness numbed my body where they had brushed against me.

As the roller coaster reached a new peak and started to dive into a new dip, a row of traditional monsters appeared beside us and reached out. Except this time, they were grabbing people.  They had problems pulling anyone out belted in as we were. One person in front of me screamed as the monster pulled so hard on him, only to have him slip from his grasp.

This was either a very convincing acting job, or something had gone terribly wrong. The facial expressions of the monster appeared genuinely disappointed at not pulling the guy out of his seat. One thing was for sure: these were not robotic monsters.

Then the lights darkened for a few seconds. When it reappeared, a vampire sat in the seat right in front of me. The vampire leaned over and sunk its teeth into the neck of the person sitting next to him. I screamed, by reaction to what I was seeing.  Then the vampire turned its head and looked me in the eyes. These were not the eyes of a robot, but of a real person, who now had the blood of his last meal dripping from his teeth.

His stare sent shivers down my spine. Then the lights went out again. Someone tried to nuzzle in between me and Greg. I couldn’t take it anymore. As the coaster continued rolling through banks and turns, I undid my seat belt and lifted my bar. Centripetal force kept me pinned in.

The lights came on and Greg no longer sat there. But the vampire did. He started to reach over toward me. About then, the coaster went through a twisting roll. I barely had time to grab the bar before I fell out of my seat. The vampire, however, wasn’t so lucky. He fell downward. As the cart came out of the twist and started going up, I worked my way back into my seat and buckled back in.

My heart was pumping now. But it raced even faster when I saw a bat flying beside the coaster. As it attempted to move toward the cart, I kept batting it away. Then as if it willed it to happen, the lights fell dark again. I kept swinging my arms wildly in hopes I would keep the vampire away.

The lights reemerged from the darkness and my heart froze. The coaster careened toward a “track under repair” sign, with the frayed edges of the track hanging over a precipice. I started frantically trying to get my seat belt undone. I pulled on it frantically, but nothing would give. As the end of the track approached, I braced myself. I hoped mom would understand why I missed taking my brother out, assuming I even survived this crazy ride.

The cart blew through the sign, which busted into fragments. Then the cart sank, but I felt something pull me up and out of the cart. When the lights came back on, I looked up and saw the vampire, holding me with his hands, flying through the air.  I was doomed to become a vampire!

We landed on a platform a little ways off. Then he let go and smiled.

I said, “Don’t you want to drink my blood?”

He shook his head. “Nope. I enjoy a good beer now and then, but no blood.”

I stared at him. My eyes, no doubt, betrayed my confusion.

“That’s because,” he said, “you’re on ‘You’ve Been Had’!”

I blinked. “What?”

A door opened up to the side of the platform and everyone yelled, “Surprise!” Cameras surrounded me.

Greg approached me and said, “We got you good, eh?”

“You mean, this was all an elaborate set up?”

“With the help of some good actors, yes.”

I breathed in deep. “Everyone on the cart was an actor?”

Greg laughed, “Several, not everyone.” He pointed at me, “You should have seen your face! We’ve got the whole thing on video.”

Mom’s face popped up in the crowd. “Which we’ll have fun watching over and over again. Now, Stephen, let’s get on with trick-or-treating.”

I pointed a finger at Greg. “I’ll get you back for this, if it is the last thing I do.” Because, I thought, the ride almost was the last thing I would ever do.

“One things for sure,” Greg said. “This was the scariest ride of your life.”

I breathed a sign of relief. My heart still pumped hard from the experience. “On that, we definitely agree.”

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Cosmic Cowboy

It is said we all run from something. I was running. Probably for most of my life to tell the truth. On one such occasion, a special man came into my life. I had decided to move to a seaside community of North Carolina, named Cedar Island. That’s when I encountered him. A man known as Cosmic Cowboy. I say a man, only because he was as old as a man. Yet he only appeared to be around eight years old.

He stood there at the end of my driveway when I pulled up in the moving van, as if he was waiting for me. And for all I knew, perhaps he was, now that I know what I know.

“Hi, Conan,” he said as he examined me.

“How did you know my name?”

He pointed at my head. “Your hat says it.”

My hat. Of course. I’d forgotten my name was written across it. A gift from my wife one anniversary. “So, what’s your name?”

“Everyone calls me Cosmic Cowboy.”

“Everyone? Including your mother?” I wondered at such a strange name, if true.

“Yep, even my mother. Says so right on my birth certificate.”

“That’s a strange name to give a kid. Where is your mother?”

“She’s dead.”

“Oh. I’m sorry to hear that. What did she die of?” I watched his eyes for signs of sorrow, but didn’t see much.

“Old age.”

Old age? “How did that happen? You don’t look to be any older than 8 or 10 at the most.  Did she give birth to you in her latter years?”

The strange boy shook his head. “No, she was quite young when she had me.” Then he stared at me as if that should make perfect sense.

“What about your Father? Did he die of old age too?” I asked.

“Nope. He died of hard work.”

By now, this was starting to sound ridiculous. I scanned the area, looking for someone watching us and laughing.

I returned my attention back to the boy. “All right, Cosmic. If you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a van to unload. Though your welcome to help, if you’re able.”

“No problem,” he responded. “I’ve already unloaded it for you.”

I glanced at the parked van and back to Cosmic. “You did not.”

He waved a hand toward the truck. “See for yourself.”

I stepped toward the moving truck and slid open the door. It was empty! My first thought was that he had stolen my stuff, somehow. “What did you do with it?”

“I put it in the house, naturally.”

I raced to the house and opened the locked door. There, before my eyes, was all my furniture, as if I’d worked several hours moving everything. This was impossible!

I turned to see Cosmic walking up the steps toward me. I pointed inside the house. “I, I, I, I don’t understand. How did you . . .”

He smiled. “I told you, I’m Cosmic Cowboy.”

As if that explained everything. “But, I never saw you . . . the front door was locked? What you did, assuming you did it, is impossible.”

His mouth grew taunt. “Nothing is impossible with faith.”

Here it comes, the catch after his little magic trick.

Cosmic cocked his head slightly to the left. “Why do you say in your heart that it was a magic trick?”

I was dumbfounded. Was he a mind reader too? “Well, I’ve seen some magicians do some pretty impossible things before. I’ve even seen one make a whole house disappear. I don’t know how you did it, but it must be a trick like those things. At any rate, I suppose I should thank you and everyone else who might be involved with this trick.”

“George,” rang a woman’s voice off in the distance.

Cosmic said, “Gotta go. My mother is calling me.”

“I thought you didn’t have a mother and that she called you Cosmic Cowboy?”

“She’s my adopted mother.” Then he ran down the road and out of sight.

I shook my head. Pretty impressive introduction to this small community. Still, something about Cosmic, or George, caused me to wonder how much of what he did and said was real and how much was all a deception.

I stepped into my house. I adjusted a thing or two here and there, but overall, everything was placed where I would have put it. If it was a trick, it was a very impressive one. But it had to be a trick of some kind. What he did was impossible.

So, I traveled in the direction of where he’d run.  In this small community, there were not many houses he could have ran to, especially the direction he went. An old two-story house greeted me. I knocked on the door.

A young lady answered the door.  “Hello, sir. Can I help you?”

“Yes. Is there a child who lives here who goes by the name of Cosmic Cowboy?” I felt silly using that name. I felt sillier when she said:

“Cosmic Cowboy? Where on earth did you hear such a name?”

“Eh, from the boy. Is there a little boy about eight or ten who lives here?”

She glanced at the living room where the television was going, playing some cartoons. “Yes, my son, George.”

It matched the name she’d called out. I struggled to find the words. “I, eh, I wonder if I could see him? Just to know if it was the same boy?”

She gazed at me for a moment before turning her head to the living room and calling out, “George! There’s a man who wants to see you at the door. Come here.”

“I don’t wanta,” came back from the living room.

“George Kilwasky, you come here now.”

In a short time, a boy appeared at the door. It wasn’t Cosmic.

I bowed. “I apologize for the intrusion, ma’am. That isn’t the boy who I’d seen before.”

She nodded and promptly closed the door. I stepped down the porch, only to be greeted by Cosmic.

“Hi, Conan.” He sat down in the porch swing.

“So, do you live here?” I asked.

“If by live, you mean do I dwell here, the answer is yes.”

“So George is your brother then? Pardon me, I mean your adopted brother?”

“In a manner of speaking, you could say that. An alter ego really.”

I rubbed my head. “So you’re suggesting that George is really you?”

“No, not suggesting it. Telling you that it was me.”

“But how? You look nothing like him?”

“It’s this way, see. My mom doesn’t know anything about my Cosmic Cowboy life. She only knows she adopted me in the 80s.  When she named me George. That’s when I named myself Cosmic Cowboy, after a song I heard over a radio at the time. A song by Barry McGuire.”

“How did it give you these abilities, though?”

“Oh, I’ve always had these abilities.”

“What do you mean, always? How old are you really?”

“You really want to know? If so, take my hand.” He held out his palm, face up.

Could I trust him? What would happen? I stared into his eyes and gained a confidence I didn’t know I had. I firmly planted my hand in his.

The world around me started swirling, and I almost pulled my hand back out of his. Yet, I held on and he held onto me. Next thing I knew, we were in space. Was he an alien of some kind? His face took on a flashing bright smile that hurt my eyes.

“Why did you come to Cedar Island, Conan?” I heard him say in my head.

He could see through me, I could not lie to him or myself. “I was running away.”

“Away from what?”

“My family.”

“Why, Conan?”

“I was scared.”

“Scared of what?”

“Scared of failure, I suppose.”

“No, that’s not what you fear.” He gazed upon my face and it no longer hurt to stare into his eyes. “You fear not meeting the expectations being placed upon you.”

He’d nailed it. I hadn’t even realized it. Yet, he was right. The expectations of my father, my mother, my wife, all because of a newborn baby that had come into my world and scared the hell into me—literally.

“That’s right, Conan. When you run from that which you fear, you only give it strength. When you face it, it loses its power over you.”

That’s when I felt how ancient he was. He was like an alien to the human race.

The world returned with a swirl and he let go of my hand. “You know what you need to do, right?”

I nodded. “Yes. I need to go back. Face my fears. As overwhelming as they might feel right now.”

He smiled and nodded. “I believe you’ll discover they aren’t as overwhelming as you might think and you’ve created some of them yourself in behalf of others.”

I nodded and returned to my “house” to load everything back in the truck. When I opened the door, the house was empty. I raced to the truck and flung the door open. All my stuff was now in the truck. Packed and ready to go. I shook my head. Did he just move everything back, or had the house stocked with my stuff been an illusion?

I grabbed my phone and looked up the lyrics to “Cosmic Cowboy by Barry McGuire” on the Net. Yep, George was indeed the Cosmic Cowboy. He’d been with my all my life. Time for me to leap. I hopped back in the truck and headed to my true home—my family.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

A Commentary on Commentaries

Yep, I found another gem while going through some stuff. This one from September 20, 1979! I would have been 19 years old when I wrote this. That would be shortly during my first semester at college. Based on the markings, it appears it showed up in the school newspaper. Could easily be said to be the first thing I ever officially "published." It's a silly piece, but I think I'll go there anyway.

---------------

Ricky Copple
September 20, 1979
A Commentary on Commentaries


I consented to create some conclusions and comments about commentaries. Many commentaries can be creative, catchy, or constructive. However, can the "common person" collect the conclusions that could create a concise consensus? Can commentaries continue to claim that creative and constructive criticisms and conclusions are being conducted? In the coming paragraphs, I will concentrate upon these concrete questions.

