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Finding a balance between the magical and the mundane

The setting serves as the backdrop to the story. When you tell a story. What you are doing is building a world for people to inhabit and grow into. The fantasy genre has a lot of great settings. Consider, for example, Middle Earth, the setting for Lord Of The Rings. It has enough fantastic and unknown elements, Orcs, Goblins, Magic, and so forth, to make it interesting and intriguing to the audience, while still been grounded enough in the known and mundane to make it believable so that the audience can invest emotionally in the characters.

Look at Sam from Lord Of The Rings. He’s a character deeply rooted in the mundane aspects of being Frodo’s Gardner, but as time goes on he is able to blossom into the ring bearers extraordinary protector and stick with Frodo until his task is done. Sam wouldn’t be as compelling without the grounding that his setting and occupation provide him. But he’s not boring either.
How does one go about striking Tolkien’s balance between the magical and the mundane?
its a question to ponder isn’t it?

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Psychology Of Characters.

A handicapped Symbol superimposed on a Ying/Yang symbol under which are the words Acceptance Or Ambivalence.
A handicapped Symbol superimposed on a Ying/Yang symbol under which are the words Acceptance Or Ambivalence.

I am coming to believe that a good writer needs to be a good psychologist too. A writer needs to clearly understand what motivates his characters and spurs them to action. If he wants to do that successfully, he must understand what motivates himself. After all good characters are a reflection of the writer.

I often feel conflicted about many aspects of my life. It is best illustrated in the picture above. The disabled person is caught between the conflicted forces of yin and yang, good and bad. They’re good and bad things to a disability which cause me to feel conflicted about having one. I vacillate toward acceptance or ambivalence. My characters help me straighten out my feelings.

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Conflict

Conflict, It the bedrock of Drama. Drama is a contradiction. It can bring pain and fear, but, it also makes life interesting. Interest and engagement brings us excitement and pleasure. That’s why we read novels or, watch plays an TV shows. It seems to me, that we, as human beings, gravitate towards drama even as we try to avoid it. We like to experience drama vicariously but not as much directly. Like it or not, drama is a part of life.
I deal with a lot of drama in my life. Some of it is forced on me by circumstance, but, some of it is internal and comes from myself. I’ve struggled with certain aspects of myself for most of my life. I deal with Cerebral Palsy. It is a disability that makes it difficult to walk, talk hold things, and move, that can make easy things hard and hard things harder. I hate it, truly hate. They’re are times when i have begged, literally begged, every god and spirit that has ever called to the human soul to change me. I know what anger is because of Cerebral Palsy, I know what fear is because of Cerebral Palsy, I know what frustration and jealousy are, because of Cerebral Palsy It also teaches good things: Patience, empathy, humor, perseverance, and non-linear thinking.
As much as I hate it, I say ‘hate it’ because its the closest phrase I can think of to describe my feelings about the matter, I’m also aware that I wouldn’t be the person I am, without Cerebral Palsy. You can see where internal conflict arises.

So, how do I deal with this internal conflict? Its difficult. Sometimes, it gets the better of me. Each challenge I have to face molds my self-image as sculptor molds clay. I get to know myself through each challenge I face. I have found that writing is a great outlet for voicing things things that I can’t externalize verbally for one reason or another.
I am writing about an Elf who is an outsider. He must live in a world that isn’t made for him. By the end of the story, he learns that if he wants to succeed, he must turn what he perceives as his weakness into his strength. When he does that, his inner conflict resolves itself. Maybe, if I can do that, my own inner conflict will likewise resolve itself.

Posted in Writing

Try Not! Do, or do not!

The greatest stories contain life lessons It was true of our ancient myths and it is true of popular culture today. Star Wars, for example, has always been my favorite movie. My favorite Star Wars character has always been Master Yoda. One of Yoda’s most memorable lines was, “No! Try not! Do, or do not. There is no try!” Have any of you ever stopped to consider what that means? I think Master Yoda said it to try to get Luke Skywalker to banish self doubt from his mind and concentrate all of his effort on his task in the present moment. I will put it another way. If I say, “I’ll try” that means I don’t truly believe I can succeed. When I don’t succeed I can give myself an out by saying “I tried” It doesn’t matter if you’re learning the ways of The Force, or publishing a novel, this lesson can still apply.

I am not going to “try” to publish a novel. If I think of it that way, the task will be big daunting. Instead, I will break the task down into manageable tasks and do what I am able to do. This is what I will do to publish my book.

1. Write more stories to hone my craft.

2. Read more and notice things that other writers do and use their techniques to improve my own manuscript.

3 Have other people edit my work.

4 Research publishing companies and other avenues.

5. Persevere, don’t give up.

May The Force Be With Me. There’s lots to do.

Posted in Writing

What is a writing style?

A writing style allows the writer to infuse their work with their own personality and stamp. They’re four basic writing styles:

1. Expository- The writer is telling you about a certain subject and leaves their opinion out of it. Many how to books are written this way.

