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The Hypocrite

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Old 07-13-2018, 03:12 PM
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Default The Hypocrite


Thomas took the final puff of his joint, stubbed it out and picked up his beer, taking a long swig, as he stepped from the outside deck into his living room.

He came face to face with a man in a mask, yielding a pistol.

“Who the fuck are you?” Thomas said, pausing from lowering his beer. He was no stranger to peoples’ attempts at intimidating him.

“Where do you keep your money?” asked the man in the mask, aiming his pistol at Thomas forehead.

Thomas raised an eyebrow. “Christ, really?”

The man shook lividly. “Do not take the Lord’s name in vain!”

Thomas narrowed an eye and leered forward. “What?”

“You took the Lord’s name in vain,” hissed the man in the mask. “Don’t do that!”

Thomas broke into laughter. “Really,” he said, “you’re breaking and entering, and presumably about to commit some theft and god knows what else, and you’re admonishing me not to use your imaginary god’s name in vain?”

The man in the mask stared into space. He scratched his head.

“What would you think of a poor man who taught a system to get rich?” asked Thomas, rubbing a hand back and forth over his shaved head. “What would you think of an outcast who promised the secret to attaining popularity?”

The man in the mask straightened up. “So what are you saying?”

“You can’t figure it out?”

“You calling me a hypocrite, punk?”

Thomas sighed and massaged the bridge of his nose. “We got a bright one here, don’t we?”

The man in the mask grew animated. “God is real, man!”

“So why don’t you follow his laws then?”

The man in the mask lowered his pistol. “What do you mean?”

“One of the ten commandments is: Thou shalt not steal,” said Thomas, shifting his weight from one leg to the other. “Are you not about to break that commandment?” The man in the mask was about to speak, when Thomas continued. “Or how about: thou shalt not kill? Isn’t that a possibility here?”

The man in the mask sneered. “The second commandment is: Thou shalt not take the name of thy Lord in vain. Stealing and murdering are lower, like five or seven. That means you’re a greater sinner than I am.”

Thomas chuckled. “Dude, you’re breaking and entering. Doesn’t your good book command you to keep the laws of the land?”

“I don’t know nothing about that.”

Thomas rolled his eyes. “I know the scriptures better than you, and you’re the only one here who believes in them. You’re funny.”

“You’re the one with a wart on their face – not me.”

“Right, says the guy wearing a mask.”

[Unfinished]


Suggestions for an ending?

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Old 07-13-2018, 04:53 PM
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The masked man shoots Thomas for being too logical and confusing him.
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Old 07-14-2018, 02:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Nox View Post
The masked man shoots Thomas for being too logical and confusing him.
I'm not sure it's a wise idea for a writer to reward their character's evil deeds. Won't that just piss people off? I mean, imagine if JK Rowling had Voldemort kill Harry (for good), and he took over the magical world. Wouldn't that be disappointing, because we like to believe that good prevails in the end?
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Old 07-14-2018, 06:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Konan View Post
I'm not sure it's a wise idea for a writer to reward their character's evil deeds. Won't that just piss people off? I mean, imagine if JK Rowling had Voldemort kill Harry (for good), and he took over the magical world. Wouldn't that be disappointing, because we like to believe that good prevails in the end?


Maybe the bad guy is not the guy with the gun
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Old 07-14-2018, 06:42 PM
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Originally Posted by brianpatrick View Post
Maybe the bad guy is not the guy with the gun
Someone breaks into your house and attempts to rob you -- you don't think he's the bad guy and you're the victim?
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Old 07-14-2018, 06:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Konan View Post
Someone breaks into your house and attempts to rob you -- you don't think he's the bad guy and you're the victim?


You’re the writer. He is what you say he is.
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Old 07-14-2018, 06:50 PM
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Originally Posted by brianpatrick View Post
You’re the writer. He is what you say he is.
Nah, there's a sense of morality or justice we all concur with, and Jesus and Krishna has it right in preaching the Golden Rule. If a man breaks into my home and threatens to steal from me and maybe kill me, he's the "bad guy". I mean, I did nothing to provoke him into such a measure of action.
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Old 07-15-2018, 09:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Konan View Post
Nah, there's a sense of morality or justice we all concur with, and Jesus and Krishna has it right in preaching the Golden Rule. If a man breaks into my home and threatens to steal from me and maybe kill me, he's the "bad guy". I mean, I did nothing to provoke him into such a measure of action.
Anybody who breaks in "yielding a pistol" isn't bad - just suicidal.

