Saturday, December 22, 2007

Merry Christmas to all!

... and safe travelling - I prepare my own self for battle with ice, sleet and snow, as I envisage my yearly holiday treks to see family and friends.

May Santa visit and sprinkle joy upon you! And may he drive dump trucks full to the doorsteps of those most in need. I'm thinking everyone can make use of some joy.

Warm hugs to all, and to all a good night.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Writing Posting

I was chatting with a friend online this morning. Innocuously enough this friend asked me what I had planned for today and replied without even thinking about it: writing.

It has been a little while since I've written something of real value, rants notwithstanding. And I don't consider writing emails as actual writing. My next step was to fire up my blog console and exercise myself.

Then I thought I'd catch up on a couple of my friend's blogs and try to find motivation among them. I was delighted to find their diligence and subject matter to be full of inspiration and talent. I always find the value in other's creations, but seldom in my own. Their blog posts are absolutely brilliant, on all levels. In case you are wondering which I am talking about, I will name them specifically here: MedStudentWife’s Another Day in Paradise, and Deathsweep’s Deathsweeping.

I am awed by their dedication and quality of work and so I am inspired with them once again.

The creative process is one I am still struggling with and it seems “motivation & inspiration” are only 2 parts of a multi-part equation. I have been working on my novel with another friend of mine and the act of creation of a novel is seeing yet more interesting twists. I am learning that having different approaches to something adds immense value.

I don’t know why I am surprised at this, since it was my very lively hood for many a decade. I am a troubleshooter by nature and the single most important key to finding solutions is to look at something from various angles.

The work I am doing with my friend is akin to brainstorming. Currently, we are working on character arcs, which is an interesting concept in its own right.

A story arc is a series of events that carry the story to where it needs to go. I define the word “need” here as the extension of what the author wants to present. The story arc transcends characters, events, places and time to form a whole. Usually a story arc will contain specific key events, brought on sometimes by happenstance, but more often than not by the behaviour of characters involved.

And so through this involvement we come to the character arc, which is wholly different from the story arc in that the characters are the vehicles by which the story moves. They are involved in, or indeed sometimes are the story events themselves. But each person has a life, has his or her own motivations and, presumably, predictable behaviours. It is through their arcs that we get to know each of them. It is by determining their arcs that I, as a writer, lay out what they do.

I had never thought, not for a moment, that this would be the case!

I figured my characters were pawns and that I, the almighty writer, had complete control over who did what and when and how.

Pawns I say!

Indeed not. Giving them qualities, foibles, moods, thoughts, and motivations is the real act of creation, but in doing so, they are actually telling me what they are going to do faced with the situations I put them in.

So it has appeared to me in the past few weeks, or months even, that while understandable, my approach has been all wrong. I have a story in mind for sure: the story arc, as it were. But the characters, through their own arcs, are going to be telling me what they’ll be doing; what a revelation!

I’m not sure this is inspiring exactly, but it sure as hell is exciting!

I have no formal training as a novel writer, so I am beating around the bush and doing what feels most natural. Note that I said natural, and not easy. Drawing on my friend’s talent for both organizing and improvising has been an unexpected godsend. Him and I do not think in the same ways at all, thereby inherently contributing to that special dimension I was referring to earlier: different approaches.

We have been struggling greatly with the last of the main characters; her arc ties much of the story together. I have 2 other main characters: one is the male protagonist, the other, also male and is the main vehicle by which the story moves forward.

I began my story with setting up the second male, but when I wrote the first few episodes, it quickly became apparent that the protagonist had the more interesting stories to tell, which is why he now became the lead. Naturally, my friend and I conjured up the character arc for the second male first, seeing as we didn’t know any better, and this went swimmingly.

Then we tackled the protagonist, at this point declared as such. This went very well, although we did hit a story arc snag of minor significance.

Then we got to the female lead. She is a little more complex than her two male counterparts, but not agonizingly so. Low and behold, however, her arc actually holds all the keys to the story arc! This caught me by surprise, as I originally thought her character would hold some, if not all, the solutions, not the questions. Pawns indeed.

My story has now changed, and I am very happy about it: the story I wished to write in the first place held little appeal past the first 15 or 20 episodes, which I had already written and was competing with mental block.

Now, however, I am looking forward to writing more episodes as my characters develop. Also, I am curious as to what they will do, which actions they will take, and the consequences thereof.

I have another conference call with my friend tonight. I’m still not sure what we will be working on, seeing as my female lead has led us to ask questions I wasn’t ready to answer. In fact, they are questions I had not even thought of.

So it seems my so-called pawns are actually controlling my ass…

Def: protagonist:
1 a: the principal character in a literary work (as a drama or story)
1 b: a leading actor, character, or participant in a literary work or real event

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Wrong Picture

Everything wrong with Canadians? Here’s a prime example:

Mayor of Ottawa, O’Brien, has seen charges of coercion levied against him.

The media is clamouring and stating that he should resign.

Public letters & editorials are calling for his resignation.

And he hasn’t been to court yet!

This is what I was talking about before: being accused is enough to destroy someone, anyone really, because the media and the populace as a whole don’t have the wherewithal to sort out what they believe, from what is fact.

What the hell kind of people would condemn a man before having a fair trial?

I am truly ashamed.

PS. Note that Canadians don't hold the monopoly on stupid, but by god I'm not real proud right now.