Is namhaid an cheird gan í a fhoghlaim.
The craft is an enemy when not learned.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

[ANAH] Weeks 3 & 4: Redux

Looking back on weeks 3 & 4, I think that the circle method of laying out information and plot is more useful to me in terms of story structure.  The straight line is excellent for looking at timing of events but it doesn't evoke the same scrutiny of symmetry as the circle does.

Maybe it's because I've always been a mythology buff, but the circle definitely resonated with me more, at least in terms of plotting a romance.  In a romance, I find I want what is described in the Hero Cycle: to cross a threshold, enter into another state, travel in that state, then cross another threshold to emerge into the world again. Falling in love is entering into that altered state of being and the H/H emerges at the end with a different relationship to the world. One enters the adventure as a single entity, lacking something specific, and emerges from that haze of love and trials as part of a dual entity, with that lack fulfilled.

This is my sketch that I did of Nico's journey, because it was the one that spawned a lot of my interesting thoughts about the circular plot diagram.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

[ANAH] Weeks 3 & 4: Plotting along a curve

Naturally, I did everything backwards from Dianne, which you will see when I post my pictures next week.  James' journey is fairly mundane in my eyes, where Nico undergoes this immense transformation.

In the meantime... (No, I am not following the book here, did you really expect me to follow the book?  Do you even know me?) I will tell you the story:

Nico is a KNIGHT (paramedic) who gives up his knighthood to become a SERVANT (nanny) because he's lost himself and is seeking a rest in which to find himself again.  He enters the CASTLE of the KING (James) by passing the test of the GATEKEEPER (James' PA) and is given the task of guarding the King's TREASURE (children).  The King doesn't understand his treasure: YOUTH, INNOCENCE, SPONTANEITY, because he has set his own aside.

Nico takes the children to the WATER (pond) in which they find FROGS (symbols of transformation, hidden princes). James is displeased, but is convinced not to be angry.  Later, Nico attends a formal BANQUET at which he meets the other nobility in James' realm and also eats the FRUIT of James' table like Persephone eating the seeds of the pomegranate.  This makes him part of James' family.

When Nico is traveling with the children, they find an injured DOG (symbol of the instinctive and primal SELF). Though it is injured, Nico saves it and later convinces James to give the dog a place in the home, bringing in the unmediated self and giving it a place in the castle. The dog is also a guide to compassion and empathy, a connection between James' world and that of his children.

Nico DEPARTS the house when it is his time off and he ENTERS THE UNDERWORLD of his old life as represented by the night club. Nico has the choice between giving into temptation and partaking of the offerings there and remaining loyal to James. Because of his loyalty, he has maintained a CONNECTION to James (his phone) and James is able to draw him home.

The OLD KING (James' father) has lost his HEART (heart attack) and James must go and help him recover.  He leaves Nico to DEFEND his castle and Nico must give James HOPE and FAITH to sustain him while he is gone. James is given the opportunity to betray Nico's affections by telling the old King and Queen that Nico is only a servant, but James cannot because he no longer sees Nico as his servant. James remains loyal and returns home to Nico with their bond intact.

Nico is elevated from SERVANT to KING when he spends an entire night in James' bed and remains there at DAWN (threshold, new beginnings, sun=crown). James presents Nico to the children as his partner and gives Nico an equal share in his TREASURE by doing so. He then takes Nico out into the WORLD as his equal and Nico's story ends with Nico having his new place at James' side.

[Photographs to come when I find my (@*#&$@# camera!]

The Story so far: Anah discovers that all her Tarot and mythology studies are good for something other than crowding her bookshelves and also loses her camera. She managed to follow the rules for one week and then blew it, but what else is new?

[DIANNE] Weeks 3-4: Plotting Along the Curve

So after the first week of exercises, Anah and I sat down and figured out the conflicting climaxes problem—the answer turned out to be an entirely different third climactic moment that we agreed was more appropriate as the key to the story's resolution.

I went into the third and fourth weeks of exercises thinking about that problem, and coming at it from that perspective helped me a lot in my effort to make the story conform to the Mythic Journey and Heroic Cycle plot formats.

The heroic cycle seems to work well for James's character arc—he sets off on a grand adventure in terms of bringing Nico into his life, and he comes home when he grants Nico "insider status" in his family, rather than the outsider he's been up to that point in the story.

The mythic journey feels more appropriate for Nico's arc. He escapes the "cage" of his childhood and sets off a road of trials, facing James's conflicting needs as well as temptation from his friends. He defeats the Dragon by proving himself as a member of the family and not just an employee, and reaches home when he attains insider status in the family.

I'm looking forward to seeing what Anah comes up with!

