Friday, April 4, 2008


“Don’t name the emotion. Feel it.” -- Barbara Krasner (from her article, “Sketch your way to CHARACTER EMOTION”, in the March 2008 edition of The Writer)

* * *

Mitchell put the weight of himself behind the sand wedge. The graphite shaft cut through the air with an eerie whiiiip before the carbon steel head found its target with a satisfying thwack. The subtle vibration energized his arms, and he jerked the club loose, drew it back over his head for another blow. He felt a drop of splatter run down his cheek. Chips of bone peppered his shirt and neck, adhered with globs of gray matter.

Again and again, he swung the Callaway X-Tour. The practice sessions in the back yard now over, this time it was for real. Each stroke captured and symbolized every single infraction upon Mitchell and the family. This one is for cheating on mom. Remember the time you beat me until I was left hobbling from my room? The time you cursed me in public after I struck out at the bottom of the ninth. On and on. When he added them all together, the sum of Mitchell’s grievances against his father totaled up to one big DIS- in their dysfunctional family.

His strength spent, his arms feeling like rotted-out tree stumps, Mitchell staggered back, slumped against his parent’s dresser, and took in the full view. Blood splatter arced across the ceiling, sprayed out against the headboard. His dad’s face, once chiseled with sharp lines, now looked like a melon after it had been dropped from a two-story window.

He snickered, his shoulders convulsing up and down. His heart jumped inside his chest, its pulse pounding the inside of his ears.

Mitchell raised his right arm, wiped his forhead. His shirtsleave came away smeared with sweat and the aftermath of his brutality.

So, tell me something, dad, he thought. How about them Yankees?

* * *

Note for my readers: I don’t know where this one came from. It probably surfaced from that dark place in the back of my mind, where the door is fastened shut with a rusted-out padlock.

The point is, as Barbara Krasner explored in her article, writers are wasting their time (and their reader’s) by simplifying emotions into trite little phrases like, "He was angry." That doesn’t cut it. As a writer you need to put the who, what, where, when and why into the emotions for your readers to connect. I hope I did that with the little piece above. Even if it did gross any of you out.

Have a great weekend. :-)


  1. Ah, the "dark place in the back of one's mind" -- I understand it well. I am always a bit taken aback (and secretly delighted) when my writing springs from there.

    Here's one of my dark offerings from "behind the rusty padlock". It's not nearly as wickedly and deliciously detailed as yours(grand job, by the way -- you made me physically wince), but it was fun to write just the same:

    Fundamentally Wrong

  2. Thanks for the understanding, Tammy. I agree. Some days, that dark place is both intriguing and frightening at the same time.

    I read your piece, btw.

    "In any other man, she might have found this trait a little sexy. But not in Kevin."

    I guess she didn't find anything sexy in Jim, Pete, Larry, Randall or Skip, either. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Great stuff! I love it - dark and edgy and I'm wondering all along - who's head is he bashing? - and the reveal is just perfect. Um.

    I hope you try to place this somewhere. A little tweaking, ditch some redundancies, and you got yourself a nifty little flash.

    (And yes, you got to write from the gut - not the head). Peace...