Poking Holes in Your Lovely Little Tank by @StartYourNovel

Poking Holes in Your Lovely Little Tank

FlasFiction

by John Magnet Bell
@startyournovel

John Magnet Bell

 

Marcellina had a man living in the cellar, a man running from the Germans in black. Half the village concealed the fact from the other half, and especially from the curate’s governess, with her fear of the old religion. For the man dealt in curses and philters. 

###

Chameleon Collector

More awesome by mad geniuses here on the GANG!

The Revelator by @deathofnation
How I made a Million Streaming on Twitch by @Faryna
What can Robert de Niro teach you about writing?
Say Something by @Faryna

More flash fiction by John Magnet Bell:

The Second Coming of Gweed
The Chomping Mouth at the End of June
The Angels of Provenance
Have You Seen my Wife’s Mustache?

About John Magnet Bell

John is a professional translator, writer and photographer. He writes about writing and he writes unconventional flashes of fiction at his website, Start Your Novel. Why? John explains his passion here.

Twitter: @StartYourNovel
Google+: JMBell
Tumblr: http://johnmagnetbell.tumblr.com/
Website: Start Your Novel

Please support John so that he can keep writing epic prompts! You can buy his shocking art at society6: http://society6.com/johnmagnetbell A Constellation of Hexagons  

Elfblood Tastes Like Honey by @StartYourNovel

 

Elfblood Tastes Like Honey

FlasFiction

by John Magnet Bell
@startyournovel

 

John Magnet Bell

 

 

Ko’s father returned to the village with a string of mouthwater glimmering on his beard and a mad glee in his eyes.


“Little people,” he told Ko. “In the forest.” He rubbed his belly, bit his underlip and nodded.
Ko went ahhh.

“They build houses now,” said father. “We wait.”

###

Honosuke

Source

More awesome by mad geniuses here on the GANG!

The Revelator by @deathofnation
How I made a Million Streaming on Twitch by @Faryna
What can Robert de Niro teach you about writing?
Say Something by @Faryna



More flash fiction by John Magnet Bell:

The Second Coming of Gweed
The Chomping Mouth at the End of June
The Angels of Provenance
Have You Seen my Wife’s Mustache?

About John Magnet Bell

John is a professional translator, writer and photographer. He writes about writing and he writes unconventional flashes of fiction at his website, Start Your Novel. Why? John explains his passion here.

Twitter: @StartYourNovel
Google+: JMBell
Tumblr: http://johnmagnetbell.tumblr.com/
Website: Start Your Novel

Please support John so that he can keep writing epic prompts! You can buy his shocking art at society6: http://society6.com/johnmagnetbell

The Challenge

 

Road Rage of Aquarius by @StartYourNovel

Road Rage of Aquarius


FlasFiction


by John Magnet Bell
@startyournovel

John Magnet Bell

Karl Kustom Corvette Coupe 1960 Style 2

You drive too fast, Malcolm, and you hate everyone. You refuse to acknowledge this is a problem. 

“Shut up, car,” said Malcolm.

Warning: You’ve exceeded your monthly minutes of manual driving. Lock steering wheel in 3, 2…


“Override. 4167 B.”


Warning: Seven manual-drive vehicles detected.


Malcolm’s middle finger itched already.


###

Notes

Yes, I got my title from The 5th Dimension song, “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine in” and yes, I watched The 40-Year-Old Virgin and had a good laugh, loved that they included this song at the end of the movie.

The astrological Age of Aquarius is the age of electricity, computers, democracy, humanism, rebellion, nervous disorders…

… I look forward to the Age of Capricorn.

More awesome by mad geniuses here on the GANG!

The Revelator by @deathofnation
How I made a Million Streaming on Twitch by @Faryna
What can Robert de Niro teach you about writing?
Say Something by @Faryna



More flash fiction by John Magnet Bell:

The Second Coming of Gweed
The Chomping Mouth at the End of June
The Angels of Provenance
Have You Seen my Wife’s Mustache?

