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Journal: 125 posts and nobody's called Godwin yet. 4

Journal by BarbaraHudson
Here's my first post

The stripping of citizenship for dual nationals will be popular as all heck, and its popularity has nothing to do with the current round of terrorism. Look how long it took to remove the citizenship of former Nazis hiding under new identities.

Ususally someone screams "Godwin" within minutes ... strange. Must be the topic bringing out the worst in people.

User Journal

Journal: I hate firefox updates that break stuff 13

Journal by BarbaraHudson

Every time I tried to access a subdomain by clicking on a story (yro.slashdot.org, science.slashdot.org, etc), I would be logged out. Returning to the main page, I'm logged in again. Surprise, surprise, it doesn't happen in Chrome. So I guess that's it for me. Google has just managed to make me switch.

User Journal

Journal: Hey, I was wrong! Isn't that great??? 8

Journal by BarbaraHudson

This year is not even 2 days old, and things are happening.

On December 15th, I wrote my Year in Review, in which I detailed the good, bad, and ugly things that had happened over the last year. I found out yesterday that I was wrong about failing to stop the Co-op developer.

One of my neighbours gave a lift to two people, one who is a former worker there, and the other who still works there. Seems I'm notorious around their offices. It turns out that by my delaying part of their work for more than 6 months, they couldn't get the progress payments from the bank that was lending them the money as a bridge loan. No money, contractor stops work, the monthly fixed costs still have to be paid ... so they're basically broke, and looking for a way out.

Turns out that I didn't need the cooperation of the people on the other side of the street to continue the resistance. So, one person can make a difference! Woot!

On another note, I don't like facebook. I've created accounts there several times, and abandoned them. The interface is clunky, there's not much in the way of serious (or even non-serious) debate - heck, even a good troll once in a while would be comic relief!

But I made another new account a while back (lost the old accounts' password), and after fooling around with it, ignored it.

Until New Years Eve. I had friended a few people, and facebook had suggested a few others, and I friended a few of them. My half-sister, who I've only seen once for maybe 15 seconds, is one of them. I really didn't know just how to approach her, but I wished her a Happy New Year, she returned the greeting, and we got to chatting. So now I have 6 sisters, not 5. Wow. Just ... wow!

I still think the design of facebook sucks, but for me, this kind of makes up for a lot of the suckage.

I hope your year is starting off as good as mine!

User Journal

Journal: Out with the old, in with the new. Happy New Year! 9

Journal by BarbaraHudson

It's that time of year again. Look at the past year, and figure out what we're going to do in the new year ... also called "New Years Resolutions" ... also called "Lying To Yourself" :-)

1) Lose that weight I put on since going on antidepressants.

2) Get back to my writing once the effects of the last depression are gone.

3) Not be so much of a stickler for details / pedantic.

That's enough for one year. It might not sound like much, but these last few years, and especially this last one, took a lot out of me. I'm hoping that 2015 will be a time of healing and optimism.

And for everyone else ...

Whether this has been a bad year or a good year, I hope that this time next year you'll be able to say 2015 was a good year, a better year, a kinder year. Happy New Year, gang!

User Journal

Journal: Another reason not to trust H.R. consultants 2

Journal by BarbaraHudson

Another reason not to trust H.R. consultants - as if anyone needs one.

The lawyer representing an Orleans human resources consultant charged with attempted murder in an attack on a 101-year-old veteran says she will consider asking the court for a referral to a psychiatrist.

Police would not confirm the name of the man charged but in a news release said they had arrested a 59-year-old man on Friday and charged him with attempted murder, robbery with violence, forcible confinement, break and enter and two counts of using a credit card obtained by crime.

The arrest drew a commendation from Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Police say a man broke into the New Edinburgh apartment of Ernest CÃté, retired colonel and Second World War veteran, on Thursday morning after pretending to be a City of Ottawa employee. The man tied up CÃté, placed a plastic bag over his head and robbed him. CÃté was able to free himself and call 911.

Is this a targeted hate crime?

