Jack’s Kitchen

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Jack glances at the screen and paces a full circle, “Really? I’ve gotta get the hell out of here.” He turns off the news as he downs the rest of his whiskey and heads out the back porch, leaving the lights on as he grabs his coat.

Jonny’s World

Hammer was an armored beetle in the first fleet of the special guard who wore dark blue helmets. He had a special gift that allowed him to turn any bad situation into a good one. He had a friend named Jasper that was sent away to work in the second fleet of the gathers that made sure the kingdom had a proper food supply. Much of this work was precarious and daily missions were made to the great fields where the treaty that ended the bird wars was negotiated. Jasper was among the elite squad that scouted in the early mornings to make sure the fields were safe. Jasper was especially good at hopping great distances, which was quite handy. If the fields were safe, Jasper would rub his legs to produce a loud wave of music that reverberated throughout the kingdom. The gathers waited each morning as they washed themselves near the river for the Scouts Song, then they would go to the fields.

One day Hammer was conducting his routine checks of the outer parameter to their kingdom, The Wooded Burrow. This was a magical place that needed to be protected. Hammer marched quietly along a trail that skirted the edge of the great forest. He liked this shift because he rarely ran into trouble and it gave him time to think. The worst he ran into was a swarm of angry dust mites that had been misplaced and lost their way back to the pale lands where they fed on the giants. Hammer realized that they were becoming increasingly upset as their hunger for flesh continued to be deprived. Hammer began waving his warning sign at the swarm. Suddenly, the mighty dust mites began dive-bombing Hammer and tried to eat him. But Hammer’s armor was mightier and the dust mites just bounced off of him. After a short time, the dust mite king, Lord Klum ordered his legion to hold back. As the swarm swarmed into a ball, Hammer noticed the Lord advance alone to speak to him.

“You there?!” came a faint voice attempting in its best way to sound commanding. Even though the dust mites are invisible to the humans they feed on, Hammer could see Lord Klum approach and hear his squeaky voice as is common with dust mites on the fact that their voices are parched with dust and are squeaky, small sounding.

“Yes?” replied Hammer.

“Why can’t we eat you?”

“Because I am an armored horned beetle of the special guard commissioned to protect the kingdom of the Wooded Burrow.” Replied Hammer

“Well we dust mites are hungry and if we don’t find flesh, we will die.”

Hammer considered the predicament for a moment. Although he could ward them off, others from the kingdom would not be able to withstand a swarm of dust mites. “What is your name and title?”

Lord Klum realized that Hammer had no idea who he was. “I am Lord Klum – king of the mighty dust mites!”

“Well, you are close to trespassing on the lands of the kingdom of The Wooded Burrow. Lord Hardbark rules by the elements.” Hammer replied.

“That may be, however, we have somehow strayed far from our homeland and must eat.” Lord Klum eagerly advanced.

“Hold up there! You will not find what you seek here in this kingdom. But I might be able to help.” Hammer was determined to resolve this matter and make sure no harm came to his kingdom. It was his duty.

“Oh? And what could you possibly do for us other than remove your armor?” Lord Klum sneered.

“I can help you return to your home so your mites may eat. But I need you to wait here while I fetch supplies and I will return to guide you.”

“Fine, I will give you one half of the shadow of this blade but if you are not returned by that time then we will have no choice.” Lord Klum replied pointing to a slightly bent grass blade that was showing the first signs of its shadow begin to stretch into the dirt.

“Ok. I will get right back!” Hammer reassured Lord Klum as he slowly turned his large round black torso around. Naturally this took Hammer some time and on a normal outing served him well as he would carefully scan his parameters. It was a risky business. Even though Lord Hardbark had negotiated a treaty from the Bird Wars that saved thousands that lived in Wooded Burrow, there were always those rogue robins that liked to try and be sneaky with an occasional dive bomb. Hammer always had the feeling that the treaty was fragile but the birds stood fast and honor the treaty so all was quiet for now.

On his way back, Hammer ran into Jasper who was hopping high above the meadow that rose above and away from Bone Creek that ran through the kingdom. Grass pollen trailed behind his long legs whenever he burst through the tops, landing and bounding gingerly from their curved tops. Now and then, a blade would give him a little boost that sent him even higher. The grass blades were allies and had provided lots of hiding places during the war. Some of the blades found along Bone Creek served as weaponry to the special guard; it was a good relationship held in tact due to the cooperation of the colonies not to feed on their fleshy skin.

“Jasper, come quickly!” He could see Jasper’s antennae twitch and his large eyeball scan in his direction as he leapt through the air. Suddenly, Jasper appeared right behind Hammer.

“Hello Hammer!” Jasper glanced around always looking in several directions at once with his crazy eyes.

“Agh!” Hammer was startled with Jasper’s sneaky tricks but glad to see his old friend. “Jasper you should not go in that direction. There is a swarm of dust mites that have lost their way and they are hungry. Fortunately, my armor was able to ward them off, but they will swarm into the kingdom if I do not help them return to where they came from.”