About John Magnet Bell

John is a professional translator, writer and photographer. He writes about writing and he writes unconventional flashes of fiction at his website, Start Your Novel. Why? John explains his passion here.

Twitter: @StartYourNovel
Google+: JMBell
Tumblr: http://johnmagnetbell.tumblr.com/
Website: Start Your Novel

Please support John so that he can keep writing epic prompts! You can buy his shocking art at society6: http://society6.com/johnmagnetbell

The Next Step by John Magnet Bell

The Next Step by John Magnet Bell

 

Flash Fiction: Big Stone Book of Trollish Insults by @StartYourNovel

Big Stone Book of Trollish Insults


FlasFiction


by John Magnet Bell
@startyournovel

John Magnet Bell

Shame of the Fireside, black tusker, hunter of clouds — I earned these names and worse because I fell in love with a human alchemist’s son.

My sisters drove me from the home fire and I lived on wolves and other vermin. I looked for my beloved without cease.

I imagine the alchemist’s son
would look something like this.
Image sourced from this io9 article, which includes a dozen more intriguing pictures of 1970s cosplayers
NB.: If you’re uncomfortable with loincloths, diaphanous tunics and exposed breasts, don’t go there.

###

More awesome by mad geniuses here on the GANG!

Creepy by @Faryna
What can Robert de Niro teach you about writing?
One Red Shoe
What can Monty Python teach you about writing?



More flash fiction by John Magnet Bell:

The Second Coming of Gweed
The Chomping Mouth at the End of June
The Angels of Provenance
Have You Seen my Wife’s Mustache?

About John Magnet Bell

John is a professional translator, writer and photographer. He writes about writing and he writes unconventional flashes of fiction at his website, Start Your Novel. Why? John explains his passion here.

Twitter: @StartYourNovel
Google+: JMBell
Tumblr: http://johnmagnetbell.tumblr.com/
Website: Start Your Novel

Please support John so that he can keep writing epic prompts! You can buy his shocking art at society6: http://society6.com/johnmagnetbell

The Next Step by John Magnet Bell

The Next Step by John Magnet Bell

What can Robert De Niro teach you about writing? by @StartYourNovel

What can Robert De Niro teach you about writing?

 

0…
On Writing


by John Magnet Bell
@startyournovel

John Magnet Bell

Robert De Niro (b. 1943) is an American actor, director and producer. Claiming that the Muses love him is an understatement — he’s played so many iconic movie roles by now, I’m surprised Euripides hasn’t risen from the grave to crown De Niro in laurels. Did I get my tropes wrong? I don’t care.

De Niro in Raging Bull

De Niro in Raging Bull

There was Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull: a simmering, hammer-fisted ball of rage.

De Niro in Taxi Driver

De Niro in Taxi Driver

“You takin to me?”


The 
Taxi Driver, that least charming of rogues, speaking to secret fantasies of retribution.

De Niro in The Untouchables

De Niro in The Untouchables

De Niro’s portrayal of Al Capone is the definitive one, as far as I’m concerned.

Robert De Niro was born to Virginia Holton Admiral and Robert De Niro, Sr., two painters of cosmopolitan descent: Robert’s ancestry includes Albanian, Irish, English, German, French and Dutch forebears.

De Niro’s parents divorced when he was only 3, and he was raised by his mother in the Little Italy neighborhood of Manhattan and in Greenwich Village.

 

At school he was dubbed “Bobby Milk” on account of his skin tone. It was also at school that he would first tread the stage as the Cowardly Lion in a production of The Wizard of Oz. Bobby was a shy ten-year-old who had discovered the magic of acting.

 

One word would be enough to describe De Niro’s love affair with his calling – that word is devotion. He’s one of the few actors alive today with a real talent for metamorphosis. Travis Bickle, Sam Rothstein, Al Capone… “Bobby Milk” invested them with a kind of intensity that can only come from love. Love for the work.

 

De Niro is the ultimate chameleon actor, and in a way it’s a shame that he’s become so famous, because his celebrity status will now color any role he takes on.

 

Maybe in a few decades, when his star has dimmed somewhat, we can once again appreciate his performances without the specter of fame at the back our minds.

