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Old 02-19-2013, 01:01 AM   #1
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Dos and Don'ts of writing drug trips?

Hello, I'm trying to write a chapter that involves a drug trip of one of the characters. I haven't read too many drug trips in literature, so I'm wondering if I could get some advice from you all into what you have and have not liked in literature drug trips. Any advice in general would be appreciated.

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Old 02-19-2013, 01:08 AM   #2
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Do drugs (research).

Don't write it while on those drugs.

/sarcasm. Do not do drugs!


It's a drug trip! There's fucking pink elephants eating goats while the world behind them changes in jello. What kind of guidelines were you looking for?

Treat it like a dream. Make sure the reader knows it's a dream, and make sure it's absolutely relevant to the plot. Shorter would be best.


The only drug trip I can think of is the one at the end of The Gunslinger by Stephen King, and even that I got amazing lost and had no clue what the hell was happening absolutely whatsoever.

One of the best I know of is Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, but I haven't read the book. The movie is freaking great, though.
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Old 02-19-2013, 01:09 AM   #3
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Old 02-19-2013, 01:11 AM   #4
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Watch Fantasia.

Or Dumbo.

And/or read, Go Ask Alice
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Old 02-19-2013, 01:13 AM   #5
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Old 02-19-2013, 01:23 AM   #6
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Have to add a third vote for Hunter S. Thompson. He is a master at showing rather than telling.
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Old 02-19-2013, 01:35 AM   #7
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Get to know the effects on the body and mind...know the lingo...understand the pharmacokinetics
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Old 02-19-2013, 01:41 AM   #8
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Do not assume that merely writing a ducked up hallucinatory scene will ring true for the reader
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Old 02-19-2013, 01:45 AM   #9
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There's a good couple of chapters in Chandler's Farewell My Lovely that are, in my opinion, quite well done -- narcotic/booze stuff.

You might could try some William Gibson or Philip K Dick for hallucinatory stuff (either through drugs or artificial strangeness).

Other People by Martin Amis starts with a really excellent derangement of the senses. Give Will Self a read. You could also read the Doors of Perception by Huxley and most anything by Burroughs.

Other than that, Hunter Thompson.

Oh, and take some drugs.
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Old 02-19-2013, 01:47 AM   #10
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Doesn't it depend on the drug? I would think about exaggerating perceived senses, touch, speed, sound, taste, colors, etc.
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Old 02-19-2013, 02:07 AM   #11
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Read Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Listen to The Doors.

Also google for drug stories on the internet. As in, testimonials of drug users.

There is a trick to sounding authentic though: don't oversell it. A trip is often mistaken for reality by the tripper, there are hardly any cartoon pink elephants on parade. Reality often becomes more real, on hallucinogens, rather than unreal things becoming real. Tastes taste better, sounds sound better. Touch feels better. This is why so many people tripping have sex to great music. (I'm not joking. Example: The 60's and 70's.)


Edit: Also get to know your drugs. Heroin is not a hallucinogen, it's a black out - oblivion. Not all 'shrooms are the same. Cocaine does not make you trip (power-trip, maybe, but that's not what we're talking about). Being stoned on pot does not make you trip. Different hallucinogens also work very differently. LSD is different than peyote is different than magic mushrooms. They also work differently on different people.
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Old 02-19-2013, 02:27 AM   #12
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No, no and no again on using HST as an example. I love that guy to death, perhaps my favorite writer of all time, but he was an utterly unique writer, you should not try to write like him. Countless terrible stories and articles about drugs have been written by hacks wanting to emulate his style, and nobody has succeeded. I remember one writer making an apt comparison: HST was to fiction/journalism what Nietzsche was to philosophy: a brilliant man badly misunderstood, and many horrible crimes against humanity/literature have been perpetrated because of those misunderstandings.

If you want my take, I'd say do your research. Not saying you need first-hand experience, but read up on medical information about different psychoactive drugs (assuming that's what you're going for) and what they do the perception. Maybe find writings from somebody with first hand experience who can describe it. Check out a drug forum, there's plenty of those in the web.
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Old 02-19-2013, 02:33 AM   #13
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A friend of mine works as a drug counsellor, and suggested these links when I asked him a similar question:

http://www.erowid.org/
http://blackpoppymag.wordpress.com/

The latter he described as ranging from the inaccurate, to the irresponsible, to the intelligent and articulate. Much as with any research, use your best judgement on what rings true and leave the rest.

Also, this is quite fun: http://nerdatthecooltable.com/2012/0...fter-each-use/

Hope this helps...
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Old 02-19-2013, 02:52 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by onesecondglance View Post
A friend of mine works as a drug counsellor, and suggested these links when I asked him a similar question:

http://www.erowid.org/
http://blackpoppymag.wordpress.com/

The latter he described as ranging from the inaccurate, to the irresponsible, to the intelligent and articulate. Much as with any research, use your best judgement on what rings true and leave the rest.

