Friday, June 20, 2008

Killer Ink

photo by Buzz Images.

From my theme calendar, titled "Daring."

I would call it something else.

Certain events from last Sunday may be responsible for my attitude adjustment toward the end of the sour scale.
When robins begin to hunt for worms and nest mud in one's eaves troughs, I consider it a sign they need cleaning .
No, I didn't fall off the aluminum extension ladder. That part of the process was accomplished without incident. Nothing like the picture. Much more bathotic.
Intending to whang on the elbow of the down spout to make sure it was clear of maple wings and leaf mulch, I stepped on a sweet little green wooden bench that sits (sat) invitingly under the ivory silk lilac by my kitchen door.
Said sweet little green bench harboured secret rot and collapsed. My left foot doubled under me.
X-rays show no fracture. Apparently I have bones of steel. Interesting colours though and still much larger than the other.
I sport a dragon-headed cane. And threaten people with it.

Just realized that I'm a killer.
In all of the Lillie St. Claire chronicles, people die. Not nicely.
On scene and off. Good people and bad people.
In Stone Child, for example, beaten to death, by troll and big rocks.
The villains get it in Corpse Candles too. They
And in A Malignity, a little knifey mutilation on Lillie by the chief bad guy precedes his death by Sig Sauer.
Have wiped out a even dozen so far. Shocking. There are so many neat ways to kill people, including death by ghost.
Yet I don't think one will get the impression the stories are littered with corpses. I tend to understate violence by means of the bald fact method.

How do you prefer to see killing done?


BernardL said...

We all take an inviting step we shouldn't at some time or another. I'm happy to hear your step off didn't end in something much worse. I do at times kill graphically in my novels. It always has a purpose though.

Ric said...

Ah, the menacing lady who lives up the lane, dispatching sundry dogs and small children with a swipe of her cane.

Works for me.

laughingwolf said...

sorry for your pain, bernita, hurry well

i slipped on ice last winter, taking garbage out... fell hard on left elbow, cracked back of head to brick wall, saw stars for a few seconds... left arm bruised from wrist to armpit, still a walnut sized lump at elbow, xrays showed not break/fracture

as for 'killings', any and all could be, in the most appropriate way i can think of at the time ;) lol

Bernita said...

Thank you, Bernard.Had visions of a cast and clunking around forever.

I like to set up reason/motive for killing them off.

Ric, that's a poem.You should extend it.
~dogs and small children like me though~

Chumplet said...

There's nothing like a timely mishap to shape your writing into a violent act you'd rather perform on that pesky bench.

Hope you heal quickly!

Rick said...


I'm not particularly graphic about death; I spend more time on the picnic lunch packed for a traitor's execution than on the stroke of justice. Though perhaps the picnic is the most shocking part, to current sensibility.

How do you count the death toll in a book that involves warfare? If a ship blows up onscreen, does that count as one murder, or one count per crewman? (Oddly, I don't have this, even though it is nearly the first generation when a ship could blow up real good.)

Bernita said...

It's not so bad now, Laughingwolf, thank you.
An elbow would be much, much worse than a foot from what I hear.

Bernita said...

Rick, numbers blur in that situation. For impact, death is individual.
I don't go in for graphics much either.I count on the reader's imagination. As you do with your contrasting juxtaposition.

Bernita said...

Sandra, I felt betrayed! I liked that little bench.
You're right. Probably wouldn't have blogged about killing characters otherwise.

Rick said...

Killing characters is part of the job, at least in some genres. There's a whole aesthetic for innocent bystanders, redshirts, NHI types, perps, and sympathetic characters.

Speaking of hurting sympathetic characters, a little knifey mutilation on Lillie - yikes! I trust the baddie is rudely interrupted just before he starts to have real fun.

Sarah Hina said...

So sorry you're hobbled, but there is something about a cane, and especially a dragon-headed one. Does it spit fire? ;)

Death by a broken heart--that's the cruelest cut.

writtenwyrdd said...

But bernita, I am sure they all DESERVED it. Heh.