 

So, what can Robert De Niro teach you about writing a novel, story or play?

“I’ve never been one of those actors who has touted myself as a fascinating human being. I had to decide early on whether I was to be an actor or a personality.

Oscar Wilde once remarked that great poets led boring lives, whereas bad ones seemed to hop from one adventure to the next – true poetry lay in what they did, not what they wrote.

 

Writing is not the most engaging form of physical exertion I can think of. In fact it is rather monotonous, even if you develop eccentric strategies to help you cope.

 

Writing is where you separate the thinkers from the doers. You have to be mentally prepared to sit down for hours and put one word in front of the other and pound your sentences into shape. That’s what a thinker does – she subordinates physical expression to the demands of her mind.

 

A writer is under no obligation to be interesting or eccentric. Deep thinking, dedication in the long term, these are the traits I find essential.

 

You can cultivate your social persona and your writing, but one of the two is going to take a few hits, depending on your skills.

De Niro in Casino

De Niro in Casino

Ace: 

“Listen to me very carefully. There are three ways of doing things around here: the right way, the wrong way, and the way that *I* do it. You understand?”

“It’s important not to indicate. People don’t try to show their feelings, they try to hide them.

Greek actors wore masks on stage, as well as special shoes. Both mask and footwear had meaning, as tragic and comic actors put on different kinds.

 

The masks were stylized representations of human faces. For the most part, we don’t ask our actors to wear tangible masks anymore, but the principle is still there. They use their actual faces as masks.

 

You’re no different in daily life. Politeness is an act. Going up before a class and teaching is also an act. Any rational activity that makes you interact with other human beings forces you to develop self-control and represent your feelings. Not to mitigate or disown them, but to keep them out of the way.

 

So many writers struggle with dialogue because they don’t want the reader to feel left out of the conversation. That is a legitimate concern, but revealing too much through a character’s voice is a big risk. More often than not, your 33rd-degree Freemason assassin will sound like someone who can’t unzip his fly without help.

 

People hesitate and overthink. Momentous decisions are seldom matured overnight, and decisions that affect lives will be shared with restricted circles.

 

Don’t condescend to the reader. You’ll cripple the story, and ultimately their enjoyment.

DeNiro 5

“One of the things about acting is it allows you to live other people’s lives without having to pay the price.”

 

Creating a story, you leave your ties behind. Limitations that you observe in real life become fodder for brilliant prose. In the rich landscape of your mind, you can be Emperor of Ten Thousand Worlds or a deaf assassin. You can commit all the crimes you want against imaginary people and not worry about the police tracking you down.

 

When you don the writer’s mask, you’re excused from the obligations of your daily, outward self. You can turn loose the giant radioactive hedgehogs that populate your grimmest, grittiest nightmares.

 

You get to create lives and inhabit them. It’s like acting, with a major bonus: you don’t need to take any shit from directors. Ever.

###

More awesome by mad geniuses here on the GANG!

The Existential Triad in bioShock Infinite
One Red Shoe
With Music by @RussellBennetts & @Klassnik
What can Monty Python teach you about writing?



Flash fiction by John Magnet Bell:

A Prayer to the Coastal Winds
Stratospheric Beast
The Angels of Provenance
Parable of the Hungry Dark

About John Magnet Bell

John is a professional translator, writer and photographer. He writes about writing and he writes unconventional flashes of fiction at his website, Start Your Novel. Why? John explains his passion here.

Twitter: @StartYourNovel
Google+: JMBell
Tumblr: http://johnmagnetbell.tumblr.com/
Website: Start Your Novel

Please support John so that he can keep writing epic prompts! You can buy his shocking art at society6: http://society6.com/johnmagnetbell

Typhon by John Magnet Bell

Typhon by John Magnet Bell

 

Flash Fiction: Old Testament, Nevada by @StartYourNovel

Old Testament, Nevada


FlasFiction


by John Magnet Bell
@startyournovel

John Magnet Bell


There’s something about the desert at night that keeps the dog listening. She’s black against the silver sand of a clear night and sits on her haunches and sometimes essays a bark that dies in her throat.

