Mr Brownstone and Richard McBeef

I just read the plays supposedly written by the VT killer, Cho Seung-Hui. They’re not great works obviously, but I was surprised by them. It seems Cho was getting a kick out of writing, which is really sad because writing is fun. I’ve taught creative writing. I have an MA in Creative Writing. I’ve been running workshops since 1990, and I’ve seem some bad shit written by supremacist lunatics, but these are not the work of a mad man at the time he wrote them. They’re controlled, and well thought out, and not the work of the gun-toting Seung Cho you see in the tape he sent to Fox, not the work of someone who’s lost his mind. Writing takes massive control, more control than you can imagine, and this is controlled writing.

The plays have good basic elements, they’re linear, they have characters, a dynamic, and the same violence or profanity you’d see on TV. He depicted a crazed step-father, a humiliating mother “pooey pooey son”, a good friendship (John, Jane and Joe), and a mad math teacher.

Cho’s writing was a rational response. Pushing him away from a creative writing class by reporting his subject may have been the big mistake that led to his irrational response. I heard his teachers did report his writing. I wouldn’t have done. His desire to silence his characters is something all writers fight. It’s part of the job. Writing brings powerful emotions to life, and you have to control them. You have to let the characters speak.

Okay, make up your minds. This is an excerpt from Mr Brownstone, the controlled, rational writing of an angry young man battling to let his characters speak. Joe, John and Jane are talking about their math teacher Mr. Brownstone: