The Art of the Storyteller video series

We are soon to be returning with our popular Art of the Storyteller video series. For the time being, we are sharing our most popular episode to whet your appetite;

Art of the Storyteller – Episode 6 

Love. Passion. Excitement. Drama. Engagement.

These are things which can turn your writing from a collection of words into a Story! Make it something you loved writing and are proud of to something which people will love reading and want more of. Of course we are writing for ourselves and writing a style we love but we do want it to sell right? We want to see our vision on the Silver Screen or the TV at least. We don’t write it to leave in a drawer somewhere to desintegrate do we?

No, Alan we do not, we would love ot achieve success with it and have lots of people read and love it like we do! You have many ways to create these but here are a couple;

Fight or pursuit scenes. How can you use style, skill and language to create tension, draw them in and make them want to know how your scene ends. How can you create that ‘edge of the seat’ feeling?

Tension Building Scenes; when the reader has a good idea what is going to happen but you ‘lead them down the garden path’ in a way where they are no longer sure or don’t know HOW it is going to happen.

Death Scenes; If you have not built up a character as interesting and complete, will they care if that character dies? Can you build your scene so that, at least, a tear is shed and a heart flutters? Can you, through your passion and love cause them to feel it?

Conflict Scenes; When two or more protagonists hold vastly or only slight variations of viewpoint and that difference is either a point of conflict or pivotal part of story. Here, dialogue will likely be your friend, internal dialogue also, perhaps.

This is the hardest part that, I believe, no-one can teach because you have to feel it, you have to present it and give them a reason to engage, to emote and to be pulled into the narrative. Today I will be doing things a little differently than I have, with a reading from a key scene in my ultra-secret collaborative project.

A scene entitled “The Fall of Atlantis.” This is an example of a tension and a sort of death scene. It involves sympathy, perhaps, for someone who should really deserve none. It involves a twist of perception and an idea turned on it’s head. The idea of a sympathetic villain and why he chose to act as he did; how he got so angry and twisted up and who he had around as his only allies left to influence him. He’s effectivelty the First Villain too… How can you do this in your writing? More news and reveals on this exciting project to come but look into the style and my perhaps slightly rusty delivery and acting skills. (Alan’s acting skills could perhaps use some work but he’s trying! He has no plans to become an actual actor so don’t worry..he shall not inflict singing on you next so relax) coming soon.

Get ready for some huge changes to the website and also to existing books with the dawn of this new year. I have some very exciting and unexpected big changes coming.   The text I was reading can be found HERE
for those of your who would like to follow along. I made a couple of corrects and changes as I went along; hence my occasional long pauses.

This is a DRAFT not a final one either so there are errors in it. That’s why my project remains TOP SECRET because I am far from having it in presentable form. This is a hint and only here for illustrative purposes. No critique of spelling or word choices please (or observations of me diverging from the text, it is MY text so I can!) as this is a firmly WIP. Enjoy anyway if you like. The essence is true and measurable emotion and we will talk about that in the attached video. How can your words make others feel and how can you make your story huge. By appealing to people’s feelings. The Chronicles of Enoch : Darkness Within is coming soon.

Please be sure to subscribe to our channel for future episodes.

#Holiday #PassionForTheArt #AlanJFisher #Language #Create #Creative #thoughts #ArtoftheStoryteller #Storytelling #WritingTips #Writers #WritingMentor #creativewriting #Dramatic #Conflict #TheRaven #Passion