Funny how bloodyminded we can be as writers yet quite friendly in person.

I'm so glad your injury was not worse. And at least the accident was not due to your clumsiness but due to wood rot. And like bernard says, "we all take an inviting step we shouldn't at one time or another." I like that line.

Bernita said...

She may have scars, Rick, but yes, he gets blown away.

Sarah, the cane pretends it does.

Not the innocent ones, of course, Written, but I like to see bad characters...exterminated.
I'm all for extreme prejudice.

spyscribbler said...

You murderess, you. ;-) A dragon's head cane?

I pray your foot gets better. I sorta did something like that. I unfortunately didn't break it, but screwed it up completely. Still hoping it will get fixed, two years later. I miss my taekwondo practice. :-(

Bernita said...

Natasha, I didn't feel much like using the cane with the frog on it.
Hope I don't go through what you're going through.

StarvingWriteNow said...

Well, my personal title for that picture would be: "AAAAHHH!!!"

Hope your foot feels better soon. In the meantime, brandish that cane at all comers!

Bernita said...

Picture gives me palpitations, Beth!

Thank you all for your good wishes.

What I'd really like is a good scandal/cat fight to erupt on a blog somewhere. Keeps one's mind off aches and pains wonderfully.

Rick said...

In some genres and settings, a tough little ethical call at the end. Finish the SOB off, or lower the spear and say "Tell it to the jury."

Charles Gramlich said...

You should post a picture with you and the cane. I'm sorry you hurt yourself. I've only had one bad sprained ankle but I still remember the colors and the pain.

Bernita said...

True, Rick. Ethics have to be carefully thought out, I agree.
In this case the spear was lowered - and he chose to ignore it.
In Stone Child ,trying to save the guilty would mean risking the innocent, including a child.
In Corpse Candles, the guilty flee when no man pursueth...

Thank you, Charles.Maybe just the cane. It's cute. Funny thing, the ankle is fine.

Rick said...

In this case the spear was lowered - and he chose to ignore it. Resisting arrest. Give a statement to the sergeant, and let 'em get on with processing the scene and notifying the morgue.

raine said...

Oh no!
Hope your swelling and bruising heal quickly.
Suggest keeping the cane, though, just because it sounds impressive. ;)

I've only killed one villain. Must get on the stick.
And for some reason, I liked detailing the victim's reaction to his own death, rather than a graphic description of how it was accomplished.

Be well!

Demon Hunter said...

Ah, there are so many ways to kill characters. In my action/drama screenplay, I came up with a few beauties. :*) Proud of myself. I like diversity, Bernita. I can be from the subtle to the outright gory.

cindy said...

i'm actually such a wimp. i hate to see any type of violence in film and i'm slightly more tolerant with books. (esp since fantasy tends to have battles and such.)

but my own killings are rather violent as well. i admit, i was rather moved when i killed a character in the novel--and each time i got to that place to revise, i'd find myself dawdling due to emotional investment i knew i'd have to make.

maybe it gets easier with more deaths? that was my first.

great post, b! and happy weekend!

Bernita said...

What does one do with a mad dog anyway, Rick?

Problem is, Raine, it's hard to keep off a foot ( though it's hoisted on the desk by the computer right now.)
Thank you.
I was amazed at the body count, really.

"Ah, there are so many ways to kill characters"
Right, Demon Dear.
~rubs hands~
For me, the best gore is in the mind.

Dave F. said...

A number of years back (near her 80th birthday), I forbid my Mother from standing on step stools or ladders. She gets dizzy when she stands on a sidewalk with a high curb. And I'm glad that there is an elevator in her house. It was mine, now it's keeps her safe. Well worth it.

I hate to say it after the fact, but at some point (young or old) everyone should forget step stools and ladders and those things. Although I did catch our safety man at work standing on his desk chair with it perched on top of his desk to fix the air vents.
Please don't do things like that. Whatever is up there too high to reach will stay there for a long time without hurting itself.

Killing? I'd rather not kill off characters but I tend to do it in bloody ways. That's a bad habit I have of writing like a slasher movie.

Bernita said...

Thank you, Cindy.

Don't know if it gets easier. Each death is different.
I find myself fussing most over the aftermath/ the residuals.

Bernita said...

Dave, a chair on top of a desk sounds perfectly solid and reasonable to me.
This damn thing was only about 2 feet high and it's not as if I weigh a lot either.

Dave F. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dave F. said...

But Bernita, he was our OSHA Compliance Officer.

I do like the dragon-headed cane, though. Not for walking, just for effect. Wire up those eyes with red LEDs and go to it.

Get well and be careful.

Bernita said...

"he was our OSHA Compliance Officer"

Dave, you know they are the very worst kind!

Gives one all sorts of ideas for canes, doesn't it. Lemme see: a taser-charged cane...modern version of a sword stick.

Thank you.

Whirlochre said...

I find myself drawn to absurd violence or the limbo/eternity thing — and that's just my preference for chocolate.

Hope your foot improves and your cane earns you local notoriety as Lady Of Menace. Do prod the idle youth with it as they scoot past on their skateboards.

Bernita said...

Am afraid my violence is always of the logical variety, Whirl.

Unfortunately, skate boards are prohibited on the sidewalks of my town - makes for a distressing lack of potential victims - but thank you for that evil thought.

Robyn said...

I personally would caption the picture "Dumbshit, dumbshit, dumbshit..."

Hope you are taking it easy. You know I don't like graphic depictions of death, but I didn't find anything objectionable in Stone Child. It all fit with the story.

Bernita said...

Yep. My first thought was IDIOT.
Thank you, Robyn. I thought long and hard about that ending. Lillie has very basic ideas about justice. She also felt the trolls were entitled to theirs.

Rick said...

Cindy - i was rather moved when i killed a character in the novel--and each time i got to that place to revise, i'd find myself dawdling due to emotional investment i knew i'd have to make.

Playing God is tough! Sometimes there is no really good choice. If I keep one young woman alive, I'm a wimp; if I kill her, I'm jerking the reader around. Right now I'm sparing her, until/unless editorial advice is otherwise. Then it's 'Sorry, Maddie! Nothing personal; it's showbiz.'

SzélsőFa said...

Get well soon, Bernita!

re:death in stories:
I like details as long as they serve a due purpose.
And as someone said, here and elsewhere as well; the death of hundreds is history, the death of one person, watched from closely is rather personal and can have a deeper effect on the reader/viewer.

As you know, I am to kill my MC, if only I had the time....

Gabriele C. said...

That sounds pretty much like what happened when I slipped on the gangway leaving the ferry. It's three weeks now and while the rainbow colours have mostly faded, there's still some pain when I walk for an extended time, and the foot tends to swell in the evening.

I never used a cane, though. I have that weird sort of pride not to show weaknesses. I should get around and get me some reading glasses but can't be bothered. I'm not so old I need them, dangit. ;

Bernita said...

Thank you, Szelsofa.

"I like details as long as they serve a due purpose." - that, I think, is the point. Details, if any, must add value.

Sucks, doesn't it, Gabriele.
I prefer the measured locomotion with the cane to the drunken lurch and limp I'd be forced to adopt without one and the indignity of finding myself flat on my sorry ass.

ChrisEldin said...

I like how they do it on Law and Order.

Gabriele C. said...

Lol, I managed to walk almost normally even the first days, but it took some gnashing of teeth.

laughingwolf said...

good that nothing broke on your part, either

as for the elbow, i think i aggravate it as i tend to lean on it a lot, being right handed... often it reminds me, painfully, all is not well...

looking forward to monday!

Bernita said...

I've never watched that show, Chris.

Perhaps I'm just a wimp then, Gabriele.

Suzanne Perazzini said...

How do I like the killing done? Not too gruesomely and without torture.
I'm sorry to hear about your ankle. I hope it heals quickly.

Steve Malley said...

Though personally unbreakable, I would consider faking some manner of injury for the privilege of using a dragon-head cane.

How awesome...