On Remembrance Day, Bushâ(TM)s account tweeted an angry response to a Globe and Mail reporter who noted that people had shouted "thank-you" as a group of veterans marched by.

"Thank-you? For what???" the tweet said. When someone else responded that thanks were deserved for protecting the countryâ(TM)s freedoms, Bushâ(TM)s account replied, "What nonsense you spew. What freedoms? Spell them out! You believe the propaganda like a little Nazi."

User Journal

Journal: Looks like we're getting closer to the truth 4

Journal by BarbaraHudson

Two interesting submissions from the firehose:

Woman game developer may have never "fled her home"

Previously unknown indie game developer Brianna Wu made international news, including on the green [slashdot.org], after claiming on October 11 that threats from the Gamergate movement had forced her to flee her home. As one report briefly mentioned, at that time Wu was on a planned trip to New York where she was scheduled to speak at Comic-Con. Later news interviews placed Wu at her home as they reported that she had fled from it, raising the question of whether she had ever been forced to flee her home at all.

As has come to be usual for any news on this subject, Medium administrators deleted an article that had provided additional evidence that Wu's secret media interview location was in fact her own home from which she had never fled."

and

FBI confirms open investigation into Gamergate

v3rgEz (125380) writes

"In a terse form letter responding to a FOIA request, the FBI has confirmed it has an open investigation into Gamergate, the loose but controversial coalition of gamers calling for ethics in gaming journalism â" even as some members have harassed and sent death threats to female gaming developers and critics"

Analysis of photos on reddit (scroll partway down) call her claim to be in hiding as extremely doubtful.

The interesting stuff [reddit.com]

Here's something important I just found out.

DougieFFC in the comments below you noted how she was in the New York Comic Con the very weekend she was supposedly driven home. So I just looked it up, and I may have found more proof.

So she attended NYCC on October 12, the same weekend the claimed to have been driven from her home:

https://archive.today/PRHu2
https://archive.today/SytE8

Now here's the interesting bit: she was scheduled to attend that NYCC panel since September 16:

https://archive.today/0sySH

In other words, she was "driven from her home" in the exact same weekend she already had scheduled to be out of town for months beforehand. And as the pictures show, she was back home on October 13, the very next day after the NYCC panel she attended.

Trust but verify and all, but we may have stumbled on a smoking gun, thanks to DougieFFC's comment.

I had always maintained that Wu was misleading people into believing that she was "forced from her home", that the "internet death threats" were not to be taken seriously, and that the police did NOT tell her to go into hiding. There's also the pics that show she was back home when she did the interview claiming to be on the run and not knowing when she'd be returning. So obviously she didn't take the threats seriously either - it was all hype. It will be interesting to see just what the FBI turns up about the source of those threats. Whether she didn't take them seriously because she was the source of them is now a fair question.

Why? My guess is she wanted to get into the public speaking gig scene, since she wasn't exactly making a hit as a game developer. Of course, after the HuffPost interview where she claimed to have both studied law and to have a background as a journalist, but got so many things wrong, it became painfully obvious that wasn't going to happen.

User Journal

Journal: 2014 - The year in review. 4

Journal by BarbaraHudson

Normally, people do this just before New Years, but I'm avoiding the Christmas rush.

It was not the best of times, it was not the worst of times ...

The good

Help with PTSD.The problems with my eyes, the battle with the developers, and everything else became too much a year ago. I saw that I was going down the same emotional rat-hole I had a couple of years before, and after one particularly bad nightmare of being assaulted in bed at knife-point, I was scared me enough to try one more time to get help dealing with my PTSD. I got lucky. Got a good psychiatrist who helped with medications, a psychological evaluation, and a therapist to help deal with the murder and the sexual assault.

