Monday Mayhem – I’m conflicted

One of the cornerstones of writing any type of fiction is the need for conflict. At the start of every project, writers ask themselves at least two very basic questions:

What does our hero/heroine want most?

What is standing in their way?

Obviously, we delve deeper into the opposing forces as we move forward with a book, but those are the bare-bones basics. Internal and external forces are equally important, but require a different approach. This is where I stumble over one piece of oft-repeated writing advice.

We’re often told to imagine that ultimate goal, and then throw obstacle after obstacle into the path our protagonist has to take to get there.

Warning: Unpopular Opinion Ahead

I think there are times when an author can insert too much conflict into a story. As a matter of fact, I just read a book where it was literally one thing after another, page after page. No downtime. No breather. For me or the heroine. Nothing but one supposedly funny/sad/mortifying moment stepping on the heels of the one in front of it.

After the first few hits, I stopped buying in.

I know it’s fiction, but no one’s life is that non-stop. I mean, at some point, someone has to have a bio break, right? I’m telling you I would have locked myself in a filthy gas station bathroom and never come out if I were that poor heroine.

Warning: Unpopular Opinion #2 Coming At You

The other night, Jewels was talking about the big grovel scene in books… You know the kind, the one where one character does something so unthinkable that the only way they can possibly be forgiven is if they are willing to completely prostrate themselves at the other’s feet.

Yeah, I’m not a fan.

It’s not that I don’t want or appreciate a decent grovel as much as the next girl, it’s just that I don’t think they happen all that often in real life. Therefore, the whole set-up-overblown conflict/grand gesture/grovel comes off a bit too Hollywood for me.

I’m not saying a little groveling can’t take place. But, in my experience, there’s more awkward silence after a big blow-up than grandiloquent speechifying. I’d even go so far as to say that once we get past the oh-so-dramatic adolescent stage, most conflict is resolved with less than a paragraph’s worth of words.

And forgiveness doesn’t usually come with the big prize, but rather a small gesture.

Internal conflict usually plays a big part in my novels. Sure, I add a dash of external to turn up the heat a bit, but to me the story comes from the inside out, not the outside in.

Authors are frequently told to torment their characters, but I don’t. I figure they’re better at tormenting themselves than I will ever be. I just try to capture it all and put it on the page.

How about you? Are you a fan of the grovel? Has anyone ever hit you with a grand gesture. Tell your tale, and I might be inclined to give away a signed copy of Love & Rockets in celebration of this week’s exoplanet discovery!

Oh! And there’s a newsletter hitting inboxes tomorrow. If you aren’t on my list, sign up at the top of the sidebar >>

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Monday Mayhem – Persistence

Been there, done that, and my T-shirt is on the way.

Here’s the one I ordered:

I think the blue will really make my eyes pop. 😉

Persistence. If there’s one thing women know, it’s persistence. I have five older brothers. They didn’t always want to let me play with them, so they used their superior size and strength to try to muscle me out.

Nevertheless, I persisted.

With five boys and little hope of ever growing grass, my father covered our backyard in asphalt, installed a regulation basketball hoop, and marked the free-throw and three-point lines with spray paint. The ‘no blood, no foul’ rule was instituted. I was never big enough to mix it up in the games, but they would let me play H-O-R-S-E with them. Of course, they could stand behind either of those spray-painted lines and knock me out of the game in five quick rounds.

Nevertheless, I persisted.

Being a small girl, I had little hope of developing the arm strength for shots from field goal range. I needed to develop another weapon.

And so, I became the queen of the backwards bucket-shot.

With a little practice I could (and still can) sink a basket from anywhere within the arc by turning my back on the basket, spot-checking my alignment with the goal, then hurling the ball up over my head from between my knees.

I did what I had to do. I persisted until I found a way I had a chance to win.

I’m planning a program on goal setting and business plans for my local RWA chapter next month. In doing so, I’ve had to take a long look at my own goals and plans and how they have morphed in the past six years.

The publishing industry seems to shift and change like clouds on a windy day. I have a plan in place for 2017. Who knows if it will be relevant in 2018? *shrugs*

But I have to start somewhere.

Either way, I will persist.

Oh, and here’s a snapshot of me honing my skills on my First Communion day. What can I say? I was dedicated.

 

 

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Monday Mayhem – Shake it up!

So…life took a couple of turns for me last week. I turned the first book in the new Play Dates (Kensington/Lyrical 2017-2018) series in to my editor, and, I turned in my two-week notice at the day job.

While I’d love to say I’ll be writing for a living, that’s not the case…yet. What it came down to was the need to make a choice for happiness. And, extreme caffeination. For that reason, I chose to try something new. I’m going to work for our local Coca-Cola distribution center.

As Fodder pointed out, the only job that might have been a better fit for me would be some sort of quality assurance for at Steak ‘n Shake. 😉 Mm. Steakburgers. *sigh* A girl can dream.

This is another big step for me, but one that I think really highlights my evolution through my 40s. I went into this decade of my life with a lot of “somedays” in the back of my head. You know the kind. They sound a lot like, “Someday, I’ll write a book.”

My adventures in publishing have given me so much more than a sense of personal accomplishment. I’ve had to learn to accept and embrace criticism and rejection. I don’t like either of those two, but I can deal with it. And because I can, I now have the courage to make choices based on my potential for happiness.

The main thing I’ve learned in this decade is that life is too short. There’s no guarantee that you’ll ever see Someday. All we have is THIS day.

So, do something risky today. It doesn’t have to be big, or life altering, or even thrilling. Just take a chance, make a leap, do something that makes this day different from all the others. If it doesn’t work out the way you hoped, try something else.

Life is a series of chances, not a one-and-done.

The only true failure in life is the failure to make an attempt.

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Monday Mayhem – Missing you

I wrote the big mother/daughter relationship post last week because I knew I couldn’t do it this week. Today, I don’t want to dissect my relationship with my mother.

I just miss her.

This is the rough week.

On February 8th of last year, we lost Jewels’ mom and our friend, Joyce.

My dad passed away on February 9th, 1998.

Saturday, February 11th will mark one year since my mom went to join him at the big cocktail party in the sky.

Yeah…I’m not a big February fan in general.

Luckily, a snafu in scheduling and some other real life distractions will keep me busy, so I have the perfect excuse to hole up for a few days.

So, go call your mommy or daddy, if you can. Kiss your loved ones. Cuddle a puppy. Or kitty. Or bunny. I’ll be back next week, and we’ll muddle through the rest of this month together.

xoxo

Mags

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