Free eBook on Writing Sex, Violence, Humor and Foul Language

WHLH Difficult

You don’t have to be a successful standup comedian to write convincing humor. In fact, you don’t even need a keen sense of humor. And you don’t have to worry about your sex scenes turning into pornography once you know the difference between romance, eroticism and pornography.

Humor, sex, violence and foul language are elements of writing that can cause problems for writers. How much violence is too much, or too little? Where do you draw the line with profane language even when you have a character based on a real-life person whose foul language almost obscures everything they say?

Four of the sessions in my Writing Hurts Like Hell workshop deal with these topics. This little ebook presents those sessions along with some exercises to help you tackle these problems in your writing.

You can download the ebook free in the Free Stuff section of my website.


Messages in Bottles


Each day, I sit by the window and let another bottle slip from my hands to slide across the shingles, over the eavestrough and into that vast labyrinth of sidewalks and streets that form the downtown core of the metropolis of Freddie Beach. Each day, a tear rips loose from my eye and splashes soundlessly onto the glass surface of the bottle, like breaking a bottle of Champagne against a bottle of words that will sail into nowhere.

The bottles contain messages that will never be read, words that will never be bonded to vision and the cognitive process. The messages are earnest in their meanings: “Help! I’m being held prisoner for my own good!” “I’m following my doctor’s orders, for god’s sake! I’m following the orders!”

I don’t know where the bottles go but I assume there’s a pile of broken glass beneath the window and under an eave that juts out just far enough that I can’t see where the bottles land. I’ve yet to hear the shattering of glass, so maybe something beyond gravity and the things I expect is happening here.

And maybe it’s the drugs.

Have I mentioned that my body survived the 60s but my brain didn’t? It’s true. And it wasn’t just the drugs, it was the experience, the exposure to new ways of looking at old things. That, in itself was the most potent drug of the 60s. That iota of a second in which you realize that the only  thing that’s making you shave today is your refusal to believe that it’s your face can you don’t have to do anything to it that you don’t want to do. For some, that’s a small decision; for others, it’s a career changer.

Seems to me that many of us spend our lives putting messages into bottles and launching them into the safety of god-knows-where.

And that pretty much sums up everything I have to say about the drugs.

Write for Your Life, Biff Mitchell, Write for Your Life

I’ve lost track of the days. It feels like that time I blinked and missed it all, it seems like re-reading Atlas Shrugged and forgetting what page I’m on – over and over. A kind of existential medium is the message. I’ve lost track of my mind. I’m staring at ice patterns on the window.

Steph hat-5

Stephanie is watching me, waiting for me to do something the doctor told me not to do, waiting for me to make a dash for the window and the fire escape, waiting for me to breathe too deeply. She takes the doctor’s orders seriously.

She just found Monte Python’s Life of Brian on Netflix and she’s going to play it. She can quote every word from Life of Brian and Search for the Holy Grail. I’ve seen her do it. It takes true talent and a good memory to memorize an entire movie and recite it convincingly, being all the characters at any moment in all their moods and all their little fears and fantasies.

And she can do this for two movies.

Before she put the movie on, she made a strange request. She said, “I want you to write a story.”

I said, “A story?”

She said, “Yes, Biff, and when you finish writing the story…I want you to write another story. And then another story, and another.”

“But the doctor said…”

“The doctor wants you to write stories, Biff. One story after another. Only through writing stories will you heal.”

Suddenly, I was suspicious. Something wasn’t right here. Something was awry. It was like everything in my world had shifted almost imperceptibly a few pixels to the left. It reminded me of a story I’d written a few years ago for one of the Twisted Tails anthologies called The Man Who Was a Few Pixels Out.

And that’s when it hit me. Twisted Tails. The insidious soul-eating J Richard Jacobs was somehow involved in all this. J Richard Jacobs, scourer of the perverse literary horizon and nemesis of all things sane and merciful in the dank corridors of writers’ hearts and minds. J Richard Jacobs, EDITOR, was on the loose again and the game was on.

Somehow he’d taken over Stephanie’s mind and this was going to bode ill for me, the lowly writer. I screamed: “Steph! J has taken over your mind!”

Her eyes were devoid of humanity and caring as she stared into my eyes and said, “No, Biff, I’m doing this all on my own. You will follow the doctor’s orders or I will kill you. It’s all for your own good.” She patted me on the head and went into the kitchen to make graffiti salad and somehow the world seemed to be a safer place to live.

Tomorrow, I’ll tell you about the drugs I’m on to carry me safely and sanely through the recovery.