Jasper had not heard this urgent tone in his friend’s voice in a very long time.

“Jasper, we must awaken the Stones. Tell Lord Hardbark there is a swarm of dust mites waiting at the entrance to the kingdom and they could potentially eat everything in their path. I am going for the Stick of Truth to carry with me for protection. But if I fail, then we will need to use the stones to protect the kingdom.” The stick was not ordinary though it was rough and natural looking. It was a pointer that could guide any who held it so long as their heart was pure because the stick could only lead in the direction of good. Once, the stick had been captured by pigeon pirates who tried to use the stick for a coup against the burrow but then they tried to do anything, the stick burned them. Finally, they returned the stick saying it was useless and had a dark spirit about it.

“Hammer! Should I call back the harvesters? They will be setting off for the fields any minute now.”

“Yes, Jasper, that is a great idea. Please make sure the other scouts know not to send the Scouts Song. I will try and hurry and let others know that I meet on my way back.”

“What about the council.” Jasper said.

“I don’t have time for them. Lord Hardbark will deal with them.” Hammer stammered as he waddled his armor up a slight incline and into the cover of foliage.

“I will do as you request just as soon as I alert the other scouts.” Jasper bounded off into the air and over the tops of the wall of wispy grass blades.

The Stones were smooth like moon cheese without any flaws and each represented one of the four elements – Water, Earth, Fire, Wind… Lord Hardbark vowed to forever protect the stones within the kingdom of the Wooded Burrow. When the stones were properly aligned, they could harness the combined strength of earth and bring great power to the wielder. In the wrong hands, these had the potential of controlling all life or destroying it. It is said that these were crafted deep in the mountains by an ancient man race. Sadly, greed brought down and demolished every last one. One of the Makers had managed to cast a shrinking spell and gave them to Lord Hardbark of the Ants and sent him away just as the last room under the mountain came under attack and fell to the evil that had come to steal the stones. That was the last time they were brought forth for any kind of use.

Words in the Middle

I write not because I think I am good or because I have some profound insight that needs to be shared; I write because I don’t know what else to do. I want to be a great writer but have resigned to mediocrity and I am ok with that even if it doesn’t pay the bills. Of course, it is important being able to sustain oneself but this nagging need has gripped me again with its tentacles. I had managed to stay on the corporate wagon for the past seven years. Before that, I was in so deep, passion spilling over into all sorts of publishing projects and working with artists and writers, poets and painters from all around the Pacific Northwest. But then I dropped out – vanished in an implosion of creative impetus.  I vowed I would not return to it until I was settled financially and put up on a retired front porch someplace, aged with years of weather and stories that had accumulated there and needed a good writing. Instead, I find myself writing about writing while writing. What kind of trickery is this? I have not the patience for non-fiction – rehashing junk, and all my fictitious characters are troubled downtrodden protagonists that push like martyrs to the end. They are tortured but always are not without hope and take things as they come. Some rationalize their way into complacency, though, while others are cursed souls that have romanticized themselves right into purgatory. Where is the humor anymore? That could be it right there – just remembering there should be. My writing – this spirit inside is a dichotomy to the light and reflects something else. I can’t say it is accurate and perhaps my view is in danger – but it doesn’t matter because I already don’t like it other than to appease it with words, any words… with crappy words. I will deprive it of its ideal so that I can get to it – get back to someplace less appealing where I might get in real good and make lots of money to live another day and make sure my kids are solid with their own opportunities. I will hit that clock and force myself to love it.

Just then, a faint damp musk brushes the air, lush with old Douglas meal worms and fern. I am in the desert full of juniper – the Badlands. How can the Magic Skagit drift all the way down and over those Cascade Mountains? Ironically, it brought a blanket of wet snow this morning to Bend. The past couple of days saw rain and a weather inversion that settled in with air stagnation – a perfect setting for sweats and football from the couch. Why do old memories haunt me with it’s beauty? What can be done with all this gibberish? This reminds me of Jeff Larsen who is a burn out, drunk on detective work. He moved with his wife to the area around Sisters, OR and they made a garden in the sage brush just beneath the Three Sisters. After a life solving cases up in the Seattle gray, he couldn’t take it anymore. The problem was there were people who would not let him retire and had unresolved issues with him. That is a very random flashback to an old story written long ago. Nevertheless, the issue of writing is buried deep and now time has brought it back for me to deal with like leftover turkey soup taking up space in an already cramped freezer.

Funny thing is, I really can’t stand to read my own shit. It does make me physically nauseous – gives me a headache.  I just don’t know what else to do. I could practice to make it somewhat more appealing but then it would have had its way with me.