First, commentaries can be catchy. Many a creative commentary has been conducted as a catchy collection of ideas. The common commentary can draw your consciousness to keep its contents contained in your cranium. One catchy use has common words or letters through the contents, while in others it can create a commotion in the consciousness. Commentaries can also concentrate the consciousness of contemporaries to a contagious problem which can cause it to be catchy. The creative commentary can be contagiously catchy.

Commentaries can also be constructive. A concise constructive commentary can construct the credibility of composers, conservatives, candidates, conductors, kids, con artists, and other contemporaries. A colossal credibility can be created by a creative commentator. Other constructive commentaries can collect the conclusions and comments of experts on a contagious problem. A credible commentary can be very constructive in its outcome.

Lastly, commentaries can be creative. Can you create a commentary? A creative commentary is created by a creative commentator. If you can create a creative commentary, it concludes that commentaries can be creative and that you can be creative. Klutzy commentaries are to be condemned. Only colossal commentaries can be creative. Commentaries can also create more freedom for the creator to create. The common column consist of conclusions of collective data while a commentary can cross the creeks and climb the crevices of the consciousness. Commentaries are considerably creative if colossal.

Can commentaries be catchy, constructive, and creative? Close, concise criticisms, and comments in one's own consciousness can create the conclusions to these common questions. You can now conceive my conclusions and comments on commentaries. What can you conclude?

Saturday, July 28, 2018

It Was the Night Before Christmas and Everyone Was Stirring!

This is a play I wrote a long, long time ago. I'm not sure of the exact date, but I suspect it was around 1990 or 91.

Yep, in preparing for our move, I've been digging through lots and lots of old papers and such. Every once in a while, I come across little gems like this one. I apparently started several different short stories and such. Most of the not all that great, though a couple of them have good premises. But most remain unfinished. But occasionally I run across something like this one that I did finish and is good!

Now when I say "good," I don't necessarily mean according to what I can do today. This was long before I started writing professionally. So I'm going to retype this, flaws and all, though I'll correct any typos and grammar errors I find as I go.

But one thing this confirms for me is that all my life I've been a writer. I know of stuff I wrote as a teen in high school and college. But I didn't realize just how much I'd written in the other times. Most of it I had forgotten about.

One note on this play. It was originally written to be presented in a church setting. If anyone reads this, and wants to use it for that purpose, be my guest. But it will, as a result, have a more overt gospel presentation in it.

So with that, I present to you, my Christmas play, "It Was the Night Before Christmas, and Everyone was Stirring!"

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Narrator: This is a story about a family on Christmas Eve. A time of joy, relaxation, and fun. Or is it? Let's look in on this family and see.

Be prepared to sing with us when the hymns numbers are announced. And now, I introduce to you, "It Was the Night Before Christmas, and Everyone Was Stirring!"

Scene: Opens with Dad sitting in his recliner reading the newspaper. Other living room decor can be used to give the appearance of a living room in a typical house.  After a few seconds, two of his children, between the ages of 7 and 10 come running in and stop in front of him.

Son 1: Daddy, could you tell us the Christmas story? Pleasssssse!

Dad: Well, I'm a little busy right now.

Son 2: Pleeeeeease, Daddy! We want to hear it!

Dad: Why don't you ask your mom to read it to you?

Son 1: She told us to ask you.

Dad: (with exasperation), Oh, okay. (Yells to his wife), Honey, where is the Christmas Story book?

Mom: (pokes her head out the kitchen doorway) I lent it to our pastor, I didn't think we would need it. (Ducks back into doorway)

Dad: Well, maybe I can tell it from memory. (Kids get excited.) Once upon a time, there was a big fat man who lived at the North Pole--

Son 2: No, no, Daddy. Not the Santa Claus story. The real story, about Jesus.