The Party

So Christmas is over for another year. Seems like just yesterday that I was unfriending people for starting Christmas countdowns in August. Stephanie is looking for one of her cats. Here’s a picture of one of her cats:


This isn’t the missing cat. This is Mia. I couldn’t get a picture of the other one because it’s, um, missing. But then, I’ve always felt that all cats are one cat and one picture of a cat is a picture of all cats. It has something to do with the eyes. Or maybe in the shadows they cast.


As I mentioned yesterday, Stephanie had a party last night and I was the entertainment. Everyone sat in uncomfortable chairs and guzzled martinis while I smoked strong French cigarettes and told socially insensitive jokes.

Every once in a while someone would yell, “Show us your staples!” and I would turn around, pull up my shirt  and show off my staples. Everyone pointed  and told staple jokes and yelled, “Merry Christmas, Biff!”

It was very strange.

But I didn’t run or sell pencils in the street, nude, so Stephanie didn’t kill me.

Always a good party when nobody kills you.

Selling Pencils in the Street, Naked

It’s been five days and Steph still hasn’t killed me. Either I haven’t been too annoying or I’m doing everything the doctor said I should do.

And not do.

Those are the things that brought me here. When I told Steph that they would be cutting lower half of my left lung out because there was an alien life form growing there, she said, “You’re staying at my place after the surgery.”

I said, “I’ll be fin…”

“You’re staying at my place after the surgery. I know you. You’ll go for runs, dance jitterbug with your imaginary friends, go back to selling pencils on the streets…naked. You’ll do these things the day after you get out.”

I laughed and, in my most reassuring voce said, “Oh come..”

“You’re staying at my place. You’ll do everything the doctor tells you to do. You’ll do it all on time. And no jitterbugging…or I’ll kill you.”


And so here I am. At my best friend’s place. Living in fear that I might accidentally jitterbug or sell pencils in the street, naked. It’s been five days, so it looks like the fear has kept me alive. And now it’s time to blog. Didn’t want to start earlier, like right after the surgery, because I figured I’d be more inclined to just write three or four paragraphs of  “Ouch ouch ouch…” or “Can you please make the stop? Please make it stop. Pretty please make it…” as opposed to something insightful like, “Help! My best friend’s holding me prisoner until I get better!” I mean, that just sounds weird.

So, Steph is having a party tonight and I’m the entertainment. I’m going to show off my stitches and people are going to laugh and point and say healing things like, “Ha Ha, Biff! That’ll teach you go smoke.” and “Gee, Biff…how do they get those staples out?” There’re a lot of staples:


(Photo by Stephanie Diana Durelle)

We’re all going to roll around on the floor laughing and giggling. Except me. I’m not allowed to roll around on the floor. If I do, Steph will kill me. For my own good.

Let you know how the party turned out tomorrow.

100 People, 10 Bats and 1 Cat Blowing Up – The Final Episode (More Than Just the Candles)

(Previously, the fireworks were the least of Lucy and Daniel’s problems. And a cat got blown up. Today, Wilbur and Amanda get to be the last two people blown up. And, apparently, it’s all Wilbur’s fault.)

Today’s gratuitous photo is leaves in a tree. I mean, where else?)

Leaves copy

“Honestly, Amanda, this isn’t what I had it mind.” It was impossible to say where Wilbur’s words came from, their source and their direction. Wilbur wasn’t Wilbur anymore. Amanda wasn’t Amanda. And it really didn’t matter what Wilbur had in mind. Both were ingredients in a fiery stew of atomic displacement, their atoms reeling and doing things that were considered abnormal in polite society. But then, polite society was pretty much no more as well.

“This is not my idea of a good time.” Amanda’s words were equally as puzzling as Wilbur’s. Where did they come from? Amanda is no more. Who was listening. Wilbur is no more. Didn’t Amanda and Wilbur have bigger things to worry about? Shouldn’t what’s left of their words be wrapped around prayers or something?

“I wanted this to be a romantic experience for both of us,” denoted Wilbur from everywhere and nowhere. “That’s why I filled the house with candles. It took me half an hour to light them all.”

“And now look at us.” As though there was anything recognizable enough to look at.

“But, Amanda, I honestly don’t think this had anything to do with the candles.”

“Just like you, Wilbur, never take responsibility for your actions.”

The disdain in Amanda’s words burned into whatever flux of consciousness Wilbur had become like an existential slap to his disintegrating selfness. “But this is not what candles do, Amanda. Not even a house full of candles. This is not what it feels like to be burned to death by candles burning a house down. This is definitely something else.”

“And how would you know what it feels like to be burned to death by candles, Wilbur. You’ve never been burned to death by candles. I would have known about it.”

