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Saturday, December 21, 2013

Relating to Characters



Trying to improve on some character descriptions got me thinking.
Most of the main characters in popular fiction have similar leading roles.  The characters are generally the 'every' boy/girl with something to overcome.  Obstacles can vary from being plain, orphaned, tragic loss, or coming of age.  Something in the life events of the character spurs a dramatic call to action and discovery of unwavering standards for truth, right, or victory at insurmountable odds.

Somehow the majority of the population seems to relate to these 'everyday hero's'.  Yet, the majority of the population would by definition have to be in the 'mob' of non-doers in order for the main character to stand out. 

It's nice that readers at large all see the glimmering of greatness lying dormant within, perhaps waiting for the dystopian society to rise so they can shine.  If nothing else I find comfort in the fact there are so many popular books based on government having too much power and one or two characters overthrowing the lack of balance.  I am counting on those readers to unite if our government gets too far out of line with power hungry changes toward long established rights.  I keep waiting for the Facebook post calling all Sci-Fi fan readers to some kind of Cyber Union of fictional book instruction based overthrow of power and the gradual return of authority to the people of society. 

I also wonder if anyone relates to the mob... Does anyone feel connected to the book majority population?  The group who never question oppressive power?  The classmates who standby while a bully finally pushes the 'hero' to the breaking point and thus igniting that winning spirit?  The devastatingly attractive character who is filled with vanity and greed, always getting what they want and unable to overcome a sense of entitlement?

We can all see the fire kindled within us demonstrating our destined greatness.  Best Sellers are always the books that overcome the most unrealistic odds for good.  I know I prefer a happy ending to stories I read or movies I watch, but I do realize it's ridiculously optimistic sometimes.  Even things 'based on reality' take a great deal of creative liberty in some areas to ensure the story is thrilling and emotionally taxing from they first sentence to the final breath.

I prefer a good story.  I guess I get enough reality in my day, the drudgery of downtime, to crave the nonstop action and adventure of a story. 

However, I do think I try to make my characters 'too normal' for the best sellers list.  I love stories where the characters aren't 'all good' where they have that mischievous spark of poor decision making or ill placed judgment and you somehow like them anyway.  Maybe that's why some of my favorite movie characters are those people who can make the 'bad guy' somehow likeable. I don't want bad decisions to be made to look good or good decisions to be bad, but I like the idea that everyone harbors the potential for both good and bad.  I love the internal struggle and the notion that you might not know for certain which direction the main character will choose. 

I know what I find dynamic and entertaining, but whether or not I can capture that in a character in a plot I create is another story.  My freaking dilemma! 
Who knows if anything will ever materialize.  In the meantime I am living the arch of potential for my own successes.  Will I choose to continue working out the flaws and character/plot development my attempts lack or will I fall to the laziness that seems to grow within and the hopelessness of being able to tell a dynamic story that other's will want to read. 

Only time will tell if I am truly a character of the 'hero'  who triumphs in my own life endeavors or the character who dreams things up and falls just short of following through on my goals.  Ugh, harsh.

I know what I want to be. 
I better keep working at being the success story and not the tale of tragedy.
I guess I better get to typing some adjustments and enhancements.  I'm writing a story for young readers, you might not think it's that difficult.  If you're a naturally talented writer it might not be that difficult.  For some reason it is truly overwhelming for me most times.  I struggle with flat characters, bland plot ideas, rushed action sequences, and hallow supporting characters. 

Stupid relatable and well written best sellers, you make it look so easy!  I read those tales and believe I can achieve the same life success of my own goals as the main characters. I truly believe it!  And all my efforts have me questioning that gleaming inspiration, but my stubborn nature won't let me forego all my failed efforts thus far. 

It's like being inspired to get slapped in the face repeatedly.  Being inspired to be reassured you not only lack talent, but the ability to correct or strengthen your weakness. 

It's a good thing I'm hardheaded and blindly optimistic, not to mention so 'well-read' that I have a deep seeded notion that no matter the hole of inability there will always be a way to achieve, to climb and overcome. 

So, thank you, unrealistic best sellers. 
You have provided me with the lack of reality to continue to pursue my goals and I salute you! 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Do You Encourage the Belief in Santa?


We have three young kids and never had that 'talk' about whether or not to say Santa is real. 
We're Christian and want to instill an understanding that this season is about Christ. 

I remember being three years old when my sister who was five informed me that there was no Santa.  As a matter of fact I don't recall ever thinking Santa was real because most of my ability to form memories developed with my language production/storage skills and I don't have many memories before the age of three.

My oldest is now five.  She writes letters to Santa and chases down large bearded strangers dressed in red coats with crazed excitement.  She has never actually asked if Santa is real or not.  She's a generally inquisitive little girl, so it surprises me sometimes that she hasn't wondered about the intricacies of the Santa myth.  Then again I know my own father believed in Santa until the age of 15 when one of his High School teachers took him aside and broke the news.  It might be in the genes to believe.

With three little kids our last few weeks have been devoted to being sure to have things in order and fill our house with twinkling magic to some extent. 
We don't have and Elf on the Shelf.  Some of my friends think that is a creepy tradition.  It doesn't creep me out, the idea of creating magic in a kids life always makes me smile. 
But, it turns out you end up investing a lot more time and money- I'm already neck deep in crafting projects, school activities, painting things my husband made out of wood for the kids gifts (yes my husband is that cool)!  I just don't have the additional energy or creativity to come up with places to put the elf and purchase a bunch of things for it to leave... 

Back to the question at hand.   I love the magical feeling this time of year.  I remember being filled with wonder as a little girl, even though I didn't believe in Santa.  My kids do believe in Santa, but we also told them that Santa shares his joy for Christ by sharing his talents of toy making with all the children of the world.  We ask them to think of talents they can share in order to show their gratitude for Christ and celebrate His birth.  It was the best way I could come up with incorporating the commercialism of gift getting, which is the biggest excitement for kids with service and worship of Christ. 

Yes we allow our kids to believe in Santa, but we haven't been faced with having to reassure their doubts.  I'm pretty sure if my kids come to be with doubts about Santa I will let them reach their own conclusions and not try too hard to perpetuate the myth.  It's fun to get excited about fantastical things though- flying reindeer, magical sleigh, a jolly fat man that keeps track of good deeds, and (most important since we live in the land of snow six months of the year) a beautiful village where everyone is happy and productive despite the fact it is always in a dreary snowscape void of flowers and the natural antidepressants more than three hours or sunshine can provide. 

I think the season should be centered in Christ, it is CHRISTmas after all.  But I don't see any harm in enjoying the magic of Santa.  

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Less is More

This week I have decided to apply the literary additive that sometimes less is more to my own life.

I started with less writing and more baking.

That lead to less exercise and more weight gain.

I decided to spend less on groceries this week and eat more leftovers. 

This lead to less interest in eating meals and reverting to eating more of the baking goodies.  (They were intended for Holiday celebration/parties, but I will have to start over on that intention).

A book I had on hold at the library came in so I included less sleep and more reading, since the only time I can read without my kids sticking their heads in my face and asking what I'm doing is late at night when they're all sound asleep).

Lack of sleep lead to less patience and more yelling...

I did less laundry and had more piles to shove out of the way.

Suddenly I had less outfit options and discovery of more old clothes hiding in the back of my closet- I forgot how much I liked my green cable knit sweater! (despite the fact it's bulky and adds imaginary pounds).

Somehow my less is more week is turning into more bad habits than less bad habits... 
I guess I should have started with less instant gratification and more self control.

There's always the New Year for such lofty notions. Hopefully my resolutions will last longer than the two entire days I applied the less is more theory.