Dad: Oh, well, I guess I will need a Bible for that. (Yells to his wife.) Honey, where is the family Bible?

Mom: (pokes her head out the doorway.) Probably among all of your other books. Now quit bothering me. I'm trying to fix dinner. (Ducks back into the kitchen.)

Dad: (He walks over behind stage and begins to pull several books out from behind a "wall". Finally he comes to a big Bible.) Ah ha! I found it! (He blows the dust off of it as he walks back to his recliner.) Let's see, (he opens the Bible up) I think the story is in 1 Kings.

Son 1: No dad, it's in Luke. Chapter 2.

Dad: (Somewhat sarcastically) I knew that. I wanted to see if you both knew that or not. (Opens the Bible to the table of contents.) Looks like that would be page 1057. Wow, a long book. (He flips some more pages until he reaches the page number.) In those days, Caesar Augustus issued a decree--

(At this time, their teenage son runs across stage and into the kitchen. Dad gets distracted and stops reading. In a few seconds, the teen runs back across stage, headed to the "front door.")

Dad: Whoa, son. Where are you going?

Teen: I'm going to the Church Christmas party. Mom said I could. (He points toward the kitchen.)

Dad: Well, you haven't asked me.

Teen: Well, can I?

Dad: No! Sit down, I'm reading the Christmas story.

Teen: But I've heard that story a thousand times. And besides, they will probably tell it at the party tonight anyway.

Dad: It doesn't matter, I only do this once a year, and now is it. Besides, this is a family event; so sit!

Teen: (dejected and frustrated) Oh, okay. (He walks over to the "front door" and opens it. He yells to his friends in the car.) Sorry, I can't go tonight. Bye. (He waves his hand. Then he comes over and sits with his head in his hands appearing sad.)

Dad: All right. (Looks back to the Bible and says in a monotone voice) In those days . . .

(After a few sentences a knock on the door sounds out.)

Dad: Now who could that be? (He walks over to the door and opens it. Several teens enter the room with their youth pastor.)

Y.M.: Hi Mr. --use a name of someone from the congregation--, we thought that since --teens name--  could not go to the party, we would bring the party to him. (He gives the signal for everyone to begin singing. The congregation joins him at this point singing, "Deck the Halls.")

Dad: (After the song is over, says) You might as well take over. I'm sure not getting anything going.

(Youth Minister now leads the congregation in singing a couple of Christmas Hymns)

Church Teen 1: Once upon a time, there was a baby born in a manger in Bethlehem. However, this was no ordinary baby because his father was not Joseph who Mary was betrothed to, but God Himself. This baby was named Jesus and He was the Gift of God to the world. Jesus was born to die upon a cross so that we all might walk in newness of life as He walked. For this reason, we give gifts to one another. Jesus gave us life. What gift shall we give Him?

Church teen 2: Let's pray. Our loving Father, how wonderful a gift was given to us on that first Christmas morning. You, yourself, healed their sicknesses, loved the unlovable, fed the hungry, taught the wandering sheep, and forgave the repentant sinner. How wonderful a gift was given, our very own souls. Our very own life. Let us therefore rejoice at your birth, and let us give of ourselves to You. For the only gift that we can bring of any value to You is our complete dedication: our lives for Your service. Thank you for this season, this family, and your gift to us, Jesus Christ. Now, let's go and not only give gifts to each other, but you also. In Jesus' name, Amen.

(The Youth Minster and teens start to shake hands with each other and to leave.)

Mom: (Pokes her head into the room and says:) Come and Eat! (Then quickly ducks back in.)

Teen Group in unison: Eat! (Everyone runs into the kitchen with the family until the stage is empty.)

Mom: (In a couple of seconds stomps out of the kitchen and onto the stage looking angry. Stops center stage and faces audience.) How many times have I told my husband not to invite company over with discussing it with me first! (Begins to walk toward the "front door" On her way off stage, she says:) I'm going out to eat!

The End