So, I’m really good at technical writing. Even my worst nightmare of a boss gave me one complement and it was that I’m a good writer.
This likely happened because I didn’t learn much about writing in school. I even took Drama class my senior year to get out of English. “Double double toil and trouble” was far more interesting than endless spelling tests. And I do know some big words like penultimate and defenestrate (thanks for that one Mr. Farrell) but prefer to communicate using more simple language. I’m not saying this wasn’t taught in school. I vaguely remember things like dialogue starts new paragraphs but I see writers doing other things. Which brings me to my point. Yeah that was a sentence fragment or something. The biggest thing I learned in college with my Photo Tech degree is you learn the rules so you know when and how to break them to create something beautiful.
My poetry when it rhymes is usually written with rap in the back of my mind and maybe that’s because I learned more about poetry from rap, especially MC Lars, than school. Fuck, I even know what an anapest is – three syllables, two unstressed stressed, words like Halloween, tambourine, limousine, unforeseen, tangerine, figurine, and I guess listing more words isn’t going to make me think of one that doesn’t rhyme. Too bad “anapest” isn’t an anapest. That would be cool, right?
So, more than one person has suggested writing a book about Kenny. I have been using this blog to experiment and my last post about Damien had two goals: to scare the shit out of the reader and to show not tell. Well I think I accomplished the first goal and it ended up being like second grade again… I ended up with show and tell. I’ve also been playing with moving from narrative style to more of what I see when I’m reading.
I really don’t know what I am doing but fortunately I’ve already done quite a bit of character development for Kenny by putting him on Facebook and making people talk to the dog, not me. He is a bit of a smartass (he had the best “fuck you” look that conveyed both understanding and intent to disobey) and is very smart but hears words he doesn’t understand as different words that he does understand and gets confused about things like why it takes so long to buy a yard (not a house mind you) when everything at the pet store you just bring to the cash register. I really tried to bring his personality to life along with things a dog who could talk might not quite understand.
I finally wrote something. This occurred late in his life and started as a comment in Ksenia Anske’s blog about a couple posts, on writing descriptions and what a character wants or something came together to be really helpful and yeah of course Kenny wants the steak HE’S A DOG! And I tried to show his desire. Ksenia has been a big champion of the Kenny book and you should check out her blog http://www.kseniaanske.com/
This may be over the top. The background is Kenny is 14 years old, just spent 5 years in an apartment (a new experience for him) and is visiting his new yard for the second time, one of many visits. He had been given table scraps until we nearly lost him to illness and was then put on a special diet that sucked all around. But I wrote something!
I don’t really know how to separate out the character’s thoughts and actions or switch between characters (doesn’t apply here) or where to break paragraphs and that stuff. If you know what you’re doing or think you know something that might help please let me know how this could be improved or done differently. I don’t think quite this much detail would be in this in a book but I was really going for showing what Kenny wants without explicitly stating it and his mind does wander a bit. He’s about to move and the apartment would have been described earlier in the book and not need repeating unless I started the book near the end and moved to the beginning of his life.
So, here it is, too much detail in one scene for me but it’s what I wrote. Please let me know your thoughts.
The wonderful smells wafting from that black thing where the humans insisted on storing their meat before eating it both delighted Kenny’s nose and tortured his stomach. Kenny’s tail wagged with a mind of its own as he contemplated the delicious treat he would get, but only after the eternal wait while the humans ate their portion. Why did he have to be the last one all the time? And the rules! He was allowed to beg but he couldn’t beg properly or he risked banishment into that big structure obstructing a large part of his yard. He had to stay a good distance away from the humans if he wanted to stare at them or lay quietly under what was called the table. Humans just do NOT understand proper begging. A single string of drool emerged from Kenny’s mouth as he watched Daddy carry the cow meat to the table. Kenny glanced back at his tail, which was now swinging from side to side so fast it was a blur. Kenny’s stomach growled. For the last few years, the only thing he was given to eat was bland, boring cereal, ever since he got sick and had to stay at the vet for a few days. He was forced to watch as the humans ate wonderful food that smelled delicious but they never shared. Mommy and Daddy seemed sad when they finished eating, until now. This was Kenny’s second visit to his new yard and last time he got people food. As he casually sauntered over to take up his spot under the table, Kenny contemplated all the friends he had in his previous home. It was a weird place with no yard, a ton of families and a lot of doors he couldn’t go in. There were several such structures bunched together and he met all the dogs living there during walkies, which happened three times a day, much more than the rest of his life when he had his own yard. He wasn’t sure who he would miss the most. Chauncy still played with him even though he was getting older but Romeo lived upstairs and was the sneakiest cat he ever met. Kenny tried to appear casual as he pushed those thoughts aside and faced away from where Mommy sat last time and carefully laid down under the table. His tastebuds danced with delight in anticipation as he watched all the humans come out of the structure with various items of food to go with the cow. Kenny savored the scent of each ingredient and then let them all mingle together as he sniffed the air. The ecstasy of the moment was broken by the boots that appeared in front of Kenny’s eyes. Aww crap that’s Mommy. Why did she change seats? She is SO annoying and, wait what was that bump on my head? Kenny looked around and tilted his head as he found himself next to the table with his head under Mommy’s elbow. Oh no. How did this happen? Worse, how did it fail? The classic elbow bump is supposed to produce food on the ground and Mommy was eating some of that delicious cow. Kenny braced himself for what was coming next. Mommy never just told him to go lie down like everyone else. This time it was the bear hug. Inwardly, Kenny groaned as Mommy put her arms around him and held him tight with his nose right next to her food but just out of reach and held on way too long. This must be animal abuse or something. In any case it’s just not right. Kenny could practically taste the cow that was just inches from his nose and forced himself to endure this cruel punishment for an eternity before trying to squirm his way out of Mommy’s grip. Finally she let go and Kenny quickly went back under the table. He knew he would be forgiven for just one elbow bump after going so long without anything good to eat. Kenny didn’t even get good treats after he got sick, just that awful cereal. It was always there if he ever got hungry enough to eat it but this was his new yard! He still didn’t understand why he only got to visit instead of staying there all the time but this was better than just looking at it from the car. Still unsure just how that elbow bump happened, Kenny focused on just lounging under the table. When Kenny finally heard someone call his name, it was like the NY Philharmonic had played an entire piece dedicated to him. The voice was Daddy’s and there was a little piece of that cow in Daddy’s hand held down under the table.