“Toffee,” I whisper to my dog. I sit beside her. Be midnight soon.

Fila Brasileiro

Fila Brasileiro

###

More awesome by mad geniuses here on the GANG!

YOHTAI Issue No. 4 #Hearthstone
One Red Shoe
With Music by @RussellBennetts & @Klassnik0
What can Monty Python teach you about writing?



More flash fiction by John Magnet Bell:

A Prayer to the Coastal Winds
Stratospheric Beast
The Angels of Provenance
Parable of the Hungry Dark

About John Magnet Bell

John is a professional translator, writer and photographer. He writes about writing and he writes unconventional flashes of fiction at his website, Start Your Novel. Why? John explains his passion here.

Twitter: @StartYourNovel
Google+: JMBell
Tumblr: http://johnmagnetbell.tumblr.com/
Website: Start Your Novel

Please support John so that he can keep writing epic prompts! You can buy his shocking art at society6: http://society6.com/johnmagnetbell

Typhon by John Magnet Bell

Typhon by John Magnet Bell

What can Vincent van Gogh teach you about writing?

What can Vincent van Gogh teach you about writing?

 

0…
On Writing


by John Magnet Bell
@startyournovel

John Magnet Bell

Van Gogh's TARDIS by BBC

Van Gogh’s TARDIS by BBC

 

Van Gogh’s bright images wither in sunlight.

So if your bucket list includes traveling to Amsterdam and acquainting yourself with van Gogh’ssunflowers, you’d better go soon.

Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890) was a Dutch post-impressionist painter, born in Groot-Zundert, home to the oldest licensed tavern in the Netherlands, “In Den Anker.” Zundert lies 10 meters above sea level, which in Holland is something like high ground. And that was my extremely lame joke for the day. Sorry.

Now there’s a Vincent van Gogh Museum in Zundert, and a monument to Vincent and his brother Theo.

Early van Gogh is depressing as hell. None of the bright colors he became famous for, none of that rippling energy that makes the wheat fields and night skies shimmer with a million elven strokes of the spatula. What magic they contain is bleak, dour and disciplined.

Two Peasant Women Digging by Van Gogh

Two Peasant Women Digging by Van Gogh

Two Peasant Women Digging Potatoes is the work of an attentive observer but, if Vincent had stopped there, you wouldn’t be reading about him now.

Compare Two Peasant Women with this 1887 selfie,

Van Gogh's Selfie

Van Gogh’s Selfie

or Country Road in Provence by Night.

Country Road...

Country Road…

At some point, van Gogh decided to stop following History. Instead, he would make it happen.What’s more amazing is, some people are uniquely positioned to reinvent art — they’ve got it all, time and money and an education — yet they become imitators, what I call ‘advocates for normalcy.’ Van Gogh wasn’t among them. His connection to the world was fraught with misunderstanding and pain. He felt like an outsider, but that didn’t stop him: along with a dozen others, he tore at the carcass of academic painting to deliver the phoenix inside of it. They invented the twentieth century. In a way, they invented us as we are now.

So, what can Vincent van Gogh teach you about writing a novel, story, or play?

 

“It is good to love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is well done.”

 

Fight Club

I can’t conceive of a writer who isn’t intellectually voracious, perpetually dissatisfied with the gaps in their knowledge. Love is your window on the world, your starting point. People who hate shut themselves in. Why is it that ignorance and hatred go hand in hand?

Chuck Palahniuk had his character in Fight Club, Tyler Durden, say that we hold down jobs we hate to buy stuff we don’t need. Let’s not focus on the ‘stuff we don’t need’ right now. Instead, let’s think about what your work means to you. Does it make you think? Does it keep you growing and evolving as a person? Can you imagine what your life would be like if you held a different job? (Hint: if you answered yesyes, and no, you love what you do for a living.)

