NVDT #63 – Let’s Eat Children


The Prompt – Halloween/Fall is coming, do you celebrate? What does that look like? Is it different this year?

Mondays. Ordinarily, I’d post something related to the writer’s blog hop. This week it’s more Social Media than anything to do with improving craft. A good thing, probably. As me being me, I’ve already pissed off everybody in there twice. Once for “Let’s stop marketing to each other and discuss/show and tell something we might use for craft development” and last week for the whole dialogue issue that involved some “If you’re really paying an editor for semi-colons to string this much superfluous and roundabout content you need to ask for a refund”. Because I want to get better, not sign off on bunk with my name on it, and want everyone else to come along. 

That activity also brought out a week’s worth of sweeping generalizations based on opinion. From dialogue wasn’t a best form of communication to no one remembers characters or dialog, they remember the action. When presented with sweeping generalizations like that my first response is “WTF?” I thought style and usage choices were personal preferences, dictated by the material and the target, not right or wrong. Nowhere did I posit that “dialogue rules!” except for me, and I can, in most instances, use it to convey almost anything that needs conveyance. When I run a scene through the characters, it cuts way down on the set decoration and head time clutter temptations. I don’t have time for that because people are talking.

Dialogue has advantages in certain storytelling styles. End of sentence. I would never use it in How I Spent 47 Days Alone in a Life Raft (other than to show the person going mad). Or business communication. Or owner’s/operation manuals, how to columns, certain advertising copy. Every story has a voice, no one way is “best” except what works for the story. I even posted several examples of talky chit chat to pared down to the bone dialogue for technique exercise, tone adjustments. No one bothers to read that shit, nobody wants to discuss, or ask, or offer, so why bother? The good news is we can learn from anyone. Even those who believe their cheese is the whole enchilada and ours is but a poor stepchild.

Enough on that. I am extricating myself from the opinion game as regards any specific target and will continue to post generic (personal) Writerly Concerns only. Which no one will read. (Insert applause here). So far as trying any longer to make the world a safe place for logical, well-constructed, well edited lit on a budget? Fuck. That.

Here’s the Social Media bit–But first, a writerly concern. This is truly a “punctuation matters” holiday.

Let’s eat children!

Let’s eat, children!

And, God knows I tried but I can’t help myself,

Lets eat; Children!

Halloween is around the corner. Not this year. I don’t want them at my door, even with two masks on, and I doubt I’ll put a bucket of candy on the porch for the first two kids to snag it all. If there’s even two kids. Back before razor blades and poison and LSD, back in the Norman Rockwell Halloween days, it was fun and innocent, and certainly sparked a surge in visits to the dentist. Halloween also turned normal, reasonably well-adjusted kids into borderline juvenile delinquents for an evening.  Yes, I know that as fact. But Halloween has devolved into safe harbor handout locations (not a bad idea), slumber parties with scary movies, bags of candy we shouldn’t eat but do. The last time we had trick or treaters has been several years. I have several unprintable reasons on hand for that. However, the year we lived in McAllen, down on the border? None of that lights out by nine stuff. Fireworks and trick or treaters until midnight. At least that’s when we shut it down, climbed out on the roof for more fireworks than the Fourth of July.

As for fall, this is Texas. We have four seasons. Late Spring, Summer, Summer, Christmas, and back to late spring. So right about now I can ease up on mowing the yard every week. When my leaves get too deep I’ll blow them into the neighbor’s yard. No harm done, they’ll just blow back again. I really miss my pin oaks from Austin, but not the leaves… This part of the world just gets brown in the fall/winter. A rare snowstorm might turn everything into a postcard for 24 hours, tops. Pumpkin pie, Trader Joe’s spice cake and peppermint coffee. That’s how I know the season changed. 