“No, Amanda, I’ve never been burned to death by candles. But I’ve imagined being burned to death by candles. I imagined it while I was a lighting all the candles. After half an hour of lighting candles, you begin to have odd thoughts. And I can tell you right know, Amanda, this is not what it feels like to be burned to death by candles. This is something else.”

“This is YOU, Wilbur. This is another one of your failures. My mother told me you would do this some day. She warned me. “You’ll just get burned if you…


And that’s it. I blew up 100 people, 10 bats and 1 cat. But once you start blowing people up, it becomes kind of a thing to do…like eating a whole cheese cake in one sitting because it’s cheese cake and there’s still some left so you eat it. But I’m currently writing a short story that keeps getting longer as I write it (as in, it should have ended a few thousand words ago) called “Everything Sucks.” When it’s finished, I think I’ll blow up another 100 people. And 10 of something. And 1 of something else.

In the meantime, I have some really crazyass novels at Amazon.

100 People, 10 Bats and 1 Cat Blowing Up – Episode 27 (Those Irritating Fireworks)

(Previously, Cora kind of regretted not getting her project sent off in time, but the coffee was good. Today, the fireworks are the least of Lucy and Daniel’s problems. And, Alvin, the cat bites the dust. As promised in the title.)

Today’s gratuitous photo is a lonely child’s shoe. Sometimes, I feel a deep sense of joy in knowing that I’m not a shoe.)

Shoe lost-2 copy

Alvin screeched and shot straight up into the air, fur standing on end, claws tearing at the air and, oh, that awful cat-terror screech. This had a domino effect. Lucy poured half a cup of green tea onto her white blouse and Daniel’s lighter missed his cigarette enough to set his mustache of fire. The walls of the Mueller home resounded with screeches of terror and pain.

Outside the huge Mueller living room picture window, the sky exploded with color. A burst of glittering red showered the sky with scarlet comets that in turn burst into a shower of smaller comets. Behind the red, a golden mushroom exploded into the sky with an ear-shattering BOOM. Not three seconds after Alvin landed on the floor, he was clawing up Lucy’s tea sodden white blouse leaving a trail of blood spots where his claws tore through the blouse and into Lucy’s skin. Lucy shrieked. Alvin crouched on top of her head, claws digging into her forehead causing tiny rivulets of blood to stream down over her eyebrows. Seven feet away, Daniel slapped his face vigorously, trying to put out the flame in his mustache.

Half an hour later, Lucy and Daniel sat in their cozy arm chairs fuming. The bandages on Lucy’s forehead showed signs of blood spotting. The left side of Daniel’s upper lip glistened with salve. Alvin crouched in a corner of the room, glaring at life.

“I don’t understand what they get out of it,”said Daniel, both arms prone on the arms of the chair. “They send a bunch of colored lights into the sky and make a lot of ungodly noise.”

“It’s what they do here and it’s a…a nuisance,” said Lucy, both arms wrapped around her chest, as though hunkering down for an attack. “A damn nuisance.”

“They pollute the air with chemicals and noise,” said Daniel indignantly. “Waste of time and money.”

“And they do it every year.”

“All that noise.”

“And it can’t be good for children’s eyes.”

“And their necks…all that looking up…straining the muscles.”

“And the noise. Poor Alvin.” Though, there was a trace of insincerity in Lucy’s voice as she tightened her grip around her chest, still in pain from the clawing from Alvin.

“We may have to get help for Alvin.” Daniel looked at Alvin, eyes fomenting sympathy. “I’ve heard that traumatic episodes like this can scar animals for life.”

“And think of all the children…all those poor children waking up horrified from their sleep to the sound of that thunder. I don’t even want to think about what it does to infants.”

“Thank God it’s just once a year.”

“It shouldn’t even be once a year. Maybe once every hundred years.”

“On a desert island.”

“Far away from here.”

“Far away from the children.”

“And the infants.”

“And Alvin.” Daniel cocked his head to the side and squinted his eyes.

“What is it, dear?” said Lucy.

“I’m not sure, my dear. Did you hear something?”

“I don’t think so…” Lucy suddenly squinted her eyes. “I think…”

Alvin thrust his head up. His eyes widened into white circles.

“I think they’ve gone a bit far this time,” said Daniel’s mouth as it rocketed away from his head.

“The nerve of those…” said Lucy as her words evaporated into the rush of fire.

“What the fuck now?” thought Alvin in whatever language cats thought in as they turned into nuclear steam.


For more crazy writing by Biff Mitchel, visit Amazon.