About James Maxwell

James Maxwell is an author, artist, and actor. He has published over 500 articles (mostly theatre reviews) and approx. 350 cartoons. For the stage, he founded Actor's Ensemble, Director's Theatre, Playwright's, Inc., and Dark Night Theatre. His last three roles were Sade (2006), Tartuffe (2007), and King John (2010. James paints large canvas abstract exressionist paintings,. He is also a phootographer, and a digital artist. He is currently learning how to self-publish a series of e-books for the 9300 jokes, 500 scripts, and 150 short stories he wrote since 2010.

09-15 Don’t Rock the Kayak

Here is one of my short protest skits adapted for a protest of tax-payer money being used to fund a rigged Republican debate.

You have my full permission and encouragement to use it royalty-free.



James Maxwell

The Problem of Purpose

A Fresh Look at Fables, Parables, and Tales

Dateline: Boulder

As some of you know, I’m senior auditing a creative writing course at the University of Colorado (much thanks to my instructor, Ansley Clark). I’m warming up to my fifth collection of short stories, this time not limited to flash fiction, but rather themed around fables, parables and ancient tales.

I’m attaching on of my new stories (I wrote it today) for your review:

The Problem of Purpose


James Maxwell

Parasite-Predator-Symbiot Plot Twists

Using Organic Archetypes

Dateline Boulder

When last I posted, I was just beginning to research relationship strategies with one’s environment (nature, in this case.)

I found three classic views of how any life (anywhere it is known to exist.) relates to its environment. All three are seen in light of there feeding strategies. Hey, we all got to eat!

The three classic social relationships are:

  • Predator/Prey (Feeding upon the dead carcases.)
  • Parasite/Host (From the Greek, “Living Beside”)
  • Symbiot/Partner (Cooperating with another species for mutual gain.)

Here is one of my over-arching story plots using these relationships. Please note that it is way too early to tell this story with connections to our lives – this is a real symbiotic relationship told with plot twists (to keep the audience interested.):

A Tree Grows, by James Maxwell

There is a parasite feeding on the energy of a tree. (Parasite/Host)

In defense, the tree experiments with creating and releasing new chemicals in hopes of weakening the parasite.

However, instead of repulsing the parasite, the tree has attracted a second, more dangerous parasite.

Meanwhile, the original parasite discovers a taste for the new arrival and begins finding means of attacking it in addition to  feeding upon the tree (Predator/Prey).

Eventually, the original parasite eats more of the new parasite and sucks less of the tree’s energy. The tree grows healthy again and now encourages the original parasite. (Symbiot/Partner).

In gratitude for a better source of energy, the original parasite begins to farm the second parasite (it was the tree’s idea), keeping just enough alive to ensure next season’s feast. (Predator/Prey between parasites and Symbiot/Partner with tree.)

I like this plot because the agents of their story change their strategies as their environment changes. They do not remain locked into even their nature, but “adapt” and evolve as their world changes – sometimes very rapidly.


James Maxwell

Enter a Speculative Fiction

Symbiosis leads to Metamorphosis

Dateline Boulder:

I’ve been doing research on parasites as represented in fiction – with the ¬†original idea of turning this concept to represent the oligarchs who feed on the labor of others – as opposed to the current common sense of parasite – he that feeds on those who work.

My ironic idea was that the true parasite is the oppressor who feeds on all other humans.

However, as I began my research I came upon a definition of the classical forms of life and their relationship to the natural world.

The three forms that can be found everywhere life is to be found are:

  • Parasitism – those that do no work today, but feed harmlessly on others.
  • Predation – those that attack others and feed directly on their dead carcasses.
  • Symbiosis – those that create relationships with others and survive via mutual support.

It is interesting to note that wherever the predators have gained dominance, the adaptors (symbiosis) must become invisible in order to survive. In Jungian psychology, they might be considered to be archetypes of the collective unconscious, or perhaps (due to the symbiosis) better be described as an aggregate of shadows.