Improvements in my eyes. The surgeons did a vitrectomy and retinal peel to restore vision in my left eye, which had gone completely blind from proliferative diabetic retinopathy. I can see out of it, but not read with it (too much distortion). The right eye no longer bleeds. This summer, I was able to start using a computer again once I learned how to ignore my left eye. Not enough to program but enough to surf on slashdot :-)

Standing up for trans rights

The building developers (see below) had publicly outed me as a transsexual at a public meeting hosted by the city, attended by many of my neighbors as well as others - between 100 and 200 people. Juicy gossip travels fast. Rather than give in to their attempt to get me to stop opposing them, I forced the guy in charge to publish this display ad in the main news section of the two largest newspapers with a combined daily circulation of something like 3/4 of a million.

I, Daniel Lefebre,
sincerely apologize to
Madame Barbara Hudson
if I have offended her
in any form of speech,
making reference to her
transsexuality during the
information assembly for the
residents of Anthony Street,
October 31st, 2013. I would
like to add that these words
were not approved by the
Cooperative. Thank you.

I believe very strongly in "pay it forward." This ad is part of that.

The bad

My battle to help my former neighbors fight the developer. I must have spent about 1,000 hours encouraging them, instructing them on their legal rights, monthly public and private meetings with the city council and mayor. Interviews on TV and the radio. Stories in the newspapers.

I went to court three times and used the courts to get the necessary documents. Anyone could successfully challenge the illegal evictions by just sitting on their butts and waiting for the new owner to try to give them the boot, then say "Show me da MONEY!"

This spring one tenant who took my advice got 6x times the money they had offered him and a delay, which kept him from ending up in the street in the middle of winter. Another won 5x the offered funds, plus the right to return to court if it's not sufficient. I did okay. I walked away with just under 7x the amount offered, after delaying work on my building by more than half a year.

So, with these initial successes, the 50 families facing the same situation this fall were almost unanimous in their declarations about how they would stand and fight. And then folded almost immediately, taking the lowball offers that didn't even meet the legal minimum. That was a tremendous disappointment.

Sickness in the family. This spring, while all this was going on, one of my sisters ended up in the hospital with a stroke, was released a month later, and half a week later was back in with another stroke and two fractured hips, and paralysis on one side.

I spent a lot of time at the hospital, doing a lot for her. Transferring her from the bed to the wheelchair and back because they way they were doing it with a porta-lift or two orderlies was time-consuming and hurt like hell, whereas I could do the transfer in less than 15 seconds with minimal pain. Encouraging her not to give up. Washing her down. Telling her the truth when everyone else was lying because they didn't want to hurt her. And getting hell from everyone in the family for telling her the truth. Escorting her to and from hospital appointments because, to put it simply, nobody else was available. Being there when she'd get the latest bad news from the doctors.

This continued into rehab for several months. She had worked in a "home", and knew how bad it could be. She feared it, and I told her I would do everything possible to help her avoid it. I left the development. Rented a larger place with enough room for her and her wheelchair. Of course, everyone else in the family opposed it, but nobody else could take her. In the end, without any help it was just not possible, so another failure.

The ugly

I had been warned that the depressions I had suffered would quite possibly come back, and it did. These back-to-back failures hit me harder than I thought they would. I described what it's like to be mentally ill here. And at the end of November, after almost 8 months without a panic attack, I had the worst one ever.

Last month I told my psychiatrist that I was determined to beat this, but I now realize that beating it is impossible - I'll have to learn to live with it, same as diabetes. Remind myself of my promise not to do anything stupid or take major decisions when I'm down in the dumps, and to reach out for help at the first signs. But at least I'm still around, and I expect to be so to write the 2015 review.

So, how was your year?

User Journal

Journal: Logged-in user defends bestiality. 2

Journal by BarbaraHudson

In the discussion thread under Doom 3DO Source Released, slashdot user ArmoredDragon attacks the submitter by referring to her as an "it" here

I was about to say #gamergate activists would love it too because of it being a female developer, but then I found out that it wasn't technically female.

Well, I (among others) couldn't let that pass ...

because of it being a female developer, but then I found out that it wasn't technically female.

Are you proud of yourself, referring to someone as an "it?"

