Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Elements of Story

Years ago, in my English classes, we learned that Story = Protagonist + Antagonist resulting in Conflict.

Conflict creates rising Tension ultimately resulting in Climax and (hopefully) Resolution. With resolution comes Denouement or gradual reduction in tension.

These are all arbitrary guidelines for the beginning writer at best and in my writing, they’ve been thrown out the door a number of times.

But the antagonist can be the beginning and end of story -- one of the most important elements.  To ensure this, some writers work very hard to "plot" his or her story in order to create and maintain the kind of rising tension, initiated by a powerful antagonist and required for a really good story.

That writer would spend plenty of time in her initial structuring of the book on that particular element of story with a definitive profile and the full development of the character.

But what happens when your novel takes a side trip from your planned itinerary and you have to go back, pick up and try again?  I was not able to control that.

In my novel, “When the Eagle Flies with the Condor,” the antagonist is not a person, but a situation arising out of emotions such as feelings of abandonment, estrangement and perhaps even jealousy. 

It is unrequited love. Sound corny? Not when the love is between brother and sister. Their love is more representative of “agape” (from the Greek) than romantic, but the point is, it wasn’t planned that way. It happened and I wanted to be as honest as I knew how to be, thus allowing the antagonist to become whatever it needed to become.

I do believe that having a good idea of what your story is going to say and knowing how it will end is one way to write a novel. But I also agree with some who say that allowing the mind to soar uncontrolled into unexpected regions can be very satisfying and productive and end up perhaps being more. . . well. . . or maybe. . . less -- formulaic?  It's my understanding this is called the "panser" method rather than the "plotter" method.

I rather like the term. Perhaps I've been a panser rather than a plotter all along.  Or maybe a "plodder."   You get the idea.




Thursday, April 12, 2018

Life is a Banquet

Don't nibble on the good things.

Life is a banquet.  Devour it!

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Words of wisdom, eerily relevant today.

"In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends." 

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

JFK. I Remember . . .


Today is not a day to celebrate but to remember.  

I was very young and very idealistic.  But I have never been more in tune with or involved in government and what it was doing than those days of the Kennedy administration.  My generation believed that government could work back then; we believed in the Constitution, in equal rights, in the freedom of the press.  

We were warriors, we were involved; we were activists, we lived fervently, rebelled ostentatiously and loved freely; we fought back; we became consequential.  We did not "go along."   

We had a leader who inspired.

Kennedy's legacy through the years has been laced with a kind of blandness as though aside from his youth, his wit and charisma, his attractive young family, he really accomplished very little. This was blatantly wrong.

Now, however, appreciation of Kennedy's accomplishments grows with each passing year. And it should.  True, he allowed Khrushchev to get the upper hand (at first). Also true, that the Berlin Wall went up during his tenure. Indeed, he resided over the Bay of Pigs fiasco and we're all aware of his "indiscretions." But I believe today, that had that young president lived, he might have been one of our greatest leaders. Remember, he had only a thousand days in which to accomplish his agenda.
  
As for his accomplishments, take note: the Peace Corps, the Alliance for Progress, Civil Rights legislation, the Space Program and the introduction of the Green Berets. His major accomplishment, however, was a tight and tense little psychological drama between the USA and the USSR known as The Cuban Missile Crisis, which, without the successful maneuvering of the Kennedys, might have left the world in a state of nuclear disaster.

I guess his potential greatness will never be known which is what happens when someone takes you out before your time. But I think when all is said and done, his star will ultimately shine as one of the brightest.  

I remember and I am grateful to have learned my political abc's under your leadership. You never blamed others for your mistakes -- you took your lumps with calm and grace. You spoke decisively but with care for the feelings of your listeners, with admiration for those in the Press who covered you, with respect for those who opposed you and with dignity that matched the office you once held. 

You made us dream.

I miss you, JFK.


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

"Being President doesn't change who you are, it reveals who you are." Michelle Obama

This is the President of my country: 

Someone who has led a life that began with power and money, who has learned he can buy his way to anything; someone who is lazy and lacks intellectual curiosity; someone with no sense of history, who has an untrained mind and who either cannot or will not read crucial briefings but instead must be mollified on a daily basis with adulation. 

Someone who (research reveals) has a history of corruption and money laundering with foreign partners, who admires autocratic and dictatorial regimes, who supports white supremacy and neo-nazism. This man has no respect for our system of "checks and balances," for the Press or for established norms of decency.  This man thinks he is king!  

This man who has become president of our country is embarrassing us in the eyes of the world with every stupid tweet and every garbled and inarticulate utterance. 

This is someone who moves within his world of privilege without contributing anything to it. He is a taker but he gives nothing back.  

This is a man who is unfit, both morally and intellectually. 

He should be removed from office!  

Speaker Ryan, are you listening? 

Thursday, August 10, 2017

When Will These Two Men Act?

Image result for sue mcghee these two men hold our futures
 Senator McConnell and Speaker Ryan.
You are there to represent US.  When will you begin to do that? 

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Complexities of the English Language -- a reprise.



With the undaunted and continuous reporting on every aspect of our world today, both political and personal -- as a result of the "twenty-four-hour-news-cycle," certain phrases appear again and again in our Media ad nauseum.  It isn't just the talking heads who commit the sin of "pundit drivel."  It's the supposed experts of all fields whom the pundits interview.
We are being proselytized on a daily basis to thinking in terms of the clichéd cliché.

Here are few that have come to make me cringe:  

“. . .having said that...”

“. . .that being said. . .”

“. . .at the end of the day. . .”

“. . .we’ll get to that on the other side. . .” (of the commercial break).

“. . .he allegedly. . .” (did something like cross the street).  

". . .whatever. . ."

". . . it is what it is . . ."  

“. . .what were (are) your feelings. . .?” (asked of someone who can hardly speak because of being choked up with tears after a tragedy in their lives).

". . .sorry for your loss  . . ."

". . .what was going through your mind . . .? (when the gunman shoved the gun in your face). 

“. . . be that as it may. . .”

“. . . so . . . “  (a word currently used to preface the answer to a question – Mike Morell should know better!)

“. . . like . . . “  (Oh, please, let’s get rid of this word used to begin a sentence or to fill a pause.  Like, I'd be over-joyed!)  

“. . . I know what the optics are. . .” The White House Staff uses “optics” a lot.  How about something like, “. . . I know how this appears. . .”

Appearances do matter and so do words.

My latest peeve, however, is the use of “complex” when the speaker means “complicated.”  Yes, the dictionary makes it sound like they are interchangeable.  However, there is a subtle difference in the connotation of the words.  In the case of the word “complex” the connotation is and has always been one of the following: containing multiple interconnected parts; a composite; multi-faceted; a complex system of something.  

"Complicated," on the other hand, is not that complicated -- it connotes difficult to understand, analyze, explain or follow.

Am I the only one who gets rankled with the sloppy use of "I" and "me," "he" and "him" as well as "she" and "her?"  One should give it to "me;" therefore, one should also give it to "him and me" or "her and me."  Please don't let one give it to "her and I," since one would never give it to "I," would they?   I guess it's just me!  

Next up:  my rant on Pharmaceutical commercials.  I’ll bet you can’t wait!