Bernita said...

Laughingwolf, some parts are so complicated it's no wonder they take longer to heal.
That's so nice. See you there!

Thank you, Suzanne.Oddly enough, the ankle is fine.

Bernita said...

A delightful accessory, is it not, Steve? I think it a pity they went out of style for gentlemen and boulevardiers.

Gabriele C. said...

Nay, you're a sensible woman who doesn't want to put more strain on her body than necessary while I'm a stupid girl who's grown up with too much praise for not showing pain. ;)

Bernita said...

Sometimes, Gabriele, the muscles just refuse to co-operate.

Scott from Oregon said...

Another crazy benched...

Err... Another crazy bench!

Years ago, I worked on a rotten deck about seventy feet off the inclined hill below.

When you found a soft spot, you knew it by the mosture in your underwear.

You had to remember to throw your spinning power tool and sprawl out to keep from finding the bottom...

I do like the idea of a cane, though.

You can get a lot of respect with a cane.

Hope you heel properly soon.

Bernita said...

"Another crazy benched..."
"You can get a lot of respect with a cane."
(So, how come I didn't?)

Thank you, Scott.Fun post. Made me laugh!

Jeff said...

I'm sorry you hurt your ankle, but I'll bet you look pretty cool sporting that dragon-headed cane.
I hope you recover quickly.

Jennifer said...

Oh OUCH!! I hate twisted ankles - they hurt so much!! I hope yours gets well soon, though as a twisted ankle expert, I know they heal slowly at best. My broken arm healed faster than my twisted ankle - and what's silly is I got lots of sympathy for the arm (hardly felt a thing - and the cast was off after three weeks) and hardly any 'ooohh poor you's' for my black and blue ankle that had me limping for nearly 6 months.

As for killings - hmmmm. I don't like anything done 'on scene' - I'd rather stumble on the finished job and try to figure out 'who dunnit'.

Bernita said...

htThank you, Jeff and Sam.

It's not my ankle though, it's my foot, where all the little bones are at the front of my instep.Had visions of a row of little white shards popping through the top.

Sam, they do say a broken ankle will heal faster than a twisted one.

Jon M said...

Sorry to hear about the leg, hope it heals quickly and well. I've broken my ankle once or twice but sometimes sprains are worse.

I like killing my characters by disembowelling them...hmmmm.

Bernita said...

Thank you, Jon.
Disembowelling, eh? Hmmm, indeed. An unkind cut.And very personal.
I seem to have the tendency to squish and rip.

Carla said...

Hope your foot recovers soon!

Bernita said...

Thank you, Carla.
Am grateful it's not a hand!

Travis Erwin said...

Here's wishing you a speedy recovery.

laughingwolf said...

sounds like more fun, chris is a great hostess :)

Barbara Martin said...

There are characters in each of the two manuscripts I have written, and expect there will be more in the third. Each of their untimely deaths are under different methods, few by accident.

Perhaps with your mishap you should take it easy for a few days to muse about your writing.

The photo is perfect inspiration to write something short about how the person came to be hanging off the rock tower.

Bernita said...

Travis, thank you.
Glad you found a dog!

It'll be a hot time, Laughingwolf.

Barbara, you have a lovely blog.
I'm always musing about writing though.It would really be an off day when I don't.
Yep, the photo lends itself to flash fiction.

LadyBronco said...

I have a feeling you will have no problems yielding your mighty dragon cane, ma'am. :0)

I prefer killing to fit the story.

At times, a matter-of-fact approach is definitely preferred, but there are indeed times when it is supremely satisfying to see the antagonist get his/hers, and take as long a time as possible without losing the reader's interest.

Best wishes on your foot, Bernita ~ get well quickly!

Bernita said...

Thank you, Lady B.
Have found I can adopt an amazing number of nonchalant/thoughtful attitudes with a cane!

Lana Gramlich said...

I'm so sorry! Hope you feel better soon. Glad there's no break, anyway!

Bernita said...

No break is a BIG mercy, Lana. Thank you. Almost down to normal size now.