He tries to weasel out of it here

"It" in this context is just referring to the this particular case, and not to a person, hence it's gender neutral, as English permits. I don't know whether or not English is your first language, but unlike many languages there's no requirement to specify gender in English, especially in gender neutral objects.

but another user calls him out on his excuse

No, you're wrong. You can use "it" to refer to an object, but not a person. It's just rude.

The first "it" is different as it was used like "it is raining". The repetition of "it" was clearly deliberate, to enable a dig at a trans-gendered person.

There's no point trying to weasel out of it, we get that you don't like the idea of trans-gender.

There's a lot more of that, but it gets stranger ...

I'm not going to go through the whole war, in 3 separate sub-threads ... just provide quotes from the sub-thread that gets into him defending bestiality

We don't really know that though. There could be a lot more like him but won't go through with it because *most* medical professionals will refuse to do these kinds of things, not only that but few of them will have familial support. Also (and I'm not equating this) there are probably a sizable number of people that are into bestiality as well, but don't say anything about it. If you do a google search for them, you'll find forums and such dedicated to it, but try asking any of them if they're out to anybody or open about it. Probably 99.99% of them will answer in the negative.

Similar to you however (and again, I need to stress that I'm not equating) they also seem to believe that what they're doing is good, natural, and indeed their "partners" enjoy it too so there's nothing wrong with it. (And I honestly don't know whether or not they enjoy it. If they do, and nobody is getting hurt, then I guess there's nothing wrong with it, and it wouldn't bother me if I knew anybody who did.) Gays and transexuals denounce them however just how they themselves have been denounced in the past.

My reply:

It's not just the LGBTt who denounce bestiality. Where's the informed consent of the animal? Your comparison is ludicrous.

He defends it because of he saw a BBC documentary

There was a BBC documentary about it a while back. I believe the consent (to them) came from the animals showing signs of enjoyment that they normally showed during sex with their own species. That and I think if the larger animals didn't want to participate, they certainly have the power to refuse.

My reply:

So if a muscular 12-year-old girl is lured into having sex with her teacher (someone in a position of authority, same as a human wrt an animal) and she actually enjoys it (in part because she's thinking that by following her teacher she's doing the right thing) that's okay because she "showed signs of enjoyment"? And that she should have run away instead because "she was certainly capable"?

These excuses have been used by paedophiles in court. They don't work because there was effectively no consent. That you don't see a problem with this is disturbing.

User Journal

Journal: What is it like to be mentally ill? 26

Journal by BarbaraHudson

I had already been thinking about writing this for the last couple of weeks when The Schizophrenic Programmer Who Built An OS To Talk To God made the front page. There appears to be a sizable contingent who still believe that mental illness == crazy. 4% of the population will have a serious mental illness in the next 12 months. So let me share what it's like to be mentally ill.

Am I mentally ill? Sure. I'm being treated for both PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) and MDD (Major Depressive Disorder).

Am I "crazy"? No. No "voices in my head", no "visions", no "loss of contact with reality"; in short, no psychosis.

About 3 years ago I went into a deeper and longer depression than ever before. I had reason to be depressed - my retinas were deteriorating, using a computer for 8 hours a day was out so I figured (rightly) that my career as a programmer was probably over, and I didn't have a clue as to what to do next. I wasn't able to stay awake more than a few hours at a time, and when I wasn't sleeping I found my thoughts turning more and more to suicide.

I dropped out. From slashdot. From the net. From friends. From family. My life boiled down to trying to think of any excuse, any reason, to have hope, and walking my dogs in the winter snow.

As the weeks turned into months, I had failed to convince myself that the pros of life outweighed the cons, so I picked a date - the month of May. And yes, I had a plan.

Spring came, and I think it was in April that my mood started to reverse itself. By May, my depression had mostly passed, and I resigned myself to slogging on and hoping for better times.

I was an idiot - I freely admit it. It never even occurred to me to go to an E.R. and ask to see a psychiatrist. I had managed to make it through all these years without professional help, that when I needed it most, it was off my radar.