It should also be noted that whenever the predators have gained dominance, they leave enough of the parasites around so that they have a constant source of food. The goal of the parasite, meanwhile, is to replace the oppressor with themselves – thus becoming an oppressor themselves, continuing the cycle – a pure didactic relationship

My goal now, however is to create a story world (a speculative fiction story world) in which the life represented within the fiction, contains all three classes of life, two of which are in constant battle (the oppressor and the oppressed), while the third (symbiosis) continues their metamorphosis (natural selection and adaptation) created through constantly seeking – and finding – new symbiotic relationships with other life forms. Once the relationship is established, evolution occurs!

I still like the idea of traveling through time via one’s DNA, but it has now expanded to contain predator influences, parasitical influences and symbiotic influences – all in the form of attached genetic structure (just as science tells us it happens now with inherited diseases.)

I think it important to include all three because what I see outside myself must also exist within me (What is without is also within – as though a mirror of oneself.)

My “witticism:” I love to let my mind have its way with me, is the recognition that I have all three types of life force within me and they are more powerful in shaping how I think than what I’ve learned from today’s metaphorical “climate” (which changes constantly).


James Maxwell

PS: in order to explore this fully i am once again detaching myself from other worldly concerns. Events in Europe, Asia, Africa, the Middle-East and here at home must take a leave of absence from my consideration (I don’t have much of value to contribute, anyway.) so that I can exercise ironic detachment in order to let my collective unconscious assist me unfettered by those archetypical aggregates of shadows that seek to keep me preoccupied with didactic concerns. When that which is in constant warfare within becomes quiet, that which seeks symbiosis will rise to the surface. My metamorphosis is at stake here, after all – that’s why I write.

Working on Volume One of Dialogue Jokes

Dialogue Jokes intended for the writers of scenes.

Dateline Boulder:

Here’s what I like about dialogue jokes:

  • Each dialogue joke is a complete story
  • Each story contains a plot imitating the action of the agents of the story
  • The agents of the story tell the entire story without the assistance of a narrator

Here’s what I don’t like about dialogue jokes:

  • All jokes teach people it’s better to be the oppressor
  • All jokes are painful or cruel on some level
  • Jokes are embedded onto the agents of the story making it sometimes difficult to “see” the original character – try to remove the joke and the character disappears too.

I write only about compassion, so I chose jokes to have something to work against.

Here’s a sample from my Penny-a-Joke cartoon:

  • I’d like a Boulder 420 Breakfast, please.
  • What’s that?
  • A bowl packed with your finest cannabis, a Rib Eye Steak, and a bulldog.
  • What’s the bulldog for?
  • Somebody’s got to eat that steak.


James Maxwell

Volume Four Completes Up the Alley

What began as a writing exercise is now a published four-volume epic novel written entirely in flash fiction.

Dateline Boulder: June 18, 2014

It’s done, it’s done, it’s done!

Here’ s my Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00L3L1EW8

And here is my book’s fan page: https://www.facebook.com/UptheAlley (likes are always appreciated on the fan page)

Although the story is about a seedy coffee shop catering to the homeless, it experiments with an over-arching non-didactic structure that I believe creates community.


James Maxwell

A Fable Deconstructed

Turgenev provides the structure

Dateline: Boulder

I seem to be creating a new methodology. I am sequentially writing stories based on the fables I find in Laura Gibbs translation titled, Aesop’s Fables.

Aristotle said when you change the structure of a story, you change its purpose, implying the purpose of any story is defined by its structure.

So, what does this have to do with the new “purpose” of the story?

I haven’t a clue – which means it’s probably staring me right in the face.

At any rate, since I approach all my writing as the next era in my learning to write by writing exercise book (created as i go), I’m finding immense satisfaction with the source material in the fables.

For example, each is tightly constructed to maximize meaning within a well-structured format. Nothing is wasted and typically each sentence has multiple meanings. The paragraphs, when deconstructed, take on additional significance at each turn.

Also, since I’m learning to write in the super intimate first-person eye-witness account style, my thought process is also beginning to change to match that voice and that way of observation.

This voice has one incredible rule (it probably has many, but only one that always requires observation: the story must be told by a survivor – if a character dies in the story, he can’t be telling the story.

Stories are told by survivors in an eye-witness perspective – in a historical account shared intimately with a single reader.

Here is the first draft of the rewrite of Fable 6 (Gibbs, Pg. 6): The Donkey, the Priests, and the Tambourines:

Begging for Alms


James Maxwell