Also, this is quite fun: http://nerdatthecooltable.com/2012/0...fter-each-use/

Hope this helps...
Thank you for the links. Unfortunately, the pictures are broken for me. Also, I highly suspect that he did not take every drug known to man. I don't think anyone has or even come close.
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Old 02-19-2013, 03:09 AM   #15
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Which drug? There's a lot of them, and they aren't all like LSD and you have to take rather heroic doses of the latter to get something like Fantasia. On the other hand, if you have certain reactions of codeine...

Opium is different from psilocybin is different from LSD is waaaay different from peyote is different from DMT is different from pot brownies is probably different than ayahuasca but none of my anthropology professors were cool enough to get invited to those parties.

If you just default to pink elephants, that's fine--but probably not accurate.

Is this a situation where you expect someone who's actually taken the drug in question to read it? Does their opinion matter to you? Is the accuracy important, or are you willing to hand-wave it?

Me, I had some exciting times in college, but I never saw any pink elephants. (Giant trilobites devouring the moon, now...)

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Old 02-19-2013, 03:16 AM   #16
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Do: Know the actual, known effects of the drug you're writing about. Research as much as you can. Look for descriptions of other people's experiences.

Don't: Assume that because something is "a drug" that it has some extreme, trippy effect, a-la Mason Verger's experience of poppers in Hannibal.


*

Remember the same drug can effect different people different ways. Cannabis might make one person giggle for an age, another pass out, and a third might not notice any effect at all right up to the moment they start throwing up.

Not everyone enjoys the experience they have on a given drug, even if the experience itself doesn't involve a "bad trip". And not everyone having a bad trip reacts badly.

Some people, especially more experienced people, might be aware that they are having a bad trip and try to deal with it. Someone I know once tried to play it cool and hide the fact that they were tripping their balls off while experiencing bleeding walls and spiders. In a pub. Which mostly translated to them trying to pick up a drink very, very slowly and ineptly while doing the drunk person's sober face.

No one says "heavy" any more. No matter how much of a huge stoner they are. Do research appropriate slang and the like for the time period you're writing, and tailor use of it according to the character.
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Old 02-19-2013, 03:31 AM   #17
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As others indicate, what happens depends very strongly on WHAT drug the person takes, as well as how much. By "drug trip" I presume you don't mean just psychoactive (as in it affects one's mind, judgement and perceptions), but psychedelic or hallucinogenic (causing hallucinations), which are the ones usually meant for "tripping." Look up these words in Wikipedia for more info.

Alcohol and marihuana are psychoactive, but they don't (usually) cause hallucinations. LSD or "acid" does. Some claim the use of such drugs gave them special insight, including "seeing God."

Psychedelic drugs can make one's perceptions stray greatly away from reality. Presuming a person is intentionally doing a psychedelic drug for recreational purposes, it's common to have someone not using drugs with them as a babysitter (yes, that's what it's called) to make sure the person tripping doesn't do something dangerous such as setting the house on fire or jumping out a window.
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Old 02-19-2013, 04:49 AM   #18
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Don't get carried away with your research...
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Old 02-19-2013, 05:18 AM   #19
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Doesn't it depend on the drug?
It would. I now imagine his characters are going to roll Ecstasy and suddenly start seeing blood pour from the moon. Or they're doing to run out into the street naked beat up four cops because they smoked pot.
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Old 02-19-2013, 06:22 AM   #20
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It would. I now imagine his characters are going to roll Ecstasy and suddenly start seeing blood pour from the moon. Or they're doing to run out into the street naked beat up four cops because they smoked pot.
Ah, so is that what they're like? You don't mind if I borrow your ideas, do you?
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Old 02-19-2013, 06:39 AM   #21
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Ah, so is that what they're like? You don't mind if I borrow your ideas, do you?
I'm pretty sure Sanoe was joking. That's not how ecstasy and pot affect people.
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Old 02-19-2013, 07:20 AM   #22
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I'm pretty sure Sanoe was joking. That's not how ecstasy and pot affect people.
Pfft. Whatever. Why would someone go on the Internet and make things up like that?
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Old 02-19-2013, 07:25 AM   #23
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I know folks who swear there's nothing better to do than smoke weed, get naked and roll cops
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Old 02-19-2013, 08:18 AM   #24
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It takes so damn many rolling papers per cop, though, and those things aren't as cheap as they used to be. Although I'm told you can use the badge as a roach clip.
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Old 02-19-2013, 08:30 AM   #25
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I've heard of cow-tipping...
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