March 23, 2023 writing invective theory

Bullet Points vs Prose

Because reasons, I’m working on rewrite of Behind Closed Doors. A lot of this involves de-bullet pointing the text. Below I’ve given a side-by-side for each. Obviously (hopefully?) I’m a better writer than I was three years ago, but I think it’s worthwhile seeing the same material both ways. Obviously, even my bullet-points are more prose-based than a lot of other examples I’ve seen. I find this only exacerbates my issue with them.

1) Entrance Hall
This wide room, the floor hidden beneath a mouldering bearskin, is dominated by a huge portrait of the late Lord Howard von Deiter. He appears domineering and batrachian, seated in an indeterminate void. Beneath the stairs, hidden behind inconspicuous doors, are five sets of coats with matching shoes. One set is made of much finer material, and cut to the style of the distant cities. Two are child-sized.

  • Entrance Hall - dominated by a portrait of the late Lord Howard von Deiter - domineering and batrachian.
    • Five sets of various sized boots with matching coats.
      • Highlight: one set nonlocal look and material.

2) Drawing Room
Filled with chairs and low tables, lined with dusty bookcases. Much of the floor is covered with plain, simple rugs. Beneath these rugs are fresh scrapes and marks, made with knives and forming no pattern. Chalkdust is abundant beneath these rugs. One of the bookcases is slightly less dusty than the others - several holy books number amongst its collection. Each has been subtly defaced throughout. Between them, scant few ruddy hairs can be found, coarse to the touch.

  • Drawing Room - filled with chairs and low tables lined with dusty bookcases. Austere rugs cover most of the otherwise plain floor—used for tuition.
    • Fresh scrapes and marks beneath rugs
    • Abundant chalk-dust in corners and beneath rugs
    • One book-case is less dusty:
      • Highlight: Fibres of rusty-red hair on the shelves - matching the beastman hair found in Althufe.
      • Several holy books are subtly defaced.

3) Dining Hall
This chamber is bisected by a dining table far too long for the room, requiring a shuffle to get around the edges. This barren waste is set for five, spread equidistantly around the table. Above the head of the table, the family crest leers: a stag, head pierced by three arrows. Each is labelled: honour, duty and humility.

  • Dining Hall - dominated by the family crest and a comically long dining table.
    • Set for five
      • Those exposed to nobility know staff eating with a family is highly unusual.

4) Kitchen
The old bricks of the kitchen are stained black with soot. The smell of cold grease fills the air, despite the gleaming cookware hung upon the walls. The knives are old and cared for lovingly - each sharp enough to go through bone.

  • Kitchen - the cold hearth’s bricks are stained soot-black. The smell of cold grease permeates.
    • All items are meticulously cleaned and organised—yet the smell remains.

5) Servants Rooms
Filled with eight cots and chests, all but one are clearly unused. Belonging to Matilda, the only occupied bed is kept tidier than the rest bed. Within the chest are her clothes, a series of shiny stones threaded onto red string and a much wider strap of leather set with tiny silver bells.

The other, partially hidden behind a sheet hung from the ceiling, belongs to Johan. On the inside of this sheet are sewn devotional hymns, dedicated to the spiritual benefits of hard labour. Hidden beneath his pillow, a fine silver letter-opener, sharpened to a razor edge. Inscribed upon the blade, For Service and Sacrifice - HVD

6) Butler Room This room” in separated only by a sheet nailed to the ceiling, creating a false wall. Within, the walls and sheet are covered in devotional hymns, dedicated to the spiritual benefits of hard labour. Atop a nightstand, a fine silver letter-opener, sharpened to a razor edge. Inscribed upon the blade, For Service and Sacrifice - HVD. A small polishing cloth rests there too. A chest contains three immaculate sets of clothes, each identical - and identical to the clothes currently worn by Johan.

  • Servants Rooms - a series of cots and chests - two aren’t vacant.
    • In the corner, Matilda’s cot
      • Highlight: Within the chest :A passable love poem, written by Leffe
      • Curio: shiny beaded stones.
      • Folk Instrument: A strap of leather with tiny silver bells
    • Behind a privacy curtain: Johans cot
      • Devotional hymns of labour nailed to the walls
      • A fine silver letter-opener, keenly sharpened
        • For Service and Sacrifice - HVD

In this instance I split the single room up, just to note.

7) Pantry
Much of the pantry is filled with a pair of deer, hung from their hind legs. The shelves are reasonably supplied with good quality ingredients - nothing is obviously missing nor anything unusual present.

  • Pantry - decently supplied, dominated by a pair of deer hung by their hind legs

8) Wine Cellar
The stink of fear fills this claustrophobic, unlit space. Within a cage squats Bets, awaiting judgement. Left alone without light, the dark has rushed in and filled him up. Something inside him is broken. Around this scared, lost child are generations of fine wines, many thickly coated in dust.

  • Wine Cellar - a dark space, stinking of fear
    • A caged Bets awaits judgement. In the dark. alone.
    • Surrounded by generations of fine wines accumulated by the (sober) Von Deiters.

9) Master Bedroom
A transplant into the mouldering shell of the house, the walls of this room are rich, dark wooden panes - installed professionally, and showing no sign of decay nor age. Much of the chamber is filled with a huge four-poster bed, the sheets all rich fabrics. One set of pillows is fresh and seemingly unused, whilst the other is heavily crinkled with a restless nights sleep. Two wardrobes sit against the wall - one filled with aging clothes in the regional style, whilst the other overflows with imported fashions from the heart of the realm.
A large dressing table sits before the window, with two locked drawers. Within them is 250sp worth of jewellery in gold and silver with low-value stones. One piece with a large central stone is hinged - the main stone opening up and revealing itself to be hollow. Within this is set another stone, carved deeply with the Sigil of Seeking - used in occult circles to indicate a desire for tuition.

  • Master Bedroom - a spot of luxury in the crumbling, aged house—rich, dark imported woods line the walls
    • Dominated by a four-poster bed
      • Examining the pillows reveals only one was recently used
    • A wide dressing table against the wall
      • Locked Drawers:
        • 50 GP in unremarkable jewellery.
        • One piece’s silver chased central gem bears a strange sigil deep within—research or occult knowledge discloses it as a Sigil of Seeking: worn by candidates for deeper induction into the mysteries.
    • Wardrobe filled with quarter-century outdated noble fashions.

10) Study
Austere. Uncurtained windows let the gloomy light of Drinshire illuminate a huge, pitted desk of black wood. A veneer of dust sits upon a large collection of papers - all detail the minutiae of managing an estate. Taking the time to read through them, one thing is clear - the family von Deiter are destitute.

  • Study - austere and spartan filled by a single heavy pitted desk.
    • Desktop papers concern management of Althufe and it’s surrounds
      • These papers haven’t been touched in a week

11) Bathroom
A claw-foot tub sits the centre of the room, kept meticulously clean. A candle-holder sits upon a small table nearby - the candles themselves absent.

  • Bathroom - dominated by a huge, central, bronze claw-foot tub.
    • Candle holder lacks candles

12) Twins’ Room
No physical barrier divides this room - but a stark contrast exists between them. The left is filled with candles as if by some waxy fungal infestation, clustering atop stacks of books detailing aristocratic heroes - many of whom make unsavoury deals for the good of their bloodline. The candles are in all different hues, and show signs of heavy use. The right side of the room is filled with canvases, paints and sketches, organised meticulously. The art would be good in an adult - promising in a child. The most recent pieces are landscapes and family portraits - notably including Grigoret oddly fusing with Tabitha, their colours running into one another.

Beneath both beds, discarded and forgotten children’s toys.

  • Twins Room - room is cleanly divided by aesthetic, absent any physical barrier
    • The Sophia’s (left side): filled with books, candles and small knick-knacks
      • mostly fiction books concerning aristocratic heroes and subtle imitations of dark bargains
      • A pandemonium of multihued candles (some scented) sprout like fungus from every surface.
    • The right side - Brunhilde’s - is filled with art and art supplies.
      • Impressive art for a youth.
        • landscapes and figures from the Manor—Grigoret and Tabitha tend to be oddly fused, as if painted as a continuation of one being
      • Beneath the art are discarded and seemingly forgotten children’s toys.

13) Guest Room 1
The smell of slow, dry decay wafts through the devastation of this chamber, filled with piled stacks of detritus - each stacked in such a way that any disturbance is sure to bring the entire edifice down in a huge crash. Nothing of value is within them. At the foot of the bed is a large locked travelling chest. Within it are 4 heavy theological works, filled with marginalia noting deviations from Primal Worship.”

  • Guest Room 1 - used by Grigoret is bursting at the seams with clutter.
    • A huge (locked) travelling chest sits against the South wall.
      • Contains numerous serious theological works
        • filled Grigoret’s marginalia decrying deviations from Primal Worship”

14) Guest Room 2
Pristine, kept in readiness despite the decay of the home. A small, tasteful landscape painting sits upon the wall. Beneath the bed, a small locked box of iron. The interior of the box is split in half - the left side containing a handwritten grimoire, bulging with inserts. It details many heretical magical experiments, passages copied from dark tomes in alien alphabets. !!new spells. The right side has a collection of magical components - newt eyes, frog hearts, crow beaks, dessicated earthworms, red beastman fur, corpse-salts, liars tongue and more.

Smashing open the box has a 60% chance of ruining the contents.

  • Guest Room 2 - pristine and spare—bed and a small tasteful landscape painting
    • Beneath the bed, a small locked box:
      • Split Interior:
        • Left side: a fat handwritten grimoire
          • Details heretical magical experiments with diagrams and copied passages in strange tongues, all in a mix of inks but the same handwriting. The language is incomprehensible without magical assistance.
        • The magically gifted know these are spells of some strange providence, unknown to conventional schools of magic.
      • Right Side: filled with sorted small magical reagents and components
        • Newt eyes, frog hearts, beaks of crows, dessicated earthworms, the rusty-red fur of a beastman, corpse-salts, etc.

Lord Harald von Deiter (38) - A hard, cruel man. He still remembers his life of frivolity and thrill-seeking, abandoned a decade ago when his father died. Despite this, his love for his daughters is genuine, although he harbours a deep ambivalence about his wife. He offers 500sp to any willing to determine the truth of the murder - during which he was meeting with Bjorn to discuss rumours of activity in Arnake Forest.

  • Lord Harald von Deiter - 38 - a hard, cruel man who abandoned a life of thrill-seeking and frivolities a decade ago when he inherited the estate.
    • Deeply loves his daughters
    • Is ambivalent about his wife.
    • he offers travelling bands questioning him about the murder 100GP ( Holy Writ or no) to determine the truth—such strangeness is beyond his ability to resolve.
    • During the murder he was meeting with Bjorn, discussing the rumours of activity in Arnake Forest.

Lady Tabitha von Deiter (36) - Born in the interior of the empire and raised in a metropolitan city, she is filled with boredom by rural living. Her fancies have been many over the years - slowly converging on the esoteric and occult. This was noticed by powers malign, and after a year of searching she found Grigoret, filled with promise and power. She immediately had him replaced Artur as the children’s tutor - an excuse for him to stay as he further inducts her into the mysteries. Her loyalty to him is total - she reports everything to him at the first opportunity. If questioned about the murder, she is genuinely concerned about the effect it might have on Sophia - but shows little concern for Brunhilde. She shows even less for the victim or Bets, to the point of forgetting their names.

  • Lady Tabitha von Deiter - 36 - born in a far grander foreign city, rural life utterly and completely bores here. Hence her exploration of anything to escape the drudgery—increasingly esoteric and occult matters. She was noticed by servants of such dark powers and, a year ago, Grigoret appeared, making the secret signs Tabitha had learnt would liberate her from boredom. She insisted he replace Artur as the children’s tutor as Grigoret slowly inducts her into the deeper mysteries.
    • Questioned about the murder, she convincingly pretends to be distraught, worrying about its effect on dear Sophia. She will forgets the victim’s name, and avoids being pressed for the name. She demonstrates disregard for Brunhilde or the ramifications amongst Haralds men.
    • After questioning, she relays all interview details to Grigoret.

Sophia von Deiter (10) - The smaller of the twins, ever given to flights of fancy and filled with the arrogance endemic to noble lineages. Showing a stronger aptitude for Grigorets heretical teachings, her aristocratic pride was transmuted into loathing for those ungifted and unawakened to the occult nature of reality. She bewitched Bets into murdering Roger, keen to use her newfound powers. If asked, she bursts into tears and claims to have seen nothing, her back turned. Calmed, she does mention the Brunhilde has always been jealous of her friendship with Bets.

  • Sophia von Deiter - 10 - the slightly smaller twin, Sophia shows a stronger aptitude for Grigoret heretical teachings. He quickly transmuted aristocratic pride Harald instilled into loathing for the ungifted masses. She bewitched Bets into brutally murdering Roger with one of his sorceries.
    • She bursts out into tears and claims to not have seen anything having had her back turned.
    • If calmed, she notes Brunhilde was always jealous of her friendship with Bets.