Upsetting the Established Order

“My words will either attract the strong of mind or offend the weak one”
– Unknown
“What is freedom of expression? Without freedom to offend, it ceases to exist.”
– Salman Rushdie
From the very first draft of the very first chapter, we realised that The Chronicles of Enoch were going to offend some people, perhaps a lot of people. We know that the topics we are going to be handling are some sensitive ones.
We ar, however, of the long-held opinion that it is, effectively, the job of the artist to challenge how people think about and perceive what is around them. It is our job not only to entertain but to challenge ideas and lead our readers (in my case) to ask questions; not only about the topics we dramatise, but our words themselves. A true writer wants debate and opposition because that means people are thinking and they are talking.
“As a writer, you know you are doing your job well when they try to stop you from doing it.”
– Anon
If we are faced with controversy, that means we are challenging what needs to be challenged but, of course, as with everything else, there are lines that should not be crossed and consequences for crossing them.
Lines in The Sand
We know that we are supposed to defend freedom of expression and challenge societal norms. We know that controversy is part of our reason of being in many cases. We remember those who stood up when no-one else would and wrote what nobody else seemed to dare to.
We do indeed have the right to write what we want to, it is enshrined in the values of both Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Expression.
I take my stick and point at the sand.
Just because you can does not mean that you should.
I draw the line and wait for the inevitable questions.
  1. Graphic murder and graphic rape. I do not think we should try to force these into the mainstream. I don’t mind offending people so I will just say it; if you enjoy reading that, you might consider asking yourself why. Reading is meant to be a pleasure but taking pleasure from such things is…well…now, horror and gore have their place but pure gratuitousness for its own sake does, in my opinion, not
  2. Graphic descriptions of the abuse of children. Though a horrifying trend and something which needs to be addressed and dealt with, we don’t need to know about it, we don’t need to read about it
Now, there are more, probably, but for me, those are the only reasons I would have for throwing a book in the bin and never returning to it. There is a worrying trend these days to represent these things, especially among new writers looking to make waves and use controversy and shock value to get immediate attention for their work but I ask them, is that the reputation you want to have as an artist?
Of course, my list of lines I do not cross will be different to other people’s, that is normal and part of the process of learning.
Some say religion cannot be touched. Others say that gender identity or race must be addressed and the book’s characters inclusive. Fair enough. I wouldn’t tolerate racism or homohobia/sexism personally so no characters I write who practise that will come to a good end.
The Controversy List
There will be several things which will offend the tender sensibility in Darkness Within alone. Let me tell you about them;
  1. The Roman Catholic Church, American Mega Church Evangelism, and most of the ‘Christian Cults’ of the USA were set up and are directly managed by Lucifer and his cohorts. The idea of this was to muddy the message and lead humans away from The Creator in order to prove his point. The demon Sammael is resident in Rome and is the Pope’s closest adviser. Those who follow almost all branches of modern Christianity are, to a greater or lesser degree depending, following the Devil, which is ironic.
  2. The angels are not pure and unblemished beings. Towards humans they are distant and slightly disdainful. The long lists of moral laws we have tacked on to the whole thing interest neither them nor their Father even vaguely. The clothes we wear, the buidling we go to on which day and what we call it is irrelevent to them, very much beneath their notice.
  3. That the US military, as well as the militaries of most developed nations are under Lucifer’s control, Abaddon uses them as a money making machine and sometimes as simple entertainment.
  4. All of our conspiracy theories, fancy fantasies of New World Orders, aliens, faked moon landings, dodgy assassinations, etc are all the invention of the being who came up with internet porn.
  5. A certain US politician in high office , who is replaced by a neutrotic demon bears quite a resemblence to a real politician and may or may not make satirical milage at his expense.
  6. The modern Bible is essentially an invention designed to keep people both confused and oppressed. Lucifer is responsible for most of it, togther with his fellow high-ranking demons. They added bits, removed parts, brutally edited others. They did anything they could to remove any clear message or possibility for confusion.
That is just the beginning, though. To me, everything is fair game as long as it does not cross my line in the sand or be designed to specifically hurt people.
The Politically Correct Trap
Now, before we start, there is absolutely nothing wrong in treating people of any minority or anyone who does not conform to what society calls ‘the norm’ the same way as everybody else. I encourage and applaud those who face struggle every day.
Here we agree, right?
Being aware of offending and conscious adaptation of your behaviour to avoid that are great but, as with everything, it must be a choice. Let’s be honest, there are ignorant and stupid people in the world, quite a few of them, who are content to blame others for their woes and hold very outdated opinions, not at all up to speed with society as a whole.
That is their inalienable right. You cannot force their worldview to converge with yours. There are going to be people who have highly inaccurate opinions about Black people, Asian people, LGBTQIA+ people in all their beautiful variety, Jews, Liberals, Republicans, Southerners, people from any country that is not theirs or hold any opinion which differs to their own….
With people existing in their infinite and all-splendoured variety, ignorant, hateful, and stupid also exists, it is unavoidable. They were either born that way or some negative life experiences may have made them that way. You can’t look at them and know.
You can protest, you can campaign, you can be involved in activism and work to change opinions on the matter but you cannot force people to agree with you or be unable to voice opinions they feel are justified.
That is what led to Brexit, that is what led to Donald Trump (not Krampus)!!
Look, I’m in my mid 40’s and I remember when it was fine to make racist jokes on TV and have white actors dressed up as black or Indian people in mockery and it was ok. Gay people were exaggerated and exposed to hilarity. Famous LGTBQIA+ people took the secret of their sexuality and identity to their grave, never being able to come out in public.
All that has changed for the better. We’re not there yet but we’re improving.
Education, you see, that’s how it works. People believe this, so you teach them that and the smart ones learn. The stupid or wilfully ignorant ones will not.
It’s just like school, college, university, etc. Everyone (in theory) attends the same classes, lectures and tutorials, everyone has access to the same books, everyone receives equal exposure to the same material but not everyone passes the final exam and those that pass do not all receive the same grades.
You cannot force everyone to pass. No law, no rule, and no amount of careful campaigning or protesting will encourage some people to either increase their grades or pass. They just don’t have it in them
You could even say that they can’t help who they are…
Now, stop before misquoting me because I am not defending bigots of any kind; judging anyone because of aspects, characteristics or behaviours they cannot help is always wrong.
Do you hate your child for misbehaving or placing themselves in danger? No, you educate them and present them with consequences. They tend not to do it again after that.
How Lucifer Drove in the Wedge
Now you see how he did it do you not? Identify differences and work on ignorance across the board. Make people scared of the different, feed the tribalism. He programmed these fears and hatreds deep into his religions and doctrines. The Dark Ages were one of his greatest victories because he bred a hatred of education and love of ignorance deep into the bones of our civilisation.
Before then, wisdom, even the folkesy kind those ‘witches’ had a lot of, were respected and looked up to. Being able to learn and grow was seem as a positive thing. Instead the devil replaced such beliefs that all those things came from him when the opposite was actually true.
Anything which could keep humans content and united was forbidden; anything that kept them divided and secretly guilty was encouraged. All the things we had in common were turned into sins and silly rules that were impossible to follow were introduced. Nobody could abide by all of them but that did not stop those who slavishly followed the obvious ones from looking down theirs noses at and feeling superior to those judged not to be doing so.
It all boils down to fear ultimately…
It was actually rather brilliant when you think about it. Afterall, feeling proud and superior for what someone else has done is an essential part of human nature.
Take a look at sports as an example; your team wins and you celebrate and mock supporters of the other team although you contributed nothing at all to the endeavour. It’s the same with religion, your team is deemed to be the correct one so it’s OK to do whatever you like to supporters of the other team when all you do is show up once a week.
The same thing can apply to socio-ethnic groups; yours is determined to be the dominant one but what do you do to contribute? You just show up and wear the t-shirt. as it were.
Controversy is impossible in the artist’s world; we tend to think quite differently to other people and look an explanation of why things are as they are. We tend to think not in straight lines on curves or, at times, more complicated forms. Often we are misfits and therefore have sympathy and understanding of those that society applies the same label to; those that refuse to simply sit down and accept the shoddy treatment they are receiving as “their lot in life”.
We see the world as everyone else sees it and decide that is not enough, so we use words, sounds, paints, and other materials to show it in a way be like better and dearly wish that others see it too as they share our hard work.
It is no coincidence that artists tend to be the first people to dictator rounds up during his revolution or one of many purges. We court controversy, are rebellious, and like to challenge the established way of doing things. We do not fit in with our heads down and question nothing; we question everything.
Nobody likes it when someone starts pointing out the holes…
The Chronicles of Enoch, over the course of our research, managed to find an awful lot of them and we intend to pick at each and every one.