Last December things started to fall apart again. My eyesight had temporarily deteriorated to the point that I was letting my dog mostly lead me around outdoors. I was having nightmares, anxiety and panic attacks, and I dared not show it because a couple of hundred people were depending on me to lead the fight against a property developer who had taken over our apartment buildings. They were trying to illegally kick half of us out by February 1st, do some renovations, jack up the rent, then repeat with the other buildings. So I'd go and encourage yet another family that I wouldn't let them down, then go home and cry.

One particular nightmare convinced me that it was imperative that I get to an E.R. sooner rather than later, or I'd end up down the same rabbit hole I had fallen into 2 years prior.

I got lucky. At first, I befuddled the psychiatrist with my story. I explained that yes, I was a transsexual, but that had nothing to do with the problem at hand, which was PTSD, which had been diagnosed at another hospital after a sexual assault, but it had started when I was in high school when another classmate killed his father.

I was talking so fast, and my story was so incredible, that (he later confided) he thought I was having a manic episode. Or on drugs. Or both. I gave him permission to check the other hospital's records to confirm the assault, and to call one of my sisters to confirm the murder. My urine sample came back negative, so we talked about what was happening in my life, and what I wanted from him.

That last bit was simple - "I don't want what happened before to happen again. I don't want to go into that black hole with no way out."

I left with a prescription for an antidepressant, and a follow-up two months hence - but if things got bad, "don't wait - call me."

We had to change antidepressants twice - the first one ... well, I've never done drugs, but waking up and being able to control my dvd player / tuner with my mind was a bit too much. The second one removed by ability to sense that I was going hypoglycemic - I went to rise from my kitchen chair and immediately passed out. Woke up just over an hour later on the tile floor with a solid concussion and bruises on both sides of my body.

The third time was a charm. The new prescription ended the anxiety, didn't interfere with me realizing that I had screwed up my insulin dosage, and the only side effect was that I often had to take a nap around lunch. I was now in a good place again.

It was about this time that I started therapy to help me how to deal with PTSD. Here too I was lucky. My therapist had previous experience dealing with transsexuals, as well as people with PTSD and rape victims, so when she had a chance to work with someone who combined all three she immediately volunteered.

By this point I was symptom-free, so I was able to focus on applying what she was teaching me - distorted thinking aka cognitive distortion, as well as helping me to finally understand that not only was there nothing I could have done to prevent the murder and that most people would have been killed, that crazy events don't have rational explanations and trying to find one will just drive you crazy, that trying to help someone else but failing doesn't make me a failure, and that those in my family who won't accept me by now, there's not much to do except accept them the way they are.

I also underwent a few sessions with a psychologist, giving him background info, answering his questions, taking different tests. The Rorschach was the most interesting. I told him how strange it was - I remembered the answers I had given as a kid, but I didn't see the same things at all (my previous answers were "dark").

So, everything was now under control, and I felt better than I had in ages. I was moving to a larger apartment in a better neighborhood, having fixed things up so that none of my former neighbors had to do ANYTHING except (1) refuse every offer, (2) wait for a summons, (3) go to court, and (4) PROFIT. We had the judgments, we had the law on our side, and I had delayed work on my side of the building by 6 months by the simple expedient of refusing to move out. Any further delay and the project was dead.

My therapist had warned me that because I have a history of depression, it would likely happen again. She was right. Late August and early September were denoted by three back-to-back negative events. The worst was that despite my best efforts, and moving into a larger place that had enough room for someone confined to a wheelchair, there was no way that I would be able to keep a close relative from having to go into palliative care instead.

I then set up the two laptops (one Windows 8.1, the other Fedora 19) and two 26" screens, and set about trying to get back into coding, since I have one eye that I can still read with. I was hoping against hope, but it turns out there's no way I can get "back into the zone" again. At least not while taking anti-depressants, and that's just too risky.

And in the end, almost every person who had agreed not to accept any offer from the developers folded without a fight. Sheeple really are sheeple. I feel sorry for them.

Three failures, back-to-back-to-back. I took the first one particularly hard. I started to get "down in the dumps". When it didn't clear up in a couple of weeks, I promised myself that if there was no change I would call my psychiatrist. Things started to improve, but it was like the calm before a storm. Within another week I was not able to stay awake more than 2-3 hours at a time, despite 10 or more hours of sleep. My mood darkened, thoughts of suicide came to seem more and more "reasonable". "Why should I continue if I'm always going to end up back here?" "There's no future." "The only person who benefited from all my hard volunteer work this past year was me. Couldn't even do that right." "My life sucks." "Being me sucks. What a waste."

A month in, I was counting the days to my next appointment with my psychiatrist, which was still a month away ... It was draining. My days had devolved into sleep, get up, walk the dogs, have breakfast, surf slashdot for a while, take a 3-4-hour "nap", walk the dogs, surf slashdot for a while, take another "nap", have supper, walk the dogs, go to bed, all while thoughts of killing myself were chasing me.

The last week of October things started getting better. I was still unable to stay awake for more than a few hours at a time, but by the first week of November, I was in a better place emotionally. No more thoughts of pulling the plug, and that's all that counted. I described it to my psychiatrist when I went for my appointment and he told me that I should have called when I first noticed things going downhill. I told him that I hadn't wanted to intrude, seeing as we had a scheduled visit coming up, but he assured me it wouldn't be an intrusion - he's there to help me, it's his job. I understand that, but I still feel a bit like I'm imposing on him.

The upshot is that my evening antidepressant dose is now doubled, and I now have a different one for the morning, which will hopefully get rid of the need to sleep during the day. So far, it's not working, but it's only been a week, and I see him in another 4 weeks to re-evaluate.

So, as promised, a look into what being mentally ill is like. It must seem strange, alien, to most of you, but probably not so much to the "walking wounded" out there who are suffering in silence because of all the stigma and prejudice. Not to mention sheer ignorance - I don't know how many times people (especially family members) have told me that I should "just pull myself out of it". Now THAT'S depressing :-)

User Journal

Journal: Canada considering its own Bitcoin?

Journal by BarbaraHudson
CTV is reporting

The Bank of Canada says it's weighing the possible benefits of issuing electronic money.

Senior deputy governor Carolyn Wilkins says the central bank is evaluating the merits of digital currencies like Bitcoin -- even as it monitors e-money's potential pitfalls.

In prepared remarks for her speech Thursday in Waterloo, Ont., Wilkins says people who use e-money need to be aware of the risks of putting their trust in a lightly regulated currency with limited or no user protection.

So who would you trust - Bitcoin or eCoins from the country with the soundest banking system in the world

User Journal

Journal: Part of the first chapter ... 33

Journal by BarbaraHudson

Now that I've got 10 or 15 chapters written (sorry, can't be bothered counting) I'm going to follow up on Tuesday's JE, "50 words or less?"

AS you may recall, my premise is as follows:

  • 1. Get the reader's attention in 50 words or less (your opening paragraph) with one of your main points. It should pose enough questions that the reader wants to read the rest of the page;
  • 2. Make sure there's enough meat on the rest of the page to get them to want to finish off the first chapter;
  • 3. If they finish the first chapter, you've got a chance to get them to read the rest.

So here's the first couple of pages of the first chapter. Rather than setting up the scene, I throw the reader into it and only introduce the background facts where they need them. This means that the reader doesn't have to wade through (potentially) tons of stuff that has no immediate relevance before getting to the story proper.

[redacted] and I were standing in the kitchen; he behind his father, who was seated at the table eating a sandwich, and me in front of the table. [redacted] had a dish towel in his hands, and was making motions for me to âoedo itâ â" to kill his father.

I returned to the basement. [redacted] followed, we argued in hushed tones. He told me over and over that I had to hit his father on the back of the head with the pipe, and I kept refusing. I already knew what was in store for me if we went through with his plans â" that he would then kill me, claiming that his father had been the one to attack me, that he had intervened, and that his father and I had both been killed in the ensuing struggle.