If I wasn’t so damn stubborn, I’d be in the city somewhere doing my high paying clock job.  But once again I find myself here just when I wasn’t looking. The only place for it was in my fantasy and I did get a rush when I thought about it – but it wasn’t real – at least I was always skeptical of the timing of such things as writing. What would be the point? I mean really – who says they are a writer? But if not – then what are you doing? What do you do with your time? Go get a job. Right, I could do that and pack my house, figure out my kids who are in college now and living with me full time and then move to the city. I could make that drive over the pass and into the populace to fight the tail lights each day for a scrap of bread from a company that has lost its perspective and loyalty to the value of the employee or is not honorable by its customers and is just a nameless machine churning widgets to fund someone else’s escape plan. It’s not so far-fetched. That’s what we are supposed to do, right? Aren’t we just words at the end of the day, anyway?

A Narrative Comparison

To write in first person is to take into account the authors view point or POV using “I” or “me” statements. Third person limited knows the feelings of a single character whereas other characters are limited as external casts without knowledge of them personally other than their support to the story. On the other hand, Third Person Omniscient knows the feelings of all the characters in the story.

The desire is to transition from a first person narrative into a third person omniscient to create an epic story.

Jack, a post-apocalyptic super hero, is writing about his experience and what led up to the ultimate conspiracy to save mankind. At some point, the POV transitions to capture other characters from a third person omniscient. Certainly, the story can be one dimension or detached as told strictly from a first person narrative. To avoid being detached, it is necessary to understand that the pace and flow in the relational first and third person characters are important for the reader to experience the story. Story experience is dependent on and coexistent to pace and flow and the narrative is an intimate guide to this process.  Therefore, how should the narrative transition to provide the best pace and flow for the reader’s experience?

This can be done using timelines to manage breaks from one POV to the next. The Preface should reflect from a first person narrative and then transition into third person with the beginning chapter. It is important to wrap up the preface so that it flows into the first chapter with designated timelines – even if hundreds of years apart. Deciding on an entry point to the story – both in the preface as well as the beginning chapter is important. Similarly, the urge to expound too deeply on the story details must be resisted from the first person POV where the preface should only be used to establish a backdrop or back story to create interest and story context for the reader.

For example:

Preface: I was not always considered a derelict. Though, I admit, most days were meant for nothing but shelter when the sun showed no mercy. It was the blistering hot air that pressed against the temples, causing thoughts to sizzle in a baked out brain. How did we come to this place? I always figured things would work out. I remember when it all started and the pop squads began making their rounds.

Chapter One: Jack fell into the wrong company that night. The sky was darkening as he took to the streets having been thrown out of his home -again. At least his car was running this week. He would find a spot to park for the night and try to mend things with his wife in the morning. At least, he would go back to get some things while she was at work. Just as he was warming up the car, he noticed some kids walking down the street. They were hooded and appeared ominous in the way they shuffled along the curb in the waning light. It was one of those late afternoons when it suddenly feels like time somehow skipped several hours to land at ten o’clock at night. He noticed the boys stop briefly looking at something one of the boys pulled from a pocket. For just a second, one of the boys looked right at him before they started off again. Jack did not trust people very well and his autistic nature made him frozen as his brain spun in circles about what those boys were doing in the neighborhood. Was his family going to be safe? Just as they were about to round the corner, Jack was able to get the car into reverse and backed out of the driveway.

James was a high school dropout whose parents did not care what he did so long as he stayed out of their way. At just sixteen, he had hooked up with some other kids who lived on the streets and started running with them. They were nothing serious, but that night, Albert a tall thick headed boy who had already been in and out of foster homes and juvenile convinced the others that they would burglarize a house and sell the goods for some good drugs.

“I am not sure this is a good idea.” James said as Albert pulled a key to the backdoor of Hamilton’s who were close friends of his foster parents who were to look after things while the Hamilton’s were traveling.

“Don’t be such a switch! This will be easy – we don’t even have to break in since I have a key.” Albert intimidated the others, in part because of his size but also because of his brash arrogant behavior.

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In the above example, we have moved from the first person narrative with a preface and into a transition that lends to the development of a story told in third person omniscient.

Of course, these exchanges should be linked throughout the story to develop the plot and not get too distracted where the reader becomes confused. At the same, credit should be given to the reader to have the capacity to keep up.

I think it is just fine to mix the narrative so long as it is done properly and the safest way for this to transpire is through compartmentalizing the story with time blocks and chapters to move between the characters. For good form and keeping track of the plot line, a good approach is to outline the protagonist and antagonist. For example, there could be three characters that serve as protagonists, while there are elemental issues that become antagonist along with one or two main persons that are also antagonist. However, that puzzle fits, the important thing is listing and identifying the characters that will be most affected in the story and for whom the story is about since they are the main characters.

In this instance, it is ok for the preface to be told from one point of view in order to set the stage. In some cases, an epilog can be another place where the first person narrative comes back to close out the book and set things up for the next story where there are more than on like what could be found working in trilogies or book chronicles.

I am not completely certain how this will play out – but the methods are typical. The challenge is deciding and crafting it so that things have the proper pace and flow without losing coherency.