Reconstruction of A Shattered History

“History shattered. It was the only thing that could give. Very strange event. There were cracks left all over the place. The… oh, I can’t remember the words… the fastenings that tell bits of the past which bits of the present they belong to, they were flapping all over the place. Some got lost for ever…”

Terry Pratchett, Thief of Time.

This was, perhaps, the area of research which simultaneously offered the greatest challenges and most intriguing opportunities.

The deeper we dug, the further back we looked, the more we realised that a lot of what is considered “established historical fact” is so much guesswork, gossip, and what we might call ‘fake news’ in this age.

We all know the saying that “history is written by the victors” and we know this is true. The apocalypse of the Mayans, the holocaust of the Native Americans, the genocide of Columbus; history tried to hide those stories from us but failed in the end. Sooner or later, it seems, the Truth will turn up, mopping its brow and muttering something about the traffic.


A Hole on History

There is a great deal of History we know nothing about, that we make educated guesses, make educated stab in the dark (first establishing with what to attempt said stabbing and the correct intensity of darkness to attempt to at least wound), hold fingers of investigation to the wind, and so forth.

Up until quite recently, your average person want to school and was taught what we could call the consensus version which, obviously, they accepted without question. Then most people get on with their adult lives after school and leave history well alone. Those who maintain an interest or take history as a profession tend to not attract too wide an audience.

Those ‘In the business’ know which way the trench is dug (or better said, the budget granted) so keep their mouths shut about ‘the secret’, wouldn’t you?

The simple fact is that a lot of the historical record was commited to perishable materials because that’s all they had available at the time. Of the vast cache of documents recovered from Qumran in 1947, it is said that at least one third were used as fuel before someone told the shepherd those foreigners paid a fortune for that stuff.

So much could have been lost that way, or been sequestered away in private collections, locked away in the fabled Vatican Archives or similar hidden vault of Forbidden Knowledge.

We know that many Mayan books and scrolls were burned as “heresy”, Aztec monuments defaced. Early Islamic expansion contributed to the destruction of ‘haram’ or unholy items such as stuff the priests didn’t like or that disagrees with what kept them in nice clothes and palaces.

The library of Constantinople contained a lot of what was saved or recovered from the fire that destroyed the Library of Alexandria centuries before. In 1204 AD., the Library was burned to the ground by crusaders and, we hear, nothing survived.

How much history was lost due to ignorance, war, ideology, brazen stupidity and, perhaps, a bit of intent?

Stitching it Up

The possible irony of that heading is indeed intentional, thank you for noticing…

When it comes to studying the history I needed to in order to properly research both The Chronicles of Enoch and Hegemony, a lot of information was missing. The main source of material, The Bible (various versions), translations of the Torah and midrash, the Qur’an and other works, ancient codices, the Book of Enoch itself, and numerous works of ‘uncertain canonicity’ (apophryca etc).

I noticed a lot of missing information, contradictions, plot holes, and explanations lacking.

Now, I know Sir Terry’s works are as fictional as ours are (we think) but we wonder sometimes…we’ve often heard of something called ‘parallel creativity’; inspiration coming from…ah…somewhere else and fiction accidentally reporting reality. Sir Terry mentioned something called ‘unwritten books’ and has a magical library containing books that haven’t yet been written, implying that information can, perhaps, persist and ‘leak’ as it were.

We wonder whether some of this information and history was intentionally repressed and hidden as The Chronicles of Enoch assert. Has history been filled with individuals or groups that do not want the truth reported; not just Lucifer (and through him, The Vatican and other Church organisations) but others too? In The Chronicles, we have the Unknown Men, the Illuminati, and others we’ll stay quiet about for now.

Hidden History?

Each one of these organisations has an agenda and aims as well as being very keen to hide their existence from the world at large. 

In The Chronicles, we have the example of The Hidden War of 79AD. The world’s greatest Heroes gathered in Meggido valley to face down a horde of monstrous Nephilim led by Lucifer and his Horsemen. Sable, Conan, and Gilgamesh led the charge and, though countless heroes of legend were killed in the battle, Lucifer’s forces were decisively broken; two Horsemen were defeated and the others fled.

The world, however, did not end and the forces of Heaven were conspicuously absent. Everyone, except for the dead, simply pretended that the battle never happened. Asmodeus erased even the vaguest of references regarding the battle from history. They existed, of course, there had been mortals present in the fifty-thousand strong Army of Heroes, there were witnesses, there were armaments and weapons as well as bodies left behind. A great many of those bodies did not look even close to human; there were giants, orcs and goblins, beast-men, and dragons among them and their bones decorated the Meggido valley.

The scale of the operation he mounted in the 1960’s, the disinformation, the sequestration of both information and remains, the neutralisation of those that couldn’t be ‘financially convinced’, and the practical rewriting of some history books is almost impossible to imagine but he did it.

Fragmented accounts remain in folklore, mythical accounts of Heroes, strange legends, they are even encoded in the “Approved Modern Version” of the Book of Revelation. It is odd to think that the great Battle of Armageddon there mentioned refers to an actual historical event rather than a future one or (as many today claim) a more allegorical struggle.

The account in Revelation is said to have been Asmodeus’ greatest gamble and success simultaneously.


History is written by the victor and the most powerful; money and threats have made inconvenient pieces of the historic record disappear almost as well as accidental occuraces such as fire and misapplied zealotry can.

We know there are parts missing, we see repetions, fixes, and inventions applied over some of the holes and rarely do people question them. One has to be looking in order to spot the important ommissions and fabrications. One has to pay attention to the stories and folk tales for explanations at times, the evidence that should be there at others.

Sometimes the evidence or information is glaring in its absence.

We are not talking about those shows seen on a certain channel sharing a name with the field we keep mentioning. We are not talking conspiracy this time, we’re making logical and educated forays into what is so obviously there.

Or, of course, obviously not there but has left a hole like a missing jigsaw piece will…you can imply its shape in its absence.

Maybe not all of our fictional history is as fictional as we think it is…

The Forgotten War

The year 79AD is fraught with mythological significance. There was the destruction of Pompeii, terrible Norse rumours of Ragnarok from the frozen North to stormy Lindisfarne. Several prophecies hinted at dark events on the way.

According to history, the worst thing that happened that day was that two Roman towns were buried in ash, killing hundreds in mere moments. Terrible as this event was, it was not the worst thing that happened that year, it is simply the worst thing that people remember…

Asmodeus did a very, very good job in erasing the most significant historical event since, well since anything, from anything but Viking and Celtic legend, which nobody believes anyway.
On August 25th (modern calendar) AD 79, the world ended but it also did not. It was a very close thing.

This battle, called variously ‘Lucifer’s Folly’, ‘The Harvest of Heroes’, or ‘The Neverwar’ , depending on who you listen to, two vast armies faced one another in the shadows of the Megiddo valley in Isreal/Palestine. In the foremost ranks of one army stood the greatest heroes you have every heard of; Nephilim every one.

Opposing them, the seemingly unending ‘armies of Hell’; imagine orcs, kobolds, trolls, giants, ever type of monster you could imagine and some you wish you hadn’t…

“He was most amazed by the fact that it was a lot quieter than he’d thought it would be. He didn’t really know what he’d been expecting but not this. He heard the gentle ruffle of banners being pulled at by the wind, the jingle of harness as the soldiers around him moved from foot to foot or stretched to keep muscles from cramping on them.

Otherwise, silence, pretty much, which only made the waiting worse.
Across the other end of the valley, they were gathered. It looked like a huge wall of shadow from here, so large was the mass of enemies. Some early calculations based on what their local scouts told them, said that they were outnumbered somewhere between 450-1 and ‘it doesn’t really make much of a difference we’re all going to die anyway’.

Of course, thought Fionn, as he tightened then loosened the grip on his spear, they had almost every hero that had ever lived on their side so those were pretty good odds to some of them…but only if you actually believed the stories…

He smiled as he rotated his shoulders and looked around at the men and women beside him.

There was a knot of big Norsemen over there, all axes and hammers with their winged helmets and shiny armour. Big fella with the hammer had sparks jumping all over the place which was something Fionn considered unwise in the presence of so much nervous metal. They were clearly bonnie fighters though, he’d heard that the big one with hair and beard of the purest white had cut his way out of the dragon that’d tried to eat him. He caught Fionn’s eyes and cocked an snow-white eyebrown in greeting before turning his head back to the bigger fellow with the fancy hammer and sparks.

Fionn’s group of hairy, tattooed warriors stood in a loose knot of aggression, clustered around the Big Man himself, him as had brought them here from the Eagle Isles far away in the Mist.

The Wolf was big. He held a claymore casually over one shoulder, its metal full of strange blue reflections which danced along an edge that was, from certain angles, not entirely there. A large bearded axe, heavy with runes and knotwork designs, was being used to draw patterns in the dead desert dust.

Not a good place for fighting, Fionn spat in the dust and watched the moisture vanish almost right away. Already enough death here but he could feel the thirst for even more blood rising from the barren rocks like smoke.

The Wolf looked down at Fionn, or at least his heavily carved silver wolf mask did. Fionn never had figured out how Cú saw through those blue jewels his war mask had for eyes but on those rare occasions the Big Man felt inclined to speak, he’d said “clearer than you can imagine. Like eagles on the wing and wolves beneath a full moon see, I’d wager”.

The azure gaze lingered on Fionn long enough to cause the wiry hunter to finger his fine beech bow with a barely repressed shudder.

“Big Man likes you, so he does” Bran had said through bright red moustache. “The wee giant is his best mate, sure he is.”

At 5’10”, Fionn was small for a giant, slight of build and sparse of beard. His Da had been the giant that’d built the Causeway to get across to where his mother – daughter of some distant cousin of Bran Boru, a nasty lesser Lord of Ulaid- was being held prisoner as was the fashion of the time and Fionn the half-giant was the result.

The Big Man was near a foot taller than him and a great deal older, folk said. He came from the drowned lands under the Morimaru off the coast of Albion. They said he’d fought these fellas, the Fír Bolg and Bálor’s kin before. They said him and that blue-eyed devil with the two most beautiful swords Fionn had ever seen beside him went way back. Back even before the ice left and the sea came in.

“About bloody time,” the Big Man said to no-one in particular. He gestured towards the storm gathering over the Fír Bolg with his impossible sword held loosely in one hand. He bumped the blue-eyed devil, who appeared to be asleep standing up, on the leg with the flat of his axe. “That uncle of yours has decided to show up.”

The odd significance of those words made the hairs of Fionn’s heavily tattooed arms stand up and he gripped his bow even tighter.

“I know you’re in charge here, Sable,” Big Man continued all nonchalant as one of those priests getting off a boat in his dress to chase of the snakes Eíreann never had anyway. “But I’d suggest it’s time for that signal.

The one called Sable appeared to awake and look towards his friend. Fionn felt his gut tighten as those devil-blue eyes brushed his and fought the sudden wave of terror down with great effort. Sable nodded and waved one of his beautiful silver swords up in the air.

Far off, the deep growling scream of a war horn sounded, setting Fionn’s teeth on edge and his heart pumping harder. Another answered it, this one bright and singing like the way Fionn imagined a swan’s one and only song would sound. Across the valley, answering horns and trumpets winded, their discordant cacophony bouncing off the valley walls.

Big Man nodded and indicated the horizon with his sapphire wolf’s eyes.

“Here they come,” his normally booming voice barely above a whisper. “If you’ve any ginger on you, Atlantan, I think the men’ll be needing it soon.”

Sable nodded and rolled his neck, producing some fine crackles of bone Fionn most approved of. He said nothing and kept those eyes fixed on the black storm-front, crackling with lightning that could not be natural.
It took a moment for Fionn to see how right that assessment was…

The storm was no storm, it was…
In the boiling inkiness of the tortured air he saw them, colossal figures that were nearly not there. They looked like pictures of light projected into the storm…like…like…like ideas trying to take a shape.

They were like the star-creatures dropping from above, trying to become what men said they should be but struggling. He thought he could see four creatures slowly striding through the lightning but they kept blurring and changing like pigment in water, swirling and coming apart before reforming again.
Then, his temples pounding and his eyes threatening to turn themselves inside out, his mind let him see them. His béan sidhe heritage let things hidden from mere men reveal themselves to him.

There were four figures but, seeing them clearly now was not the blessing he’d thought it would be and he prayed for ignorance now.
As big as the sky and each filled with lightning, they strode over the innumerable Fír Bolg.

In robes the colour of the grave drifted the first, his raised hood empty and arm of bones holding a massive scythe whose blade was larger than the sky itself, it seemed. A smoke swirled around it and, as he felt horror knew at his gut, Fionn swore he saw faces in that smoke or, better said, the smoke was faces, millions of them. The scent of long abandoned tomb mounds drifted towards them.

As the second figure moved, the scent became stronger, richer and riper. This figure also bore a scythe in one emaciated hand but it looked normal compared to that which the first carried. The rest of the figure did not look normal. Every inch of its bare flesh not covered by crumbling rags was the deep black-brown of the long and dried up dead yet somehow it retained an unholy gloss to it . Atop stooped and bowed shoulders was the skull of a great ox or steer in place of a head, baleful and sickly fire burning from the eye sockets.

Compared to the bandy, famine-wracked frame of his neighbour, the next creature was a giant. Corroded heavy iron armour covered all but one corpse’s hand and splayed lizard-like feet. In one iron-clad hand, it gripped a vast bow of shining metal and in the pallid, diseased bare one it held an arrow from which unhealthy light did not shine so much as ooze, like pus from a wound. Its face was an outlandish mask of dull material covered in tubes and pipes with an opaque glass plate over its eyes and two great drums either side of where a mouth should be. From these drums a fog of a colour one could only describe as unhealthy huffed in and out periodically as if the creature were breathing it.

But Fionn had eyes only for the fourth figure for it was glorious. Behind it’s heavily armoured body spread vast wings of living flame. Where the other figures appeared to now be waiting and quiescent, this one was in constant motion. In one hand it held a whip which appeared made of broken blades hammered together and ending in a glowing skull of white-hot brass; it coiled and snapped with the sound of a heavy infantry charge with only the slightest movement of the creative’s right shoulder. In its left hand, it held a double-headed axe of molten iron easily as long as Fionn’s father had been tall. Upon its jagged armoured shoulders, brutal fire the colour of burning blood blazed from the dry sockets of the skull of a great ram. The eye wateringly bright fire that filled sockets and skull grew brighter and softer, brighter and softer…as if it were the breath of the creature. As it ‘breathed’, the stench of shit, and blood, hot iron, and fear sweat washed over Fionn and he was certain that the blaze of its gaze fixed upon him and only him within the multitude; weighing him up.

Fionn tore his gaze away, counted, and thought on his impressions of them; they scrabbled at and dug up something deeply primal within him and, when realisation finally broke the surface of his thoughts, the words fell from his quivering lips before he was even aware of the thought that heralded them.

“Oh shit, are those what I think they are?” he wavered. “Now we really are f-“

Sable, who it was now clear had been watching Fionn the whole time, cut in adroitly, his voice level and deep, filled with a confidence Fionn knew his lacked. “That’s them, half-giant,” his voice had a laugh to it for reasons Fionn could not fathom. “This is, indeed, IT”

Fionn said nothing but this time, when he met those blue eyes, it was not fear that he felt, it was hope. He licked dry lips and nodded.

“That one,” Sable indicated the burning whip cracker with one silver sword. “That one is mine, Conan.”

Such was Sable’s quiet assurance that Fionn felt certain that a million Fír Bolg would barely slow a man like that down.

“Everyone’s got to die sometime!” Big Man roared in reply, butting Sable with one shoulder, over the nervous clatter of a thousand suits of armour. “I want to see what colour that big sheepie bastard bleeds for myself!”

It was not even that funny, Fionn reflected as his voice joined the rising roar from the rest of the army, but he laughed along with the rest of them.

“This blue-eyed bugger has killed giants for fun so I’m for getting to that shiny bastard while there’s still big fekkers left to fight!” He roared even louder and stabbed claymore at sky. “Who is with me?”

In a wall of noise; terror transformed into desperate bravado, screams of rage, swords beating shields, and the sounding of horns from a hundred nations which filled the plains of Meggido from end to end, fifty thousand men and women told him that they were.

As they charged forward into certain ruin, the battle at the end of the world began…

Predisposition for Labels

An other short article I wrote many years ago but which I am going to rescue from lost-blogsville and give some modern beauty treatment to.