To be blunt about it, the kind of art that lasts demands commitment and more than commitment. It demands that you keep faith with the unspeakable weirdness inside of you. Popularity is no gauge for quality. Popular things lose their luster – how many huge hits from the 1930s are still around? I’m talking about 1930 and that wasn’t a century ago. Turn back the clock to the mid-1850s and you find that minstrel shows were the national art of their day. Do people still perform in blackface? No. Popular entertainment often expresses the worst[1] any culture has to offer, and that is why so many financially successful movies, books and songs fade from view after a while.

The crowd that feeds on the worst craves constant novelty and loathes History, Memory and Past.

Love entails vulnerability and openness. Also, that you be true to yourself. There’s no recipe for weird or unusual. It could be that you are entirely average or nondescript, but that too makes you a chimera of a human being. If you can love fiercely you have already separated yourself from the crowd.

Wheat Field with Crows

Wheat Field with Crows

“Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together.”

Maybe it was Samuel Johnson who said that you must go through an entire library in order to write a book. (Sounds like him, so let’s assume.)

Getting a body of work together takes time. Each little victory makes you stronger, makes you better. A painting is the result of ten thousand movements of the hand pointing in one direction. It’s no different than a novel, a TV show or a space program.

A little discipline goes a long way. If you force yourself to write that first line you’ll want to write a second, and who knows where that might lead. Beginnings are the hardest, because a mountain looks so much more imposing before you climb it. Why do you think people talk about ‘conquering’ the summit of a mountain? You’re not really going to war against a geological formation – it’s just a really big rock and it’s got nothing personal against you.[2]

When you get to the top, you see the landscape around you. Not the steps you took. Raw hands, scraped knees, llama poop… None of that matters anymore. You’ve reached the summit!

Look, your life’s work may take you a lifetime. (Such was the case with Marcel Proust.) I’m not going to tell you to focus on the future and screw the rest; you have bills to pay, your car needs parts, your children need wine[3], but take the long view. Only you know how long it takes to do work that matters.

Let your mind carry you to the deeps of your truest self. Vincent did:

 

“What am I in the eyes of most people — a nonentity, an eccentric, or an unpleasant person — somebody who has no position in society and will never have; in short, the lowest of the low. All right, then — even if that were absolutely true, then I should one day like to show by my work what such an eccentric, such a nobody, has in his heart. That is my ambition, based less on resentment than on love in spite of everything, based more on a feeling of serenity than on passion. Though I am often in the depths of misery, there is still calmness, pure harmony and music inside me. I see paintings or drawings in the poorest cottages, in the dirtiest corners. And my mind is driven towards these things with an irresistible momentum.”

FOOTNOTES

[1] Michael Bay, Uwe Boll, Lady Gaga, Madonna, Britney Spears, among others; I can’t think of a single writer to include in that pantheon – or pandemonium, as the case may be.

[2] I’d like to read a story someday where a mountain pursues a grim vendetta, chasing some poor sap all over the world. Hey, if the Final Destination movies can substitute DEATH for an actual slasher/psycho killer, why not a mountain. Just imagine the protagonist waking up to a mysterious rumbling and a marked commotion in the streets. He looks out the window and sees the mountain bearing down on Galveston, Texas, traversing the sea. And it’s coming for him.

[3] If you’re French and happen to live in the Simpsons universe.

Flash fiction by John Magnet Bell that you will find perfectly woody:


My Girlfriend’s Iron Petticoat
The Toll Booth Inside You
The Angels of Provenance

About John Magnet Bell

John is a professional translator, writer and photographer. He writes about writing and he writes unconventional flashes of fiction at his website, Start Your Novel. Why? John explains his passion here.

Twitter: @StartYourNovel
Google+: JMBell
Tumblr: http://johnmagnetbell.tumblr.com/
Website: Start Your Novel

Please support John so that he can keep writing epic prompts! You can buy his shocking art at society6: http://society6.com/johnmagnetbell

Salute The Morning, John Magnet Bell

Salute The Morning, John Magnet Bell

Paradise Encrypted by @StartYourNovel

Paradise Encrypted


FlasFiction


by John Magnet Bell
@startyournovel

John Magnet Bell

I fell asleep to the whistle and crack of far-off mortar fire, shivering under the standard-issue blanket. I fell asleep cursing the thermal implants that refused to warm me, but the wretched bastards on the other side of the wall had worse things to worry about.