Stay safe, UV radiate your store bought bag of Reese’s, don’t accept candy from strangers. There’s a real Duh moment. We teach children not to accept candy or gifts from strangers. From the cradle onward. Yet what did we used to do on Halloween but give that advice the night off? Maybe little Johnny didn’t have ADD. Maybe his Pixie Stix from the weirdo on the corner were liberally treated with LSD. That would explain a lot… 


Published by

Phil Huston


17 thoughts on “NVDT #63 – Let’s Eat Children”

  1. I read ’em.

    “I am extricating myself from the opinion game as regards any specific target” We’ll see how long that lasts… (jab, jab).

    ,been reading up on EL. All his western stuff and stories made into movies so early on in his career, pretty astonishing. “Complete collection of Western Stories” has a brief intro of his life. Seems like he had the right stuff straight out-a-the-gate.

    On dialog: it’s the all-important glue, we decided. It’s *why* scenes, characters and events are memorable. Dialog hooks our emotions and forces us to invest brain cycles to imagining the story. It’s the blending of our sociality and overly-sized visual cortex that mixes to create memories.

    (And yeah, this is all bullshit, strong opinions spewed from the mouth of a neophyte, but so what? Softly couched suggestions get ignored. So, why not blast at full volume?)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Softly couched suggestions get ignored. So, why not blast at full volume?
      Here’s a truism via experience. I can write minimal scene into a dialog experience and get told how the scene stood out. Why? I surmise that when scene appears to be experienced by the characters, less is more. That’s an Elmore-ism. No, we walked up to a house that looked like this or a lake or whatever and then here’s the cast, but the cast experiencing the environment.
      Dialog hooks our emotions and forces us to invest brain cycles to imagining the story. – Exactly. Depending on the story.
      Yeah, all the pretty cover and shit for content people can carry their own water. Even you repeat technique offenders who backslide. My shit sucks, too, and I need to go fix that so I can shop for a pretty cover with my name on it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. We used to live in a neighborhood that didn’t get a lot of trick or treaters and our house was small and at the end of a long drive and right next door to some folks who were conducting pagan Samhain rites, so it made sense we got no trick or treaters. I think what parents there were who brought their kids around in that neighborhood thought we were the garage of the pagans and scuttled on past hoping our neighbors didn’t eat their children.

    Now we live in a very residential neighborhood where, we discovered the first year we moved here, our neighbors from the old neighborhood bring their children for trick and treating. Thankfully not the pagans. In this neighborhood, people put 20-foot blowup illuminated zombies on their lawns. And, yes, we expect we’ll get some kids because our local governments have no authority over private behavior and Alaskans don’t let things like cold weather or novel cold viruses stop us from doing stuff. Case numbers here are increasing (probably due to testing more than actual increased infections), but hospitalizations and deaths are extremely low and so, we’re just going to plan for ghouls. Most years we don’t, but the church’s Fall Festival was canceled by the liability insurance, so we will be home and we plan to buy candy we like so it won’t be wasted if our prediction is off the mark.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. PayDays! I buy the little ones by the bag full. The best dialog I ever scavenged was my 7 year old granddaughter explaining a PayDay to her friend who’d never eaten one. Priceless. Snickers, yes. But I’m an absolute junkie for white chocolate Reese’s. And I’ll go through Ghirardelli milk choc and caramel in no more time than it takes for them to melt in my mouth…


  3. When I was a kid, the neighbors knew which were the neighborhood kids and which came from somewhere else. (We lived out in the country, so it wasn’t that hard to figure out!) Anyway, we got the good stuff- full size candy bars, homemade popcorn balls, etc., and the out of area kids got the cheap treats!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Depends on how well you stave off the offlanders and their customs! I never heard of Dios de los muertos until I was an adult. Even living on the border back in the 90s gringo Halloween was the holiday. Now I have candy bowls with decorated skulls on them. I don;t know if that’s an improvement over plain old skulls or not…

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I really liked your post with the story pared down to nearly all dialogue. In my humble little opinion, voice makes or breaks the impact of a story, where it’s all dialogue or pages of introspection. You can have a thrilling plot, but if the characters all sound the same, who really remembers it?

    Liked by 1 person

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