2. Descriptive- Descriptive writing focuses a great deal on describing scenes and characteristics vividly.

3. Persuasive- The writer is trying to convince you of an argument or point.

4. Narrative- The writer is telling a story: This happened then that happened. The internet is a repository of information on the styles of writing.

I was taught that writing was more then beginning with a capital letter and ending with a period. Good writing takes you somewhere, tells you something. The book that really taught me to write, and write well, was a book called Hatchet by Gary Paulson. I first encountered this book in fourth grade when my teacher read it to us, and then again, in sixth grade, when I had to write a book report on the book. The writing of that report was a frustrating and trying experience that hacked and cut at my writing skills, and sometimes even my self esteem wit the efficiency of well, a hatchet. But, throughout the eight drafts I wrote of that damn report, I began to see my writing skills grow, mature, and flourish, like a flower in springtime.
The book is about a 13 year old boy named Brian who is dealing with the pain of his parents’ newly ordered divorce. While flying one summer to visit his father in the Canadian wilderness, Brian’s plane crashes on the shore of an L shaped lake. The only thing he has to help him survive is the hatchet his mother gave him when they part at the airport. He has the hatchet, and himself.

Brian was alone by himself for most of the book. He has very little dialog and the obstacles he confronts are the ones he puts in front of himself. Don’t those make for the best kind of Drama? The exposition in this book is vivid and consuming. I suppose, I have assimilated Mr. Paulson’s vivid, narrative writing style and incorporated it into my own prose. Hatchet is one of the things that gave me the courage to write a novel. Thank you, Mr. Paulson.

Posted in Writing

The Advent of Inspiration: Meeting with Melpomne.

Where does inspiration come from? I don’t think anybody knows for sure. But there are some theories. The ancient Greeks were the forerunners of the arts. The believed that humans were inspired by the nine daughters of Zeus. They spurred mortal to do great, or terrible thing by influencing the course of their lives. These goddesses could use several thing as an impetus for change. I visited with Melpomne, the muse of tragedy, or at least, I thought it was a tragedy.
Have you ever worked hard for something in life? Worked really hard for it? Thought you wanted it, and then, realized it wasn’t what you wanted after all? Well, something like that happened to me, it was truly one of the most terrifying, experiences of my life. It altered forever, the way I viewed myself, and the world.
All of my life people have said that I am a very creative person,even artistic. But, for some reason, I never really being artistic, as an asset, I never thought that art paid the bills. To pay the bills, you had to be technical. I new one thing for certain, I wanted to be considered ‘Normal’ For a number of years, since I was born with Cerebral Palsy I know that having a disability can be hard, and I wanted to be considered Normal by those around me. So, for a number of years, I did what “Normal” people, I went to school, I had friends, I learned and I grew. During these years, I learned to accept people, and people learned to accept me. I graduated high-school and college as well.
When college was over over, it was time for me accept the responsibilities of a “normal” adult. I thought that being a Normal adult meant finding a job living on my own, etc. My undergraduate degree was in Psychology. Graduate school was not in the cards, and I could not find a job on Psychology. So, I decided to take classes at a community college while continuing to look for paid work.
I didn’t plan it, but, I ended up receiving an AA degree in Web multimedia Authoring. This meant that I learned to make webpages on the internet. I had always liked computers they’ve always been a pathway to independence for me. But the problem I encountered with the internet was the technology changed quickly, too quickly for me too keep up. Also, i developed pages slowly. They usually got finished, but they took a long time. It was hard for me to stick to a schedule. So, taking jobs for clients filled me with anxiety that i couldn’t quite seem to get rid of no matter how hard I tried. Yet, I persevered. If there’s one thing a disability teaches someone, it is the value of perseverance. I persevered and my skills grew somewhat.
During May of 2014. I was finally hired as a webmaster for a non-profit organization, for money. Finally! I had what I always wanted! It didn’t take long for the anxiety I had always felt to overwhelm me. But, I persevered because I finally had what I needed to be “Normal.” Yay for me! My anxiety got worse and developed into panic attacks. Eventually, I developed an “acute depressive episode”
Ever since I was young, I have felt that the only thing I really could control was my feelings, and my attitude towards the things that happened to me. Depression took that from me. I became obsessed with my job, I was always working on at the computer, but I wasn’t getting anything done. I became a frightened bitter, angry person, a person I didn’t want to be. My dream had become a nightmare, a tragedy.
So, this was “Normal?” Being normal sucked! I finally had what I always wanted yet, I felt awful. I felt farther away from normal as I could be! I decided to seek counseling to see if I could start feeling better.
It was about four sessions into my counseling sessions when something occurred to me, being Normal doesn’t necessarily mean having a paying job or your own house. That’s because being normal is not an objective state. Normality is a subjective state. It is different for everyone person. That means a person is normal, when they are happy with themselves. So, with that knowledge in mind, I told myself “Okay, stop thinking about what you need to reach an arbitrary standard set by somebody else, and start thinking about want you want to make yourself happy.” I remembered my time telling stories as a child, as soon as as the thought crossed my mind. I heard a voice: “Its about time.” I ended up choosing to quit my paid position and becoming a volunteer. This gave me time to write. I’m happier with myself now than, I have been in a long time.
Tragedy has been a staple of Greek drama, after meeting with Melpomne, and going through her machinations, the characters are endowed with knowledge and experiences they never expected. My own meeting meeting with Melpomne, compelled me to do something thought I would. She compelled me to change my definition of “Normalcy” Once that happened, I was inspired to hear Gendar’s voice and write his story. If I hadn’t gone through all the trouble with depression, I wouldn’t have been compelled to give writing a serious chance. Writing has allowed me to explore my authentic self. It is something I can do with minimal help some authentic self is coming through these words when you read them, you are hearing me, instead of others who may have to help me. That makes me happy.
Art imitates life. The central lesson of any Greek tragedy from Oedipus to the Illiad, is that obstacles and hardship beget strength. Meeting with Melpomne brings strength knowledge and will perhaps eventually, inspire the hero to grow and do things he never thought possible. Meeting with Melpomne has certainly done that for me.

