Hope of the Morning

“You are not oiling the wheels of a machine that’s about to roll over a cliff. You are not restoring a great painting that’s shortly going to be thrown into the fire. You are not planting roses in a garden that’s about to be dug up for a building site. You are—strange though it may seem, almost as hard to believe as the resurrection itself—accomplishing something that will become in due course part of God’s new world. Every act of love, gratitude, and kindness; every work of art or music inspired by the love of God and delight in the beauty of his creation; every minute spent teaching a severely handicapped child to read or to walk; every act of care and nurture, of comfort and support, for one’s fellow human beings and for that matter one’s fellow nonhuman creatures; and of course every prayer, all Spirit-led teaching, every deed that spreads the gospel, builds up the church, embraces and embodies holiness rather than corruption, and makes the name of Jesus honored in the world—all of this will find its way, through the resurrecting power of God, into the new creation that God will one day make.” — N.T. Wright in “Surprised by Hope”

Wichita: Riding Bikes

Writing creatively again after 5 years is not at all like “riding a bike” or an equally bothersome cliché that implies ease. My bike riding is akin to finally getting balance at top speed near the cliff face and have to make the split-second decision to ditch the bike or cause myself bodily harm. I always leave the bike behind, afraid to commit to going over the edge and leaping into the unknown. Yes, I remember how to type words in an order. I remember basic sentence structure. I know most of the jargon of writing, literature, and critique. I remember the authors. By looking at bindings of books I’ve read, I connect to those universes. I remember the faces, the struggles, the places I’ve gone with them. But I feel no ease in writing.

Crafting fiction for me presents a difficulty. I want to do more research. I want to find out how to make it perfect. I want to write the best sentence. Overall, I feel utterly inadequate. I’m afraid to make mistakes. I’m afraid to keep going. To write trash that I hate and keep going. I’m afraid that it will open too many doors I can’t shut. That while opening the floodgates, it will drain me and I’ll be empty after.

Also, I’m afraid to fail. I’m afraid to talk about failure. I’m afraid of not getting published when I finally stop failing to complete things. I’m afraid of never being able to complete things. I’m afraid that I will procrastinate until I’m dead. I’m also afraid that as soon as I become successful or not failing, I’ll get sick and die. I’m afraid that God will smite me for being happy or successful and I’ll be surrounded by accomplishments that I’m proud of and I’ll be struck by lightning (raised protestant, but still have a vengeful God).

So today after discovering a note in one of my books, I have decided to feel slightly better. It is a postcard or a patron note from The Wichita Art Association. On the back it has a quote:

“We want to give every man, woman and child in this broad country of ours the same opportunity which most of us have had, to gain from a knowledge and appreciation of art and the happiness that art will bring.”
-Robert W. deForest

The Thinker (don't really know the name of this or the print maker...)

The Thinker (don’t really know the name of this or the print maker…)

Robert deForest lived from 1848-1931. And he was the fifth president of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He was elected on October 20, 1913. He also was one of the founding members of the American Federation of Arts which hoped to “bring the museum to the people“. I also found a publication that gave me a little more information from November 25, 1922. It gave me some insight into who he was and showed the first picture of the DIA (Detroit Institute of Art, which probably was the coolest thing I found — I’m in love with that place).

So share your art. Get it out. Stop being afraid (this last bit mostly for me).

Barbie, You’ve Pissed Me Off

First off, I’m already in a bad mood. Then I had to go and read this drivel. The article was fascinating. It really made me feel like I learned something when I got through it. I’ve faced sexism when it comes to working environments. I’ve been looked down at and looked past because I am a woman doing a “man’s” job.
Barbie, well you pissed me off. Granted it’s the content writers fault, but the behavior of the character is inexcusable. It keeps me going back to the comedy line that Sarah Silverman said, “Don’t tell kids ‘girls can be anything!’ They wouldn’t have thought otherwise…” By telling girls you can grow up to be anything what you’re really introducing is doubt that they can succeed.

 

What we really need are a few people to step up and make changes to literature our children are reading. There are some huge gaps in intelligent, attractive female characters. There are huge gaps in children’s books about children who aren’t white. There are few children’s books about adopted children. However, our children that need the inspiration. To see other people who can find jobs doing things that they are interested in. That they have dreams about. That change the world or make the world a better place.

Please write better things than this. Please include thought when you hand your child a 2-in-1 book where one side they could be an actress who can’t remember her lines and the other side they could be studying computer science but they don’t code (she only designs and leaves the coding to the boys, GAHHH!).

I’m begging you, today let your art push us forward as a society and not bring us backwards. Let us fight these people who stereotype us and make us fit into the spaces that are comfortable for them.

I’m asking you to live uncomfortably. Push against the current – we’re going in the wrong direction.

 

What Character: A people first design.

Characters provide the foundation of good and memorable stories. They are relatable, if larger than life. They breathe into the story and they give the reader a reason to continue even if the plot is unexpected. I think the 1980-1990 version of a character where it is extremely constructed (thinking of television series here) as opposed to the late 90’s – early 2000’s reality tv shows where we lost a sense of dimensionality. Stories became about the bimbo and the stud. But there was no deeper meaning and less relatability. We wanted or craved stories that were unrealistic and impractical. Ah, disillusionment.  I think written works need to avoid making characters that are two-dimensional and without reality.

“The purpose of a character profile is twofold: to assist the writer in creating a character that is as lifelike as possible and to help with continuity issues in the story.” –The Lazy Scholar The Internet Writing Journal, June 1998

The most interesting advice I’ve seen is telling the writer to allow for the characters to fit within a cliché. But this cliché doesn’t last for long, because as soon as you add a personality or quirks, they become their own person and you begin to care about them. They become more important the more you get into their heads. You want to describe how they feel and what they are thinking, but you need to give them life.
Another tip that I found was to allow the character to live with knowing more about what they do and not what they like. (and characterization had some helpful links as well)

“We remember characters because they do interesting things. We forget characters whose favorite food is pizza.” – Joe Bunting

In addition to the above, I’m going to challenge myself to think about who my characters are by looking at three different points about them. Care of Michael Novak’s thoughts. This probably reflects more on Christian Theology, but I think it applies to writing and creating characters as well.
– Private Beliefs, what they think
– Public Beliefs, what they say (and mean in the moment)
– Core Beliefs, what they do

Wrap Up

  • Characters should reflect life
  • Characters will always be clichés, but should have a distinct personality
  • Characters have distinct personalities when they do interesting things
  • What characters do, defines them (more than what they think and more than what they say).

Not Looking Back

Not looking back, but looking down the hill. This is the most I have written in years. And while I am super judgmental about each word my fingers have typed, I typed them. And that feels really good. They moved across the screen and I stopped just talking about it. I formed a slight habit. Albeit a habit that makes me extremely anxious, non-social, forces procrastination, but that waste of time does get my apartment rather clean.

At the halfway point, I’ve figured out the structure or at least a temporary structure for the first half and three-quarters of the novel. That feels slightly better than not having a plan. (I like a planned trajectory, I like to know what’s going to happen next — even if I do not want the reader to know.) My characters feel like they are making some sort of progress even if the type of change wasn’t what I wanted.

Just delete that paragraph later…or chapter.

And I have a bit of a plan for my December. I’m going to take a little break from my characters once I get there. Once past 50,000 words, I’m going to let the words settle and give myself time till the new year to look at them again. I always like a little distance between people to figure them out. But, I want to keep on writing. I’m going to keep the same goal of 2,000 words per day. Not about the novel though. I’m going to stay away from it. Stay away from reading it. Stay away from judging it. Giving it time to breathe.

Also, I’m going to allow myself to read and force myself to read a new book each week. For December till I don’t know when, because if I only go till January that’s like 4 books, which is not impressive at all.  I read multiple books at a time. But I’m planning to read in December with all the professor instilled note taking, analysis, author research, inner margin note taking, and reviews that I plan on writing for each. So deep diving reading, not just the wishy-washy pick up a book read a few hundred pages here and there. I’m going to pick four books and read them, even if I don’t I like where they are going. Whether or not they really have characters I find interesting. Even if they are long. Or boring. And I’m going to write about them. With the notes that I take about them.

I haven’t decided what to read yet. More research is necessary. What do college kids read now? Time to stalk curriculums…

Me the last time I tried to read Ulysses

The Halfway Point

It’s the final countdown.
It’s the point of no return.
It’s the halfway point.

Thank god there are still 15 days left!

I took Friday night and most of today to solidify the holes in my plot. It is still dangerously close to the suck dragon after all. But I have identified crucial points of entry that I need to keep going with. I added more scenes today after reading an article that told me his solid number for a novel was about 100 scenes. Welp, I’m at 30. And I am well a third of the way there.

In addition, I made up for my Thursday – Friday energy pit brought on by sudden change in weather. (Snow in Michigan). Anyway, I’m at the halfway point for both word count and time, I caught up. So that seems good. Or at least great for me. I did see people in the forums at 70k already. And I went, no, you took a step back. You wanted to make sure that things were in order before you continued. I mean I could free write 70k no problem by now. (Maybe). But I don’t think I could stay within the scope or the topic range or the plot that I had created. There would be too much tangential crap to work with.

How else are you supposed to dance in a dress like that?

Here’s to the next 15 days.
It’s the final countdown.

Plot: And avoiding my suck dragon

The king died and then the queen died is a story. The king died, and then queen died of grief is a plot.
E. M. Forster

I’ve been missing something. At first, I thought it was characters that drew the audience. Now I know I’ve been missing my ending and with it the plot. The main issue begin the fate of my main character or co-main character.

You just snuck up on me out of nowhere!

I would really like for it to tidy itself up near the end and not leave a giant hole, but I’m afraid if I do that it will feel to neat and sown up giving the reader a bow for making it to the end.

Although, I do not know if this is really the problem after all. I’m fearful that by finishing this I will not have new ideas, even though I know (or part of me does) it is not the case.

When I look back at endings that I remember of books or stories, some of them had neat endings but for other the characters were changed, left to dangle in this universe that they had surrounded themselves with. So I’ve done my research, if there’s one thing I’m good at it’s google searches.

I’ve found some articles to read for my broken plot issues to ease or remove my dragon (plot) of suck.

Because when James Van Der Beek cries the world does. He does not appreciate my suck dragon.

8 steps for making a better plot outline

This next one really gets into my negative editor but here it is any way with suggestions of the following:
Don’t keep any “next step” which doesn’t:
A. advance the plot
B. deepen characterization
C. end with a hook that incites reader to read on
D. come as a natural progression of what’s been foreshadowed earlier
E. contain conflict
F. move characters either closer to or farther from their goals
G. contain logical, believable, and motivation

Ideas for other plot issues

The snowflake method not advocating that you buy the software but the logic for the process seems interesting and efficient. I also liked the spreadsheet with scene descriptions because I thought for a while that I could write them all down on a sheet of paper, but it turns out I need about 100 scenes for a decent novel…

Not sure this helped me but I’ll keep looking for help, I know we went over plot in creative writing class but…I never a story to be this long or this interesting, it was all very brooding and sad. Does that mean I’m growing up? Nah, probably not.