###

 

More flash fiction by John Magnet Bell that you will find perfectly woody:


Polyester Sun

Stratospheric Beast
The Angels of Provenance

About John Magnet Bell

John is a professional translator, writer and photographer. He writes about writing and he writes unconventional flashes of fiction at his website, Start Your Novel. Why? John explains his passion here.

Twitter: @StartYourNovel
Google+: JMBell
Tumblr: http://johnmagnetbell.tumblr.com/
Website: Start Your Novel

Please support John so that he can keep writing epic prompts! You can buy his shocking art at society6: http://society6.com/johnmagnetbell

Krag Tee Shirt by @StartYourNovel

Krag Tee Shirt by @StartYourNovel

Do you have an awesome story to share with us? Join the ranks of mad geniuses that make Geeky Antics rock. Email your proposal to stan.faryna@gmail.com

Everything You Do Is A Snowball by @StartYourNovel

Everything You Do Is A Snowball


Flash Fiction


by John Magnet Bell
@startyournovel

John Magnet Bell

I must shield my true purpose – the cops must not capture the data stored in my elbow. Oh! Not the data in my elbow. Wait… Those women in the orange truck! They are cops. I can smell it. I take shoes off and pad over the snow. Surprise!

###

Inspiration

Have a look at the news item that inspired the prompt:
Half-dressed woman attacks vehicle on I-5

Certain drugs can trigger psychosis. Yet others can trigger schizophrenia in susceptible people.

What are the symptoms of a psychotic break?


From Wikipedia:

Symptoms of psychotic breaks vary greatly, usually depending on the circumstances of diagnosis or any contributory substance ingested. Symptoms can range from harmless, sometimes unnoticed delusions, to violent outbursts and major depression.
Where a bipolar disorder is involved, cryinggrandiosityinsomniairritability, andpersecutory delusions may all or severally manifest themselves as symptoms. (Emphases mine.)

What are the most common schizophrenic delusions?


From Helpguide.org:

◊ Delusions of persecution – Belief that others, often a vague “they,” are out to get him or her. These persecutory delusions often involve bizarre ideas and plots (e.g. “Martians are trying to poison me with radioactive particles delivered through my tap water”).

◊ Delusions of reference – A neutral environmental event is believed to have a special and personal meaning. For example, a person with schizophrenia might believe a billboard or a person on TV is sending a message meant specifically for them.

◊ Delusions of grandeur – Belief that one is a famous or important figure, such as Jesus Christ or Napoleon. Alternately, delusions of grandeur may involve the belief that one has unusual powers that no one else has (e.g. the ability to fly).

◊ Delusions of control – Belief that one’s thoughts or actions are being controlled by outside, alien forces. Common delusions of control include thought broadcasting (“My private thoughts are being transmitted to others”), thought insertion (“Someone is planting thoughts in my head”), and thought withdrawal (“The CIA is robbing me of my thoughts”).

 

Imagination

 

I also imagined the half-dressed woman character as a film director with a predilection for obscure Japanese films and comics. What follows is an interpretive list of the films/comics/TV shows she would enjoy in her spare time, because I truly have no idea what any of these things are —

In which a silver-clad weirdo ruins a wonderful birthday party by setting the birthday ogre on fire and chopping her friends to pieces.

In which a woman returns home from work and finds her grandfather hosting gladiatorial tournaments on his tongue, instead of making dinner as he promised.
In which the heroic Graublar Shoggis III drives off grotesque little invaders from his home planet — for they only have two nostrils and wear red pants, both of which are anathema to the Mighty Goddess Barzulax.

Other posts by John Magnet Bell that you will find perfectly woody:

Captain Chunkypants

Stratospheric Beast

The Last Edwardian Stylite

 

About John Magnet Bell

John is a professional translator, writer and photographer. He writes about writing and he writes unconventional flashes of fiction at his website, Start Your Novel. Why? John explains his passion here.

Twitter: @StartYourNovel
Google+: JMBell
Tumblr: http://johnmagnetbell.tumblr.com/
Website: Start Your Novel

Please support John so that he can keep writing epic prompts! You can buy his shocking art at society6: http://society6.com/johnmagnetbell

Krag Tee Shirt by @StartYourNovel

Krag Tee Shirt by @StartYourNovel

Do you have an awesome story to share with us? Join the ranks of mad geniuses that make Geeky Antics rock. Email your proposal to stan.faryna@gmail.com

 

What can Monty Python teach you about writing? by John Magnet Bell

What can Monty Python teach you about writing?

by John Magnet Bell
@startyournovel

John Magnet Bell

Monty Python’s Flying Circus was an educational TV program which ran on BBC TV from 1969 to 1974. Forty-five episodes were broadcast in Britain, and two additional ones in Germany, where spectators needed a supplementary dose of education.

 

Monty Python Flying Circus

 

The Flying Circus was the brainchild of a select group of Oxbridge-educated psychologists, podiatrists (or is that pediatricians? I always forget which is which), barristers and architects. It may surprise you to know that the concept for the program was originally suggested by Eric Idle’s great-grandfather, an indirect descendant of William Shakespeare and the first man in Britain to report an encounter with a bar of soap.

This would surprise you because it is mostly not true.

 

In fact Monty Python owe their existence to the patronage of a Dutch-Slovenian aristocrat, Baron Von Took, who brought the troupe into the main BBC building one day thinking they would make good pets.

 

monty-python-shaven apes

Things got out of hand when a shortsighted production assistant mistook the six shaven apes for human beings and put them in front of a camera. Terror & hilarity ensued as the Pythons ran amuck all over the BBC, stealing people’s lunches, putting on dresses and pretending to be actors. It’s recently come to light that at least four and a half of them were old lady pensioners from Crawley.

The head of the BBC came up with a revolutionary notion: “Let’s tell people that this debacle wasintentional. We’re, uh, experimenting — Yes! Now there’s a word that captures the zeitgeist — Hodgkins, are you getting all of this? Good. — So, we’re experimenting with a new format, something no-one’s ever tried before. Gentlemen,” said the topmost Top Executive of the BBC, smacking his fist on the table, “we can turn this around. Fear not the wrath of the House of Lords. I’m going to put such a spin on this disaster, it’ll make the Second Coming look like two mentally-handicapped children trying to light their beefers on fire.”

So, what can Monty Python teach you about writing a novel, story or play?

 

Not much, admittedly, but keep reading to find out.

 

 

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will make me go in a corner and cry by myself for hours.

Eric Idle

 

Eric Idle

A Younger Eric Idle

 

There are two kinds of violence — physical and psychological.

Messing with someone’s mind causes lasting trauma, and the deepest scars are the ones you can’t see.

Combine physical abuse with mind games and you turn people into wild animals. Nothing dehumanizes a character and damages their core like a bunch of lies and broken promises.

Human relationships are built on trust and survive on fulfilled expectations. Consistent language and behavior are the glue that holds the trust network together.

A character that promises one thing and delivers another (the typical shapeshifter/betrayer) uses language to hurt and deceive. Whoever promises one thing and delivers on that promise — or dies trying — can rightly be called a hero.

We don’t think about it on a daily basis, but ‘heroes’ and ‘villains’ use language in very different ways.

 

 

 

Every age sort of has its own history. History is really the stories that we retell to ourselves to make them relevant to every age. So we put our own values and our own spin on it.

Terry Jones

 

Wafer Thin

Wafer Thin

 

Values change: your Shakespeare is not Orson Welles’s, though there may be points of contact. We don’t read Greek tragedy the way ancient Greeks did, so it would be pointless to try and resurrect that superannuated form.

It is because human values aren’t eternal that we no longer fling people off the Tarpeian Rock for the crime of perjury.

As values change, so does our understanding of History and, consequentially, our understanding of fiction. 