The Story So Far: Dianne discovers that the heroic cycle and mythic journey are more fun to apply to contemporary romance when the stages and thresholds aren't taken at face value.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

[ANAH] Weeks 1 & 2 Redux

So, Things I Learned From Doing This Exercise AGAIN.  Not to capitalize so much.  No, really, I learned that I didn't know nearly enough about a character I was "leaving to" Dianne.  That's a bad habit of mine largely borne of not wanting to step on her toes.  

I don't assume about anything she's got going on because I want to let her have her say.  I was raised to believe that I was a conscience-less steamroller who never let anyone have any say.  Some of that may be true because I have ADHD and a slightly largish brain, but it's rather buggery when it comes to leaving blanks in my mind for Dianne to fill in as we go.

Other things I learned is that having a migraine is a full-time job.  I'm barely able to keep up and this is the first go-round.  Speaking of round, I think our next section is on circle-plots.  I did, all humour aside, learn what a bloody burden it is to have my brain trying to outgrow my skull.  

The Story So Far: If this exercise of writing things down (preferably on large pieces of paper with lots of colours) is the only thing I take from this book, I'm ahead.  

Sunday, January 9, 2011

[ANAH] Weeks 1-2: Plotting Along A Straight Line

Already, this process is awesome. I can't believe I didn't do this before. I love it. You can click through to see the results, so far, of my attempts to do this for Together for the Kids. I'm looking forward to seeing how this turned out for Dianne. I want to do one of these using Nico as the focus. I think that'll really help enrich my understanding of the story.

The Big Picture

What it took me a long time to grasp is that even if I have an idea, I only have an idea... it's like having an egg and thinking that the shell is the whole egg. The shell holds a wealth of potential. Whether I break it open and cook with it or nurture it and hatch it, I don't know what I have (and I can't work with what I have) until I understand that there is something inside that I don't yet know.

When the authors of WE/N say that messiness is king in this process, they are talking my kind of game. I love to use all kinds of paper, including sketch books (they come in the most amazing sizes and proportions), to lay out my ideas. An 18"x24" sketch book frees up the hands and mind. I have even bigger ones--the huge pads of paper used in teaching and workshops are also wonderful.

If you have a process that you find reliable, putting it out on a huge sticky note can be a great way to keep it in view and to remind yourself that you've committed to the work. They have ones the size of this huge easel pads. And, awesomely, you can use smaller sticky notes all over it. If, like me, you're hooked on those, this is a great way to use your collection.

The Story So Far: Anah discovers that she doesn't know nearly enough about how SHE writes (much less about WRITING) but there's hope for her yet.

[DIANNE] Weeks 1-2: Plotting Along a Straight Line

Reading over the description of this process, I wasn't so sure I was going to like it. And then I got into it... and liked it so much I did it for a second story!

I've looked over Anah's process post and, wow, this assignment was perfectly designed to highlight how differently we do things. I started laughing right away, because finally someone other than the two of us will be able to see how insanely differently she and I think about things... and yet somehow we make it all work.

Anah's plotline was James-centric, but I actually put both Nico and James on my plotline. I also noticed that she and I see the 'climax' of the novel at different points. I suspect we'll have to talk about that and figure out how and why we're thinking about it differently, and where we need to place the emphasis.

The Story So Far: Dianne discovers that the outline isn't the only valuable tool she needs in her writing toolbox.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

New Year, New Process

This Last year, Dianne and I discovered the Weekend Novelist books. In classic style, we both read the rewriting one first, then looked at The Weekend Novelist. Because it had such a coherent system and such good ideas, we decided (well, I made the suggestion and Dianne gamely went along with it--I can't believe she trusts me after all these years) to do the "dynamic 52-week program" over the next year.

If all goes well, this will give us a chance to learn some new techniques for working together, and we'll get an extra novel out of the next 12 months.

The exercises in each chapter generally span a 2-week period. Some we'll be doing together, some we'll both be doing, and others we'll split up--depending on what we'll get out of each exercise. For us, the purpose is to better learn each other's paradigm and expectations, to communicate better with each other, and to get to where we can each work effectively and independently without working unilaterally.

At least post about a chapter will be about the process involved, the other will be about the product. That means you can look forward to seeing photographs of our notes and diagrams as well as excerpts of prose--no matter what works or doesn't work.

Feel free to follow along or grab a copy of the book and work on your own novel.

Amazon: The Weekend Novelist
                The Weekend Novelist on Kindle
B&N: The Weekend Novelist

Coming soon... So, what ARE you writing, anyway? 

Saturday, January 1, 2011

getting started

it's our first weekend! i'm sick and can't find the book in my filthy office, you have the book and probably a list and are also getting us a website. ...sounds like we're starting off right.