(maybe change to 'wielding' for a more convincing aggressor)
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Old 07-15-2018, 10:19 AM
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Originally Posted by Konan View Post
Nah, there's a sense of morality or justice we all concur with, and Jesus and Krishna has it right in preaching the Golden Rule. If a man breaks into my home and threatens to steal from me and maybe kill me, he's the "bad guy". I mean, I did nothing to provoke him into such a measure of action.


Yes, but the way I read this story, Thomas is just as guilty or “bad” as the burglar. He is vain, treats his body like shit, is cynical and condescending, and the story hints that he’s no stranger to rough ways of living. With a few tweaks the story could easily move to a place where the robbery is really the assassination of a pompous asshole who deserves it.
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Old 07-15-2018, 01:56 PM
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Originally Posted by brianpatrick View Post
Yes, but the way I read this story, Thomas is just as guilty or “bad” as the burglar. He is vain, treats his body like shit, is cynical and condescending, and the story hints that he’s no stranger to rough ways of living. With a few tweaks the story could easily move to a place where the robbery is really the assassination of a pompous asshole who deserves it.
So what I hear you saying is that what determines "good" from "evil" is all about attitude, not actions.

I think there's something to be said of people who refuse to let others intimidate them, by taking control of the "frame" and stripping the aggressor of their power, or in other words, taking control of the situation where they're the "underdog".

I think your logic is fucked.

And what's so wrong about taking a puff of weed here or there, or having a couple drinks. Aren't you the guy who would pick up a 6-pack every day for years on end until you threw in the towel. Pussy.
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Old 07-15-2018, 02:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Konan View Post
I think there's something to be said of people who refuse to let others intimidate them, by taking control of the "frame" and stripping the aggressor of their power, or in other words, taking control of the situation where they're the "underdog".

I agree, but in the situation of breaking and entering, it doesn't ring true. Unless you've had a pistol to your face a dozen or more times, you're not going to act the way your MC acts. Truthfully, he should be scared shitless. Your guy doesn't register an ounce of fear, and instead goes on some pseudo-religous morality rant. Doesn't ring true. This feels less like a story and more like you trying to win some debate.
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Old 07-15-2018, 02:26 PM
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This reminds me a bit of my college days. One of my roommates called the police and reported that the Cable TV guy had stolen a pound bag of weed.



Hilarity ensued.
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Old 07-15-2018, 02:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Konan View Post
I'm not sure it's a wise idea for a writer to reward their character's evil deeds. Won't that just piss people off? I mean, imagine if JK Rowling had Voldemort kill Harry (for good), and he took over the magical world. Wouldn't that be disappointing, because we like to believe that good prevails in the end?

There are writers who reward a bad character. It's not an unheard of thing.



perhaps a rewrite with the robber turning Thomas into the authorities for heresy.
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Old 07-15-2018, 02:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Mohican View Post
There are writers who reward a bad character. It's not an unheard of thing.
Sure, but how many of them make a name for themselves? I can't even count one on my fingers.
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Old 07-15-2018, 02:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Grace Gabriel View Post
Anybody who breaks in "yielding a pistol" isn't bad - just suicidal.

(maybe change to 'wielding' for a more convincing aggressor)


I thank you for noting this aspect of the story.
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Old 07-15-2018, 03:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Nick Pierce View Post
I thank you for noting this aspect of the story.
Yup, that's probably a better word to use. I agree. Maybe I'll change that.
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Old 07-15-2018, 08:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Konan View Post
Sure, but how many of them make a name for themselves? I can't even count one on my fingers.


You are not reading widely (or deeply) enough, then.

Stop reading Harry Potter.

Start with Crime and Punishment. Dostoevsky seems to have made a name for himself. Then maybe Heart of Darkness (that Conrad guy kinda made a name too).
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Old 07-16-2018, 07:17 AM
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I read "Crime and Punishment" ages ago, and enjoyed it. But didn't Dostoevsky punish Rascolnakov (sp) in the end? Same Suskind's "Perfume" -- he brought about the character's demise at the conclusion.
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Old 07-16-2018, 02:37 PM
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Not really sure what all this "stand your ground" stuff is about. Most home invaders just need a good talking to.
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Old 07-16-2018, 02:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Konan View Post
I read "Crime and Punishment" ages ago, and enjoyed it. But didn't Dostoevsky punish Rascolnakov (sp) in the end? Same Suskind's "Perfume" -- he brought about the character's demise at the conclusion.