 

 

 

I think you learn a lot about a country from its art. To me, it’s part of the drama of life. It teaches you that there are places, moments and incidents in other cultures that genuinely have a life of their own.

Michael Pallin

 

Younger Michael Pallin

Younger Michael Pallin

 

Nothing brings a fictional world to life with more efficacy than a sudden glance at a painting, or two characters sharing a prayer, maybe invoking the name of a god.

Every human culture has proverbs, art, food — because every culture has a past. A country’s history underlies that country’s present woes, as no society exists in a vacuum.

In real life, the inhabitants of the bottled city of Kandor wouldn’t stay sane for very long.

 

Art is the place where collective meets individual expression and, as such, has the potential to weave many a silent thread into your story, to cast a transient light on the deep well of memory that a fictive society draws from.

 

 

 

For me, the great problem growing up in England was that I had a very narrow concept of what God can be, and it was damn close to an old man with a beard.

John Cleese

 

Younger John Cleese

Younger John Cleese

 

Cultures are self-reinforcing mechanisms, at least while the economy that sustains them is vital and capable of adaptive growth.

Nothing destroys a culture over the long term the way abuse of authority and widespread corruption do.

 

You see, poverty is no friend to diversity. The poorer you are, the fewer resources you can allocate. Keeping up with novelty becomes harder and harder until you cross a threshold where anything new, any innovation, be it technological or social, is something of a threat.

When a paranoid mindset takes over a human group, the group will either break up to allow for cultural renewal or slowly wither and die. It goes without saying that hypervigilance is a cancer, and fear makes for a monotonous backdrop.

 

 

 

I got my head bashed in at a demonstration against the Vietnam War. Police were losing control because they were up against a world they really didn’t understand.

Terry Gilliam

 

Terry Gilliam

Terry Gilliam (almost)

 

Drama needs tension.

No tension, no story.

 

Generational conflict is inexhaustible. The old want stability, the young want change. What happens when an irresistible force collides with an immovable object? Stuff goes BOOM.

Out of that boom, that chaos, comes new order. Call it ‘creative destruction’ if you like.

If you have people with clearly defined, opposing goals, you have the makings of a good story.

 

 

 

It’s nice to see that look of alarm on the faces of the others.

Graham Chapman

 

Younger Graham Chapman

Younger Graham Chapman

 

Chapman was the odd one out. He wasn’t there for the writing sessions — he would simply show up for rehearsals and recording sessions, often drunk.7

OK, he wasn’t the poster boy for a healthy lifestyle, but the other Pythons looked up to him. Chapman was a gifted, versatile actor who could imbue silly characters with unexpected pathos. Chapman’s Arthur in Quest for the Holy Grail will always be my favorite incarnation of the character. To the best of my knowledge, he was the only King Arthur to run away from a white bunny. (Granted, that bunny was dynamite.)

At Chapman’s funeral service, John Cleese gave his friend a rather tongue-in-cheek sendoff as, he explained, Chapman would have wanted him to shock people on his behalf.

All this to say that there’s some value in shocking people, especially if you mean something by it. Real shock is when you feel the blood freezing in your veins, when something disgusts you so deeply, and so deeply disturbs your sense of justice, that you rebel against it with your whole self, your whole body and being. Shock is opportunity.

Many writers, not a few of the Tinseltown variety, betray their narrowness of mind and poor education when they substitute potty humor for actual provocation.

 

Comedy works best when it challenges prejudice, not when it indulges a fixation on bodily fluids.

 

Other posts by John Magnet Bell that you will find perfectly woody:

Woody Allen
Mel Brooks
John Cleese

 

About John Magnet Bell

John is a professional translator, writer and photographer. He writes about writing and he writes unconventional flashes of fiction at his website, Start Your Novel. Why? John explains his passion here.

Twitter: @StartYourNovel
Google+: JMBell
Tumblr: http://johnmagnetbell.tumblr.com/
Website: Start Your Novel

Please support John so that he can keep writing epic prompts! You can buy his shocking art at society6: http://society6.com/johnmagnetbell

 

John Magnet Bell Surtur

John Magnet Bell, Surtur