A great story! Robert Service wrote a wonderful poem about people like that.

"There's a race of men that don't fit in,

A race that can't stay still;

So they break the hearts of kith and kin,

And they roam the world at will.

They range the field and they rove the flood,

And they climb the mountain's crest;

Theirs is the curse of the gypsy blood,

And they don't know how to rest..."

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Love your style of prose.

Reading this vignette, I drink in the narrative like sweet vanilla and caramel pouring down my throat, a cold milkshake savored at the end of a long week's labors.

There's something so beautiful about your writing, which I have been struggling to identify for years now. I'm reminded of Ray Bradbury and Hemingway when I read your work... simply the effect your passages have on the audience. But these are very imprecise comparisons, fumbling and groping in the dark.

Recently I reread "Heroes Rise//Monsters Fall" and "Our Private Kingdom" in an attempt to figure out what I admire so much about your stories, and to try to imitate these skills and incorporate them into my own work.

I think what's so beautiful about your work is that you combine several well-honed skills into an amazing arsenal which hits the readers with astonishing force.

Your stories are confident and sensual; sophisticated and primal; they tap into the most elegant forms of art, dance, music, the heights of civilization, in order to tell stories about very basic and animalistic passions... sex, war, religion, everything that is the core of existence, the adversarial extremes which give meaning and purpose to life. But all of these subjects become shrouded in taboos, they are seen as dirty and unclean and vulgar and lowbrow, because at the core of these subjects (sex, war, religion) is a fundamental competition to be triumphant.

And the flipside of competition is failure, rejection, and the shame of inadequacy. Sexual Rejection... Military Defeat... Religious Prohibitions and the Divine Judgment of God.

Anyway, it's quite beautiful.

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Here, this is a gorgeous paragraph:

"There was an American soldier who had been deployed so often to Iraq he had taught himself Arabic and loved Baghdad as a lover. When the sun began its red descent and the birds chirped their chorus in the cool of the evening he would smoke a cigarette on the roof of the bombed out ministry building and regard her veiled in dust, the daughter of Babylon, bangled in lights from the windows of shabby high rises and the softer glow of orange street lights that were just beginning to come on. How lovely she was, with her scent of danger and the promise of battle in those labyrinthine streets."

The imagery is amazing, and you switch between straightforward descriptions and poetic, evocative phrases such as "red descent", "veiled in dust", "scent of danger", "promise of battle". But there are a lot of verbs in this paragraph, so the action feels very kinetic, and the pacing is swift and efficient. You don't ever slow the story — the dramatic momentum remains breathtaking.

Another good example of your style is this next paragraph:

"On patrol he was legendary. He had a sixth sense for pathfinding. He could not be denied by any obstacle of the narrow city streets: shifting barricades, low wires, clogged traffic; all melted before him. The crack of gunfire was his stimulant, in those heated moments he grew to be ten feet tall, acquiring the aura of a much taller man, and it was many times that his power of decision saved the day."

You express the whole point of the paragraph in the first sentence, when you say that the soldier was legendary. But then the subsequent sentences are an elaboration and recapitulation of the same point. This technique reminds me of a sonata or a symphony, where the core melody is established in a simplified form, then later repeated in more complex, slightly altered variations.

You just sort of play with the idea, exploring the various aspects of his prowess as a soldier.


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Thank you for your generous praise my friend. This is helpful to me because I want to also explore new techniques. So as you point them out to me, I'll look to refine them or better yet discard them in future writings, if only for the sake of practice. I've got to be pushing the boundaries of technique, always.

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I would say that as you publish more works and present a larger sample size, I have more data points to study and your idiosyncratic patterns begin to emerge. Specifically your cadence: the rhythm of how your sentences and paragraphs flow into scenes, and your prosody: the word choice that you select.

One thing that I admire most is your pacing, which is excellent and shouldn't change at all.

You do a really good job of giving the audience the bare minimum they need, and then moving on as soon as your point has been delivered.

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There's a great essay by artist Dave Gibbons at the beginning of the 2019 commemorative edition of Watchmen, where he talks about the decision to either reveal implicit or explicit information.

I would say this is what you are currently doing beautifully Paulos MythPilot, and this is an area where I'm studying and learning from you. Your pacing gives just enough to the audience to satisfy, the brief suggestion of a kiss, a touch, a glimpse, then moves on.

The advice "show don't tell" comes from Anton Chekhov.

Anton Chekhov wrote in a letter to a friend, ""Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass."

(his actual comment was much longer and inefficient, but I prefer the popular version)

But anyway, I wanted to share with you a sample of the essay from Dave Gibbons:

"More than any other, the comic book medium is founded on the evocative glimpse. Indeed, the very fabric, the mechanism, of comics is essentially a series of statis snapshot panels magically given continuity by the reader's attention.

The cover of a comic is typically a tight little promise of pleasure, crafted to lure the eye, excite the curiosity, and, that done, hook the reader into buying. Once inside the comic, the true fan needs but a few panels depicting some prior continuity or an incarnation of a character published decades earlier to open up vast suggested histories of wonder.

Such is the power of the glimpse, the magpie lure of a promising hint.

Often, in their actual content, comics would show these promises to be lies. But sometimes, just sometimes, they would prove to be truly memorable fictional realities. Such a thing was possible for comics; such a thing could be aspired to.

The particular qualities of the form aside, there is nothing that fundamentally separates comics from other storytelling media. The same considerations, essential to a satisfying narrative, apply here as elsewhere in the realms of fiction.

Whether tales are told by the light of the campfire or by the glow of a screen, the prime decision for the teller has always been what to reveal and what to withhold. Whether in words alone or with images, the narrator must be clear about what is to be shown and what is to be hidden.

Relating the entirety of experience is too full, too unmediated and sprawling to appeal, too much like the mundane existence it approximates. It is for the storyteller to offer the tantalizing glimpse and for the audience to supply the closure which it suggests."

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deletedApr 4, 2023Liked by Paulos
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Thanks for that, Paulos. Tough and true. How are you doing?

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Life is good my friend. I hope this spring finds you well.

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You had me till the end.

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I get together with my old platoon guys about every two years, reminiscing on almost identical scenarios.

Love this!

So true, coming together is as easy dipping into a warm pool.

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You had me till the end.

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