Oddly enough, many of you might see some of my inspiration for this piece right away, others maybe not as quickly…

I look out on the world today at times, I read the papers, watch the news, surf the ‘net, take my hound for a drag and do anything which involves seeing and meeting people and I often wander if we see the person anymore, or do we see the label? Imagine one of those old fashioned brown paper parcel labels, tied at the corner with string, but man-sized, woman-sized, child-sized, covered in what we are and what we perceived as being.

I am a big brown paper parcel label with words writ upon me, carrying my own identity, my colour, my race, my preferences, the opinions of myself and others. Sometimes others will approach me and scribble or scrawl upon my surface their thoughts – Liberal, Foreign, Poet, Writer, Animal Lover, Nutter, Crazy, Fun, Mad, Straight, Gay?, Posh, Poor, rival, unimportant, Not Required – so on and so on and so on.

But who am I really? What makes me tick, what ties all of my label together? There is a writer’s joke I may just have made up (but how will you know); there are two kinds of book; there are those where words are thrown randomly together and somehow make vaguely interesting reading when one is bored and there are dictionaries. To be serious, though, what kind of story can you make without at least making some attempt to take all fo your scattered words and arrange them into some sort of order? A story is no good without a structure right? So a label just covered in random words….how would that work? Basing me on just what my label says wouldn’t come close to explaining who I really am would it? Maybe if it did, a lot of possible misunderstandings could be avoided… Let’s be honest here; we are very good at being superficial as a species. Of doing just the most basic flying browse of people’s labels, based on the largest or scariest words there recorded, words we are told about but may not adequately understand. Words like Moslem. Chrisitian. Socialism. Universal Healthcare. Freedom. Peace. Nazi. Fascist. Gay. Straight. We understand all of these badly most of the time. Seems we really don’t like to read the dictionary in order to form up a decent narrative doesn’t it?

Those words we have listed above are some of the most misunderstood words in the English language today. Most people are told what they mean and don’t even bother to check in the dictionary for themselves. We truly are in the Lazy Ages aren’t we? People prefer to do their research by proxy yet they sit there all smug and self-important like they came up with the idea all by themselves. My advice; do your research and then come back to me when you are better informed. Use the intelligence God gave to you!

So look, I am supposed to be a Christian because I believe in Yeshua ben Josua (aka Jesus Christ), God and the Bible (although I’m perfectly ready to accept said book is full of confusion, inconsistencies, plot holes, and terrible editing work). However I don’t believe in the need to attend a certain building or to belong to a group of hypocritical people who like to make things up which are not in aforementioned Bible. Techncially I am a Christian but what am I actually? See? Someone might have heard I write about Jesus occasionally and put the same thing on my label as might apear on the label of one of those American Fundie nutters who hate everyone who isn’t white, overweight and seriously into badly designed sweaters.

It’s easy to generalise, right? It’s also an awful thing to do because it leads to a lot of misunderstandings and unnecessary conflicts. Compare the two following “labels”; this one for America itself. Two different people wrote about the same thing but how different are the words they used? Am I my label and what it says about me? Do I introduce myself to new people or do i stand there quietly while they read? Do I check what’s written or do I refuse to read and just say what I know?

Hmmmm interesting? What happens if I edit my label myself? What would happen were I to write down what I myself think and pay no regard for what others might say? Now that’s dangerous…deliciously dangerous perhaps? What complicates it even more is that different people read what is written in different ways……to some I am a good person, to others a nut, to some I am attractive, to others well… To some I am a kindred spirit, to others and enemy or an opposite……How am I to keep track of all of these things? I could edit my label maybe? I could correct some of the entries and set the record straight? How long would that take? So the appearance of my label changes over time anyway, the string gets longer or maybe frayed, perhaps it needs changing – maybe the style of the pen changes, from crayon, fibre tips, magic marker, biro, fountain pen(!) and back again……

All this creates the overall, the image….Sometimes people look at the style and look of the label and don’t even bother to read what is on it……How could I keep up? Should I wipe my label clean, change it for one of the nice shiny plastic ones I see here and there, upgrade? It does seem like the cultural nazis on either side of the great political divide want me to live my life one way or another…independant thought is not encouraged but conformity is….you have to freedom to express your individuality within preset templates.

Next I’m sure I’ll be accused of immorality because I let my dog parade around naked and will of course be responsible, in no small part, for the moral decline of some nation or another……Maybe I need a teflon label? Nothing seems to stick to those, I think there are politicians out there that use them……Io what to do with my label? Upgrade? Recycle? Repurpose? Edit? Translate? Update? Too late? Or should I take my label, hold it firmly in both hands and carefully, methodically, tear it into tiny, tiny little shreds?

#Labels #Label #stereotype #thoughts #social #philosophy #writers #outofthebox

The Birth of Evil?