Raskolnikov is redeemed in the end.
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Old 07-16-2018, 02:44 PM
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I think he must have watched the Lifetime movie.
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Old 07-16-2018, 04:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Konan View Post
So what I hear you saying is that what determines "good" from "evil" is all about attitude, not actions.



I think there's something to be said of people who refuse to let others intimidate them, by taking control of the "frame" and stripping the aggressor of their power, or in other words, taking control of the situation where they're the "underdog".



I think your logic is fucked.



And what's so wrong about taking a puff of weed here or there, or having a couple drinks. Aren't you the guy who would pick up a 6-pack every day for years on end until you threw in the towel. Pussy.


Actions AND attitude. They are linked. I would assume by the MC’s attitude that his actions are also conceited and flawed. You as the writer can make this not so, but you’d have to write it that way.

And, there’s nothing wrong with a rascal MC—tons of those—people like them, but they have to have something greater than their rascality justifying their shitty actions and attitude. They have to have a redeeming quality. Something more than boiler-plate anti-religious memes.

Give us the reader something we don’t know and can think about. Some unique perspective.

Have you read Post Office by Bukowski? That’s a good example. Chinaski is an asshole, but he’s a really smart asshole with something to tell the reader about his world. Something they don’t already know.
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Old 07-16-2018, 04:28 PM
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There’s a Raymond Carver short story; the MC wants to get rid of the family dog. He drives the dog to the next town, and boots it out of the car. Then he has second thoughts, chases after the dog, but when he encounters the dog, they stare each other down, and the dog walks off.

On the surface you want to hate this guy, but Carver builds the character and his circumstances in such a way that you can’t help but sympathize with him on some level. His marriage sucks. His job sucks. He has a mistress, but that’s a pathetic and desperate relationship. But somehow, you can relate.

Of course, that’s a heck of a lot easier to pull off with a short story. You’re not asking people to stick with a character over the course of novel, so really anything goes. You’re only limited by your ability to write a realistic and relatable character.

Last edited by E. Zamora; 07-17-2018 at 05:15 AM..
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Old 07-16-2018, 05:03 PM
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Jesse kind of nailed it. The whole thing is contrived.

The only way you could possibly save this is with a big injection of humor and irony.

So far, it's devoid of either, so it comes off as way too preachy and heavy handed.

Last edited by E. Zamora; 07-17-2018 at 05:19 AM..
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Old 07-17-2018, 08:00 AM
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Originally Posted by E. Zamora View Post
Jesse kind of nailed it. The whole thing is contrived.

The only way you could possibly save this is with a big injection of humor and irony.

So far, it's devoid of either, so it comes off as way too preachy and heavy handed.
Maybe ... maybe not.
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Old 07-17-2018, 12:42 PM
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Also, the repitition of "the man in the mask" is grating.

And my guess is you could eliminate some of the dialog tags.

Last edited by E. Zamora; 07-17-2018 at 01:57 PM..
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Old 07-17-2018, 01:08 PM
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A regular burglar would probably not aim for his head. That position is dramatic for a shooter and leaves one with a vulnerable feeling.

Holding a pistol low, aimed at center mass, close to the shooters body, is probably more realistic.
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Old 07-17-2018, 02:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Konan View Post
Thomas took the final puff of his joint, stubbed it out and picked up his beer
Hey, man, can I get a hit off that lip stabber?

Sorry, dude. It's the last of my stash and I really need to get a buzz on.

Bummer, man.

Dude, you can have the roach.

Hey, that's cool, brother.
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Old 07-19-2018, 10:16 PM
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Originally Posted by E. Zamora View Post
Not really sure what all this "stand your ground" stuff is about. Most home invaders just need a good talking to.
A well-known felon tried to do a home invasion on me one time. After taking his sawed-off 12-gauge pump, I told him, "I'm going to give you an opportunity to do something no one in your position will probably ever get to do again."

"What's that?" he asked.

"To get up and walk out that door alive," I told him.

He started to say something and I cut him off.

"I've got a pistol in my pocket, and it's pointed right at the back of your head." He was seated in my easy chair, while I stood directly behind him. "I suggest you get up and walk out that door, because I've got no problem with pulling this trigger."

Apparently, that little talking to was all he needed, because he never bothered us again.

Other than to come by to see about getting the shotgun back, a couple of days later (he'd borrowed it, promising to come back with riches, and was highly embarrassed about having to return with his tail between his legs, sans shotgun). I socked him up on the porch, knocked him clear down the steps, then chased him out the gate with a machete.

But I talked to him the whole way.
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