Brunhilde von Deiter (10) - Taller and more serious than her sister, Brunhilde pines for the liberties of adulthood. She has shown no aptitude for Grigorets teachings, but is jealous of the attention heaped on Sophia by their tutor and mother. Left to her own devices, resentment festering, she paints. Increasingly, she paints Grigoret and Tabitha fusing into a single being, although she cannot say why. She believes Bets could never hurt anyone - to those she trusts, she mentions only that she no longer trusts her sister. She did not see anything, but knows a little of her studies.

  • Brunhilde von Deiter - 10 - slightly taller and somewhat more serious, Brunhilde has shown no aptitude nor interest in Grigoret’s teachings—although jealous of the attention Sophia receives from Grigoret and her mother. In absence of proper tuition, she spends time painting. Her subjects vary wildly, although some seem to be of Grigoret and Tabitha fusing into one. She cannot articulate what any of the paintings mean.
    • She professes Bets’ innocence—he could never hurt anyone.
    • She does not know the truth but suspects Sophia’s involvement.

Matilda (19) - A maid, hailing from Drinharrow. She took this job to escape the brewing political upheaval, sending some small packets of money to her family in !!. She despises Johan, thinking him a brown-nosing lickspittle. She throws herself into her work to not think about the murder.

  • Matilda - 19 - household maid from Drinharrow. Throwing herself into work to avoid thinking about what’s transpired. Despises Johan.

Johan (50) - Severe and dour, laconic in speech, the epitome of butlering. He has run the household since Harald was a boy, and in truth despairs at the steady decline of the property and family. He would never admit to this. If questioned, his priority is to protect the family at all costs - even personal humiliation. If sufficiently convinced that the investigation is for Harald’s best interest, he reveals inconsistencies” in the sleeping arrangements between the Lord and Lady, as well as strange odours lingering after Grigoret’s tuition of the twins.

  • Johan - 50 - the butler and head of the household since Harald was a boy. Severe and dour, the absolute picture of professional butlering.
    • Will deny knowledge of anything and everything—protecting the client at all costs.
    • If sufficiently convinced the investigation is good for Harald, reveals inconsistencies” with the sleeping arrangements as of late, as well as strange odours lingering after the Twins tutelage under Grigoret.

Grigoret (270, appears 60) - A warlock, soul cut up and parcelled out to the Powers Beyond. He seeks a new vessel, his decrepit body twisted by sacrifice and sorcery and time. He allowed himself to be found by Tabitha, knowing her curiosity could not resist what he offered. He has no interest in her - Brunhilde, however, is perfect for his requirements. He deliberately ignores her, stoking the flames of jealousy to make her more easily manipulated. He plans to transfer his mind into her body, denying his unspeakable masters their share for another generation.

When warned of Witch-Hunters, he takes no chances - fleeing for a month, claiming a death in the family which must be attended to instantly. He hides in Drinharrow for this month, laying low.

When unable to flee, he moves quickly. Using foul sorcery, he changes his appearance to that of Harald von Deiter, instructing Tabitha to murder the original, allowing Harald to take his place. He feigns at illness until the Witch-Hunters leave.

Caught unaware and questioned, he claims to be a travelling tutor of the Old School”, lucky enough to find work here and intending to stay here til the twins have finished their learnings. He happily explains his heritage from a lineage of librarians from the distant West. In truth, he remembers nothing of his origins. Regarding the murder, he only expresses sadness at the wasted potential of a young man so clearly bewitched by his own mother.

  • Grigoret (270, appears 60): a warlock, soul blackened and parcelled out to Powers Beyond. He seeks a new vessel, his decrepit body twisted by sacrifice and sorcery. Seeking out those unfulfilled with their lot and found Tabithia— herself of no use to Grigoret; Brunhilde, however, is perfect. He deliberately ignores her, hoping to inflame her with jealousy, opening her up to manipulation—shaping her to become his mind’s new vessel and cheating his unspeakable masters of their share for another generation.
    • If warned of Witch-Hunters, he takes no chances fleeing for a month claiming he must attend to family matters in the West.
    • If not warned, he moves quickly. Using a spell to consume Harald Von Deiter instructing Tabitha to murder him with Grigoret taking his place. Feigning illness and playing at being bed-bound until he feels the coast is clear.
    • If caught unawares and questioned, he claims to be a travelling tutor of The Old School,” who found work here and intends to stay. He claims descent from a family of librarians from the cities of the West. Truthfully, he has long since discarded any memories of home or family.
      • He speaks of great regret and wasted potential regarding Bets. Noting the child was clearly bewitched by the absentee mother.
    • If cornered, he assails the Cryptdiggers with his full magical arsenal.

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