I had seen [redacted]s' fantasies becoming more detailed for several months, but didn't have anyone I could turn to. Instead, when I returned from high school on December 6th, 6 weeks previous, I had typed up a description of how the double murder would take place, asking the police not to treat it as an accident. I put this letter in an envelope and hid it in my bedroom, figuring that if I were wrong, no harm done, but that if I were right and [redacted] really was evolving into a killer, he'd at least be caught in the end.

I stood in the kitchen not knowing what to do. I couldn't fight [redacted] â" he was a foot taller and 100 pounds heavier. The pipe I held behind my back would be useless against him. I couldn't run because I had nowhere to run to. The seconds were ticking away, his father sitting there oblivious to the fact that these were probably the last minutes of his life.

Why hadn't I approached my parents with any of this? I was already hiding a huge secret from them â" that I was a transsexual. It's why I stayed on the fringes in high school â" I had learned early in life that any leakage of my true nature was bait for bullies. My father? âoeWhy can't you act like other boys?â My mother? She had enough on her plate between work and taking care of my 5 younger sisters.

Christmas had come and gone and I was still alive. Not having any contact with [redacted] over the holidays, maybe his crisis had passed and I could return to just being a kid with a shameful secret.

So that's how I came to be standing in a dark basement in the middle of January, rapidly losing a face-to-face argument with a killer, struggling to change events that had already been cast in stone. And I was going to die.

We went back upstairs, where the scene repeated itself. [redacted] returned to his place at the kitchen sink behind his father, who was now reading the newspaper, a cup of tea nearby. I stood mute in what had become my place, watching [redacted] making motions behind his father's head for me to get on with it.

I don't know where I found the courage to turn around and go back downstairs again, but I did. I can still see the absolute rage in [redacted]s' face; any second he was going to take the dish towel, which was stretched between his two clenched fists, and throttle me. And still I resisted. But this had been going on for what seemed like hours, even though it had to be less, and when he ordered me back upstairs again I obeyed.

The tableau repeated itself for a third time. [redacted] was again behind his father, motioning at me, his face turning more red with every passing second. His father continued to be oblivious both to the drama taking place around him and his role in it; he sipped from his teacup.

It was time.

NOTES: The reader now knows, without having to first wade through any boring chapters about high school or family, the approximate age of the characters, as well as some of their issues and some of the dynamics between them. The reader also knows, or at least strongly suspects, that someone's going to be killed any second.

Sure, I could have taken 50 pages to set it up, but why bother when there's so much more to tell (this is, after all, only the beginning).

Criticism, as always, welcome. I have my asbestos undies on :-) And no, I'm not saying this is the only way to tell a story - just that it's the way that I think this story can best be told.

User Journal

Journal: 50 words or less? 10

Journal by BarbaraHudson

When you give a speech, you tell your audience what you're gonna tell them (intro), tell them (body), and then tell them what you told them (summary). Story-telling (and here I include both fiction and non-fiction) used to also take the same long process to set the reader up. Using one or more chapters to do a mis-en-scene is unforgivable today.

  • 1. Get the reader's attention in 50 words or less (your opening paragraph) with one of your main points. It should pose enough questions that the reader wants to read the rest of the page;
  • 2. Make sure there's enough meat on the rest of the page to get them to want to finish off the first chapter;
  • 3. If they finish the first chapter, you've got a chance to get them to read the rest.

Example first para (49 words):

[Redacted] and I were standing in the kitchen; he behind his father, who was seated at the table eating a sandwich, and me in front of the table. [Redacted] had a dish towel in his hands, and was making motions for me to "do it" - to kill his father.

Notes:

The use of the first person makes the text more immediate. People more closely identify with first-person stories.
There's no time wasted in fleshing out the characters or setting up the scene. That can come later, as needed.
The reader is told within the first 50 words that something important / bad / serious is going on - and what that something is.
The dish towel? It plays a part.

So, what happens / happened next?

Mausoleum: The final and funniest folly of the rich. -- Ambrose Bierce

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