Is Evil born or is it Made?
Let’s talk about evil, about the bad guy, about the one True Embodiment of All Things Evil! Let’s talk about the antagonist only the Chosen One can defeat because narrative causality loves to leave anonymous Chosen One’s scattered around for Mentors to stumble upon by pure chance. It actually turns out that it wasn’t so pure after all…turns out there is no such thing as chance anywhere a writer has been!
Now tell me about your most memorable villain. Was it someone like Sauron that you knew next to nothing about? Was it that snake-faced fellow in Harry Potter? I will admit Rowling did quite well there; the faceless force of all evil with a later introduced back story. It was decently done. But it wasn’t enough on time, I feel.
I enjoy a quote which is somewhat popular
“No-one gets up in the morning and as, they they prepare their decaf and muesli, decide that today is the day they make the commitment and get that whole ‘Epitomy of all Evil’ thing started up…”
Maybe there are one of two who did but I doubt it. Think about this one too;
“No-one is ever the villain in their own story..”
This is also very true and, if you really want to get into it, profound. No-one is ever the villain in their own story. Do you realise the one difference between – aha – Readers and Writers? We writers tend to share our stories as an extended form of allegory.
Everyone is Writing their Own Story.
Every hour of every day, every single person on the planet is writing their own story. We could, at great depth, take a dive into the subject of consciousness. We could talk about our conscious narrator, or unconscious narrator and even the sub-conscious narrator. We could apply these to writing styles, we could even expound on how literature is a direct result of craziness but not today. You can do that if you like, we can use this as a prompt.
Let’s just leave it as an idea. We write our own stories in our own heads as we organise the events of the day. Those who tell lies, build a narrative to fit their lies into and even convince themselves it is truth in order to be able to tell their story convincingly. Today we might call such a thing FAKE NEWS or similar.
The take away from that is simple, though; ten people who experience the same event might later tell it differently. Even the one who is later labelled ‘Villain’ might have their own version of events which contains justification for that which others call ‘evil’ or ‘wrong.’
The Villain is Never Evil to Themselves.
Even someone like Hitler did not jump to his feet one morning and decide “I will become the most hated man in history today!” I am sure that he was convinced that he was doing good, that his course was right. He was probably sure that he was, in fact, the hero.
Look at all the serial killers who thought that God was giving them instructions. The murderers who were certain that they were eliminating evil. The war criminals who were convinced that they were saving their country. The list goes on and on. One could spend hours and days researching this subject and see the same thing, repeated over and over;
“I Did not know!”
I did not know…I thought it was right, I thought i was saving lives…I thought that if we took away the bad two-thirds of life on Earth, then all would reset and the good would rebuild…and end to starvation, war and want…I did not know the innocent would die…
One scene which strikes me is when Lestat goes to Hell in Anne Rice’s Memnoch the Devil. Almost all the guests of Hell are, when confronted by the reality of their actions, horrified. Once they see the consequences they scream as one “I did not know!” and beg forgiveness. Sooner or later, they will beg, it is said. Some, convinced of their Right, might take longer than others. Some might take forever.
We did not Know…
We’ve all done it, I’m sure. We all have. Ignored a person in need. Ended a relationship we could not handle. Spurned the attentions of a person we did not like. Said someone hateful and nasty. We did not consider the consequences though because we are convinced that we are doing right; our inner narrator told us so. We did not know…
There is a vital difference though.
In simple narrative explanation this quote surely applies;
“The hero is one who is aware of their failures and blames themselves for one failure or another and seeks to make up for it. The Villain is one who blames others for their failures and seeks revenge of those same people they blame…”
Simple right? Perhaps overly so but, as they saying goes, the simple truths are the the most powerful.I would like you, though, to revisit those villains I asked you to think about earlier. Tell me about about them.
The Villain who Stands Out
The villain who stands out is the one who is most memorable. The one who makes the reader uncomfortable, who squirms as he reads about them. She will get shivers and nasty feelings as she considers their thoughts. Why?
The phrase “there, but for the grace of God, go I” will often fill the mind of the reader as they see what the villain who is written well. “The road to Hell is paved with good intentions” apparently and a good villain will be one who started out doing good. He or she will have had what they were certain were the best interests of all at heart but then they were faced with a choice. I call this choice The Hero’s Test. This choice; let us use a coin to visualise it correctly. Heads means you take choice A; tails elects choice B. What you may or may not know is that one choice may mean the complete and utter failure of your plans, the other their absolute success.
If you choose one, everything that ever matters to you might well be gone. Choose the other and you save it. not only do you save it but everyone knows that you saved it and they will praise you for the act.
At least that’s what you think. We all tend to believe that other people think as we do, don’t we?
The Hero’s Choice
The hero tends to be seen as the one who has it all together and is universally admired by all who meet them. They slay the bad guys and save the maidens or whatever male maidens are called. They slay the dragons and vanquish the darkness. They bring an end to horrors and smash the plans of the villain forever and ever! They are the business and no mistake! Right?
Not entirely, eh?
At some point the would have been presented with a choice and, chances are, that choice was not necessarily the right one. In the short term, that is.
In the long term, that choice made the hero into, in fact, the actual hero. The decision, the choice, taught them deep and important lessons. They may have wanted revenge at first and either sought out or encountered Wise Mentor. After finding Wise Mentor, they may well have learned what truly matters and might also have discovered their Chosen Oneness at the same time. They were then presented with a new choice and how they decided at that moment, placed them on the Hero’s Path.
Let us not forget they their earlier choice tends to result in the immediate deaths of everyone that they ever cared about.
The Villain’s Choice
Remember that coin we were speaking about earlier? I intentionally did not mention it again until now. What do coins always have? It does not matter where the coin is from, whose portrait it bears, of what material it is made and from what part of history it comes, all coins have this in common. It matters not their shape or value, all coins have two sides. The heads and the tails are it were.
Now what are good and evil but two sides of the same coin? What are the hero and the villain but two choices under the same circumstances?
Remember what we learned earlier about choices and blame. The hero will take one path because he blames himself, the villain another because she blames someone else.