Posted in Writing

Avoiding Plagirisim

I am a beginning writer, I don’t have a lots of experience writing. I have read a lot of ideas and influences. I believe I have taken them and distilled them into an a concept and Idea that is uniquely mine. But,  if there things like, Joseph Campel’s Monomyth or Christopher Booker’s, The Seven Basic Plots One must ask oneself, “Are there truly any original stories?” If that is true, how can someone truly have an original idea? How can you be sure you are not unintentionally stealing somebody else’s idea? How can you protect yourself from plagiarism?

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What makes a good story?

Story telling is a fascinating and compelling art. It is a cross-cultural phenomenon that can speak to everyone regardless of culture or station. Stories speak to our shared humanity and are capable of drawing people together in way that is memorable and lasting. Why? what makes a good story?
I think that a story needs four things in order to grab the attention of an audience and hold their attention long enough to speak to them: A hero, A Villan, a setting and a Task. Every one of them is important to the story. Here’s Why:
1. The Hero- This is the character stuff to whom stuff happens He, She they or it, usually start out as insignificant or nobody. through the course of a the story, the hero usually rises from mediocrity to excellence, and gains the wisdom and maturity to solve their own problems and lead their own life. Every hero, from luke Skywalker to Gilgamesh, follows more or less the same path.

2. The Villan- The Villan is arguably the most important element of the story. Everything precedes from The Villan. Without him, her, or it, there is no task for the hero to perform, no ‘wrong’ for him to correct. Without Lex Luthor, Lois Lane, has no reason to get herself in trouble, and Clark Kent has no reason to take off his glasses. Without Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker has no reason to leave Tattooine. The stronger The Villan, the stronger, The Hero.

3. The Setting- The Hero and Villan cannot exist in a vacuum because their actions must effect the world around them. The more the audience knows about the world the characters inhabit, the more they will be able to empathize with them. The audience will become emotionally invested in the story.

4. the Task. The hero and Villan, needs to do something. Something that effects the world around them, for good, or ill. It works best, if the hero and villan are at cross purposes, this creates conflict, which is the main ingredient in drama. For example, Lois Lane see Lex Luthor, Rob a Bank. Lois wants to give evidence to the police to put Lex in jail. Lex doesn’t want to go to jail, so he must endanger Lois to prevent the police from obtaining her evidence. It falls to Superman to protect Lois from Lex’s plan. The successful, or unsuccessful completion of the task will have consequences for the characters’ world.
If a story has these four elements working together, the audience will remember and maybe even enjoy it!

Posted in Writing

Why I Write.

“Why do you write?” I would think that every writer gets asked this question. I would think that the answer is different for every person. For me, the answer is simple. I didn’t have a great deal of choice. Story telling has been a part of my life since Ms Savage’s kindergarten class. I used to sit there and think them up, and the teachers aid would write them down. Over they years, I’ve let the flames of imagination smolder under the bushel of real world expectations. One evening in 2011,I started hearing a voice, it spoke me and Identified itself as Gendar, an Elf. He absolutely demanded that I write his story. Why me? I don’t know. I tried to put him off, I tried to deny him, but that green Elf all two foot five inches of him, sneaked into my mind and stayed there. He took up residence in my head like an annoying roommate and simply would not shut up until I wrote down his story. When I tried to quiet him for but a single moment, he just got louder. Some people just have to be the center of attention.

After three years, Gendar’s story has finally been committed to paper, or at least, word processor. But that little green elf still isn’t satisfied. Now, he insists on try to publish his manuscript! “Do you know how hard that is?” I demanded of him, I don’t care!” he said, “Do it anyway!” and that was that. Elves are very bossy aren’t they? So that’s where we are It may take years, But I am on the road to publication. It may take years, but I am following this road because a little Elf says I must. I will write about our journey on this site. from editing, to finding an agent, and if all goes well, publication in one form or another. Why not? Sometimes, even if the odds are long, you have to take a chance on yourself. One more thing, at the end of the road, my name is going on the cover, I don’t care what that bossy little jerk says.