Having children is one of the great joys of my life. I don’t share too much about them on this blog (I hope), but I have shared the story below in an answer on Quora concerning when a child can be considered a ‘creative genius’. I think my five-year old daughter Nica shows considerable talent, but I’d hesitate to call her a genius or even gifted. Nevertheless, the response on Quora to my answer was huge (28,000 views and 120 upvotes), even getting comments from people interested in buying her drawings/paintings.
Nica loves to draw and colour. A few of her works show that she has some talent in the direction of the creative arts. If you bear in mind that she’s came up with these drawings herself:
This Purple Cat drawing (made when she was four) she explained to me that up close you see dots, but when you look at it from a distance it’s a cat:
She had never heard of pointillism…
This robot drawing she made after her fifth birthday:
Which is reminiscent of the CoBrA movement, especially Corneille.
After showing these drawings on Quora, I got some requests from people about posting more of my daughter’s ‘art’, so I posted some more:
I’m the pirate on the left, with my eyepatch for glaucoma:
I have a lot of these random sketches. My daughter explained to me that this is the ‘Paas Mevrouw’ or Easter Lady:
Police officer stopping a motorist at a zebra crossing for driving through a red light:
Fish Bowl with Tropical Fish:
Cat and house painting:
Sinterklaas on his horse, with his name written out on the back:
Nica in her car, with self-adhesive letters in the corner:
This is a ‘very fat rabbit’:
This is a machine for making candy:
Inspired by the animation series Peppa Pig:
I put up more of Nica’s Art on her own photo page: Nica’s Art
Creating believable dialogue is an art, but part of the craft can be learned.
First of all, there are two adages that come to mind when writing dialogue. Strunk & White’s ‘Omit needless words’, and Elmore Leonard’s ‘Skip the boring parts’.
My own process:
What I most often do is write pages and pages of dialogue before I start culling the pages back to paragraphs. I’m a stickler for verisimilitude, so I tend to write dialogue that’s close to the real thing.
However, dialogue has a function in fiction, so I remove the quotidian from the verbiage and keep that which hints or tells something about the situation or the perspective of the character, as well as moving the plot forward.
I dislike ‘exposition’, but you can inform the reader in dialogue without info dumps if you infer rather than inform. So hint at stuff, instead of explaining things outright.
Another thing is that in real life, people rarely say what they mean. So that’s important to keep in your fictional dialogue–sometimes people are direct, other times they’re circumspect. Some characters are blunt, others tend to be more sophisticated.
An example from my current WIP, In Pocket. Wolfgang the pickpocket visits his fence to cash in his plastic:
I slipped into the booth, ignored the smoke from his cigar smouldering in the chipped glass ashtray, and placed a stack of credit cards in front of him. Mink sifted through the cards, refused three and pocketed the rest. His pudgy hand reappeared with cash and a gold-plated necklace, the lock broken to make it appear snatched.
“Two hundred retail,” Mink said. “Yours for twenty.”
“I don’t wear jewellery.”
He dangled the necklace from his thick fingers. “It’s a woman’s.”
“Don’t have a woman.”
I stuffed the money he gave me in my breast pocket, not eager to let him know where I stash my cash.
Mink smoothed the necklace on the table. “You should get out more.”
“If that advice had come from someone who didn’t live inside a dingy bar stuffed in a back alley, I might’ve taken it.”
“Always the smart mouth.” Mink shook his head. “One day you’ll learn that moving around isn’t the same as moving up.”
“Is that the voice of experience?”
He steepled his stubby fingers. “Don’t push your luck.”
“Respect goes two ways,” I said, “Don’t insult my intelligence pushing that gold-plated crap on me.”
Grinning, Mink put the necklace away. “You’re right, I should’ve known better.”
I got up to leave, but he flapped a pudgy hand. “Sit back down, we need to talk.”
“We do?” I sat back down, even though I didn’t really want to. Mink is connected and while I don’t want him to disrespect me, I also don’t want to piss him off.
Mink leaned back and drew on the stub of his cigar. “You work hotels?”
“Lobbies, on occasion. Sometimes hotel restaurants at breakfast time.”
He blew a plume of smoke at the ceiling. “But no further?”
“Not much to gain from venturing into the corridors.”
“Not for a pickpocket.” Mink ground out the cigarette in the ashtray with a savage twist. I heard somewhere that he used to have a highly volatile temper. “But that doesn’t mean you can’t be useful.”
I didn’t respond. Sometimes it’s better not to talk.
“I’m putting together a small crew for hotel burglaries,” Mink said. “You’d be a good addition.”
“I’m not into team sports, Mink.”
“I’m talking about a crew, not a team.”
“There’s a difference?”
“Members of a team all work towards the same goal, although there can be different tasks. A crew unites members with diverse specialties to work together as a cohesive unit.” He steepled his fingers. “You’d be part of a three-man crew. One stays by the door while two work the room. You have a good eye for valuables.”
I pointed at his pocket. “That necklace was a test?”
“You’d be in charge. I have passkeys, maps of the rooms, floor plans of the hotels. Three-way split. You, me and them.”
I shook my head. “Three people triple the risk.”
“I forgot, you don’t like to take risks.” Mink grinned, but his eyes stayed dead. “Let me know if you change your mind.”
I left the bar, glad to be back in the sunlight again.
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Enjoyed this novel very much. From the prologue, that gets the chills going, the story plunges the characters in a downward spiral that is both inevitable and horrifying. The realism in the struggle of the musicians trying to carve out their own niche, getting into deep trouble by their ambition adds verisimilitude in a story that could’ve been ridiculous if it hadn’t been so well-crafted.
I recommend this story to anyone who likes well-crafted horror stories set in the world of art and music.