The hero will perhaps begin with vengeance as his goal but Wise Mentor might teach him that there are more important things than bathing oneself in the blood of the guilty. Like saving the lives of the ones who are left, for example. Of stopping the Evil One from putting others through what the hero has been through.
The villain, though, has a different approach. he will make sure that the guilty pay and he will also make certain that no-one can hurt him again by taking over and passing laws about it, as well as surrounding himself in elite soldiers and monsters to make sure of it.
You see it is all a matter of perspective. I use one more quote which, I feel, shows the true difference;
“Remember the dead, but fight for the living…” (Hellgate : London, Flagship Studios)
See how neatly that encapsulates it? The villain will remember the dead and this will drive him to making sure he is able to control death by accessing secret teachings and powers. The hero will protect those left alive in honour of those who have died. She will never forget those she has lost but decides the best way to honour them and return to them as worthy is to save as many as she can can before she falls in their defense.
The villain, though, turns inward instead of outward. He takes the short cut, the easier way. He does not consider nor admit failure. Again, it’s about perspective.
This is what can make the villain interesting, though. The idealist, the shining light, the Greatest One, becoming the Shadow, the Evil, the Bad Guy!
Think about the most famous fall from grace there ever has been. One of the central characters of the Chronicles of Enoch in fact; Lucifer, the Light-Bringer, Star of the Morning, The Devil.
In the Chronicles, we meet Lucifer in Chapter Four and learn something vitally important about him. He is convinced that Mankind will disappoint his Father and dishonour Him. He has set out to create and refine the human race with his nephilim and has been improving the strain over the eons in order to create a race worthy of their Creator. A race in his image. Not the race in the Creator’s image which he started with but in Lucifer’s own image.
To Give what is Needed, not What is Asked.
Lucifer is certain that the Creator made him because of one vital difference he discovered in himself when he made his Choice. Intelligence and creativity. He compares himself to Michael who will follow the Creator’s orders blindly as he does when Judgement is brought to Atlantis and the world drowned.
He famously tells Michael “I am giving him what He needs, not what He asks..” to which Michael rages “who are you to deign to know the mind of the Creator?”
Who indeed? Lucifer, apparently, was made for that very purpose. Everything he does is to make his Father proud of him. He will bring the universe down to prove to his Father that he loves him! Look at how many sacrifices he is prepared to make in His honour! His own life? Why? Who then would make sure things are done right?
Lucifer will selflessly and generously sacrifice each and every life in the universe to show his commitment to his Father’s ideal.
To do What is Right no Matter the Damnation Awaiting
The we have Sable. Sable is the opposite side of Lucifer’s coin. Sable was also there when Michael delivered the Creator’s Judgement. he saw almost all his people wiped out. he heard the Herald declare all nephilim Abomination in the Father’s eyes. He expressed a desire to erase them – each and every one – from existence. Understandably, Sable was initially quite bitter about this. Then he saved Enoch’s life (again) from a group of marauding nephilim near Gemorrah and had a moment of deep epiphany that shocked even the Prophet who thought that he’d seen it all and was, therefore, quite unshockable.
Sable chose to focus on the Outward. He decided that it didn’t matter that the Creator had damned him and his entire race. He knew what Right was and he would be better off dead than to do Evil. He was already damned so what did he have to lose?
He’d already lost everything but had one thing of value left, his soul. He might as well keep that for however long he remained on Earth, right? He was sure to lose it when he eventually died but until then…he knew what Right was and to do anything other would be a lie.
A Necessary – ah – Evil? Someone Must Do That Which Nobody Else Dares To Do…
Of course we have black and we have white. We have light and we have shadow. We have a coin with two faces; head and tails. Yet we do, limited as we find ourselves to be, neglect that a coin is not, in fact, two dimensional. The coin was width, the coin has height, the coin (if circular) has circumference and radius. The coin, being a three-dimensional object, also has depth. It has an edge, that space between it’s two faces or ‘sides’. Between two sides, it would appear, there is an area which is neither side but also part of each…
“Suppose you toss a coin enough times, suppose that one day that coin lands on it’s edge…” Kain – Soul Reaver 2, Crystal Dynamics Games
So; we’re only allowed Hero and Villain then? Why? You’re so stiff and controlling that you might be turning into a villain at this point! How better can the difference between Light and Darkness be best considered than by observing the Eclipse? The Twilight, The Dawn?
We forget about Asmodeus but, then again, he likes it that way.
Asmodeus feels that he had the same Choice as Lucifer and Sable but he had to decide not selfishly for himself as they did. He had to make the choice neither of them dared to. The choice which made sure that they both survived long enough to let the two sides of the coin decide which one would win. To walk the edge and be the edge which held them together but apart long enough for the matter to be decided once and for all. Even if that meant the coin was destroyed in the process.
Asmodeus is a great believer in the saying “evil contains the seeds of it’s own destruction” but feels that, at times at least, the conditions needed for those seeds to germinate must be – ah – assisted.
“I am walking balanced on the thinnest and most dangerous line in existence. So narrow and thin I can barely see it unless I move my eyes just right. So dangerous because I must hide as I sway this way and that for on either hand there are hands which will pull me down..”
Someone has to do it though, right?
A Coin with Two Sides, then, but Also an Edge?
Real life does not contain simply two types of people. There are not just paragonic Saints and deplorable devils. Half of the problem with the world of today is the two-dimensional short-sightedness of the people and what they read. In the world of today; in politics mostly, we have One and we have Another. We don’t have in-between, apparently. We have no room for shades of grey between black and white.
Why can there only be one side or another in your story? In the real world you will have Us and Them; Them and Us, true. You also have the waverers, the undecided, the almost-rans, the apathetic, the no-ones, for silent and forgotten. You have so many classes or people that you forget the most vital lesson this life must teach us.
There are no classes, only people. People do not fit into boxes nor class. People are people and no two are the same.
Now, there is no reason to avoid archetypes and the odd stereotype here and there, people expect them. Equally there is no reason not to try and surprise them and break their expectations apart when you can now is there?
Hero. Villain. Anti-Hero/Almost-Villain. Why used a two-dimensional decision structure to represent the three-dimensional being? People indeed have three dimensions and perhaps they more than that.
What matters is that you give them something they want to read, something unique and completely new while still keeping it comfortingly the same where it truly matters.
Confused? Good!
Now it is your turn to do the thinking.
Go! Your thoughts in the comments, please or, if you like, drop us an email.