Commitment

Commitment to a goal is a key part of fiction. The main character will stop at nothing to reach that goal which might be clear from the beginning or unfold over time. It might multiply or narrow down, and seem unattainable at times. The protagonist may even lose sight of it, but her/his commitment to reaching it will fuel the story especially as problems arise and challenge the desired outcome.

The Lord of the Rings trilogy is one story in particular that comes to mind when I think of an intense and undying commitment to a goal.

 

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Beauty

How significant is beauty when considering a protagonists attributes?

At this moment I can’t think of a novel that the protagonist didn’t possess some form of beauty.

Katniss is a kick-butt competitor who doesn’t need outer physical beauty to achieve her goals. Yet I’m pretty sure there was no doubt even before Jennifer Lawrence’s portrayal that she was physically attractive..

Harry Potter was initially geeky, skinny and wild haired. There is reference to his awkwardness but as I remember he was never described as hideous. He certainly has an inner beauty (handsomeness) that makes him a desirable friend and a protagonist readers want to see prevail.

Many protagonists have visions of themselves as less than they are, but most of the time a secondary character will point out that she/he has no idea the beauty they possess.

Gone Girl is a great example of outer beauty vs an ugly heart. **Stop reading here if you haven’t read the book and plan to.** I don’t believe this story could have ever been pulled off if she hadn’t had outer beauty to manipulate the situation.

Can you think of a story that strips the protagonist of all beautiful attributes?

 

Attitude

  

I pulled an April Fool’s joke on myself — I never took my first day of A to Z out of draft. Ha!

So A to Z Challenge begins now — April 2 🙂

How much attitude should a character have?

Sometimes it’s a secondary character who gets to take the most risks with extreme attitude — harsh snarky, silly nonsensical, comical, etc.

The antagonist thrives on a heavy dose especially if they rely on deplorable behavior to push the main.

Does the protagonist needs to match each level of attitude? Without it, will he/she bore the reader?

Can characters saturate a storyline with too much attitude?

Can a protagonist have more than everyone else?

Is it genre specific?

The Write Life

Reflections from a big weekend at the Pikes Peak Writers Conference. In short, it was amazing as usual.

My fellow writers have been making posts about their experiences and it has been fun to see the personal and shared takeaways. Inspiration is in bloom.

The theme that threaded its way into my personal experience: “You got this.”

While my manuscript is well beyond draft, it’s not at a place I can personally call “done”. The loose ends are a mix of doubts and a tingling sense that I’m forgetting something critical but can’t quite place my finger on it. No one has explored the numerous uncertainties with me more than my greatest supporter, my husband. He often sees in me what I can’t always see in myself, patiently reassures me when I’m steering toward another revolution of the “here we go again” topics, and understands that the words are the code behind the program. Much like users of software, the reader wants a seemingly bug-free experience.

To get there, it’s a personal journey that’s rarely taken alone. It’s a contradiction. In order to learn and grow we need the influences of great writers before us, hungry learners beside us, and strong supporters surrounding us while weeding through subjective viewpoints and absolute rules with numerous exceptions.

And just when a clear path emerged, I discovered there is no real destination. Writing as a whole is about the journey, the adventure of straying off course, reaching various check-in points for refueling, continually setting markers and determinedly marching forward.

For the first time, I can see the point where the “done” marker for this particular manuscript will be set. I’m a strong believer in following my gut. That feeling of knowing what sits within the core of what this work means and why I need to get to it. This is my fourth writing conference and with each year the vision has gotten clearer. Among the incredible spread of writerly wisdom and knowledge, three workshops caused me pause.

  • Angel Smits in “Making Characters Matter” confirmed my need to dig deeply into the souls of my characters. While patting tear-rimmed eyes, she shared haunting tales of the inspiration behind her latest story. People, whether fictional or not, are motivated by the same things. Events define us and human needs motivate us.
  • Brandy Vallance in “Unlocking Personification and Metaphor” reminded me in the most beautiful way that I need to follow my gut and listen to the whisper my manuscript is calling for. To, as she so eloquently put it, “Pluck the metaphorical guitar string and let it resonate throughout the manuscript.”
  • Barbara Samuel O’Neal in “Cornerstones of Excellence” focused on those refined details that take a revision from good to great. Tasked us with exercises to amplify senses in a given moment and uncover the complex layering of memories.

Outside of workshop sessions, our keynote speakers offered laughter, advice, and nuggets of wisdom.

Mary Kay Andrews, the late bloomer, and Andrew Gross, the retailer gone thriller writer, inspired me with personal stories of their highs and lows in reaching significant markers of success. Each story unique but carrying the commonality of being driven by the passion to write with no sure steps, no guarantees, and no definitive end point.

I was reminded that there are a lot of ways to become a writer and a lot of variations of the published author. That it can be a hobby or it can be a job. We decide what it’s going to be. But if it’s going to be a job, then stop waiting for the muse, sit down and take care of business.

One of our keynotes, Seanan McGuire reminded me of the life lesson we all encounter at some point. Usually earlier than we are ready for, life is not fair. And in this unfair world where some people have advantages over others, be kind.

Of the many highlights, meeting R.L. Stine, who was not scary will remain a favorite memory. He was funny and a pleasure to mingle with. There was an air of comfort that accompanied him. He told us he didn’t understand writers’ self-doubt. “What is this self-doubt? Just sit down and write.” Many of us looked on dumbfounded, heads swirling with burdensome writing experiences trying to make sense of this rather simple notion from the man who has authored 330 books and has reached countless readers — not only young but from an unexpected fanbase. So, I salute those words…you’re right Bob, I’m gonna sit down and write.

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P.S. My name is Aaron Michael Ritchey and my success is inevitable.

Garden

Easter flowers (2)

I’ve been enjoying my Easter flowers today and thinking about garden to life comparisons.

“Friends are the flowers in the garden of life.” — proverb

“Where flowers bloom so does hope.” — Lady Bird Johnson

“Your mind is a garden. Your thoughts are the seeds. You can grow flowers or you can grow weeds.” — unknown

“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.” — Abraham Lincoln

“The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is now.” — proverb

“Every flower must grow through dirt.” — unknown

“May my words, like vegetables be tender and sweet. For tomorrow I may have to eat them.” — unknown

Drama and Diarrhea: One and the same?

 Can be explosive
No one really wants to be around it
Can be caused by ingesting toxicity
Causes bloating
Many people have experience with it
For some people it’s chronic
Can be a sign of serious illness
Unpleasant
No one wants to be part of someone else’s
Can be contagious
Uncomfortable
Urgency to react
Can cause a quick exit

D

Drama or Diarrhea:

Avoid ___________.

If you bring ___________ to the pool, expect everyone to jump out.

Dreams and ___________ don’t mix well.

_________ limits freedom.

Flush the __________.

___________ stinks.

Don’t be a __________ queen.

~~ Deidre

Candy Crush Saga

I almost made it out of 2013 without succumbing to … (dare I say it)… Candy Crush.

THAT game that everyone was playing. Oh, it definitely looked like fun. Seemed like no one could put it down. Exactly! — Oh, no time for that.

           ¸.•*¨)
(¸.•´  ¤ Sweet •*¨`* ☆

And just days shy of a brand spanking new year basking in family fun and the leisure days of being on holiday I joined the forces of fellow Crushers and stepped into Candy Town. I was clearing jellies, looking for sets of four and planning sets of five. I was lured into Minty Meadow, across Bubble Gum Bridge and into Salty Canyon.

           .•*¨`*• ✫ Tasty
`*.¸.*

Before I knew it I was giving friends lives and gifts. Sending tickets for the plane ride out of Chocolate Mountains. And excitedly receiving the same. What fun!

             ☆´¨)
Delicious ¸.•´ ¸.•*´¨) ¤

My interest would spike when I reached a level instructing me to bring the ingredients down —  my favorites. 😀

¸.*¯`¤ Sugar Crush ¸.•*¨⋎✫
               *.¸.*

I eagerly joined the craze. I was using my five lives to the fullest and patiently waiting to get more. Having to wait made it so that I simply could not infringe on the important tasks of the day. A little crush with breakfast, bursts sprinkled throughout the day (especially if you find yourself waiting for anything) and mega crush while decompressing in front of the TV at night. And, whoa! The sleeping owl opens a whole new gameboard? Yippee! The word was that there was no end, no saving the princess, new levels were being made daily. This could go on forever…yay!

For me, forever lasted about three months. After fighting off multiplying chocolate and blowing up candy bombs. My digital sweet tooth subsided. The flavor for virtual savor coasted from Halloween night (I can consume massive amounts of sugar) to Thanksgiving night (No, please not another bite). The longing to crush dissolved.

I pop in once in awhile to answer requests. I played last night, for the sake of research. 😉 And it was fun for a while. It’s funny, that something can be so alluring and then one day you’re just over it. And for that reason, I had to dedicate a post to the colorful Candy Crush Saga. I’m glad we met, it was fun while it lasted. It’s not you, it’s me. I’ll stop in and visit.

candy crush

Reflections:

I liked the challenge of being stuck on a level.

The jellybeans look like Hot Tamales, the orange lozenges look like jellybeans, the purple cluster reminds me of the hard Christmas candies with sticky jelly filling, and the color bomb looks like a Whopper rolled in sprinkles.

I can’t keep from calling it Candyland and always stand corrected.

When I hear the Candyman’s cheesy voice say, “Sweet” I always think of Def Leppard’s song “Pour Some Sugar On Me”

btw — What’s with the daily spin? Why have that dang “jackpot” on there if they are never going to give it to you?

~~ Deidre