Truth Is…

Trut is I haven’t been blogging much, but it didn’t mean I stopped writing, which kept up.  I’ve also been taking writing more classes and trying to get myself in order. On top of that it seems my schedule has conflicted with everything; my life, diet, sleep, and creativity.  I am not a happy camper.

That out of the way, let’s talk of pleasant things.  One of my writing lessons has been to look for the emotional payoff of characters in a story.  So, the question of “what’s this story really about,” sunk in for me.

After much contemplation I found myself writing down something that was too real and raw for me, personally.  It really pinched a nerve, in addition to being an emotion I felt I could explore and discuss.

My initial reaction was to pause, let the words cool down, then I went on to working on technical aspects (outline). Still there’s an elephant in my room that’s being ignored, because I felt I was shying away from my own story/character epiphany.

So as chaotic as things may be, the current goal is to get back to the heart of what I discovered, write it out, and work through a pinched moment.

On a side note I am glad I paused from blogging.  It helped me want to blog again.

Happy creative endeavors.

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Get It Done, Darn it!

I was trying to write about how I was looking forward to revising material for the novel. The content was sweet, thoughtful, and faced multiple revisions. Then I deleted it.

Why?  I was laboring too much, and if the material is to unabashed, progressive, and creative. I must act, not hold back, and do what needs to be done to make an entertaining story.

That said if the main character is naive, innocent, and these are defining traits, then he’s not truly passive. I simply have to break his traits. By that I mean I’m going to break, destroy, and ruin those traits for him.

He’s going to get some choices, where he can run, hide, and hope it all goes way, or he can man up, and get his life under his control, and it won’t be easy, or pretty.

So everything can and will fall into place.

Why? Because he’s my hero. Right or wrong, he’s going to get through his journey.

Happy creative endeavors.

Tropes, Archetypes, and Sterotypes

Was looking over tropes and archetypes and came across something interesting.  In my novel I needed a mentor archetype to teach my MC (hero) the ropes. The MC is white and the mentor is black. I didn’t think this was a trope, but came across what is called “magic negro.” BTW I bristle at the word, and should. It’s a pejorative.

For those not in the know, the term refers to a black character, usually of a lower economic and social standing, who is “in touch with the earth,” and may or may not possess magical powers. He or she may be the sole black person within the story, and his/her sole purpose in a story or film is to find the clueless white leading character, and give him or advice, then sacrifice himself for the MC.

This magic black man/woman typically doesn’t have their own storyline other than he or she is to be the MC’s guide. The magic black person has no family, no origins, and kind of a blank slate. This makes their character role pivotal, but also underwhelming.  Even Obi-Wan got to hang out and guide Luke after his death. Dude had more than agency—he had staying power.

By contrast, mentors are the archetype, and serve to guide the hero. They may sacrifice themselves, however they have agency and are viable parts of the narrative. For the record, the mentor for my novel has magic, and knowledge he teaches the MC how to use magic properly, but this is a world where magic exists.

The mentor in my novel evolved from being simply a mentor, to having elements of an ally (potential friend/companion), and trickster (who’s side are you on, anyways) archetypes.  He definitely has his own story arc, and he’s not the sole person of color in the story.

For the record, I love mentor roles in stories. I also love teachers, ad teaching. Academics is important to me personally. It’s important for me to get story elements correctly without falling into tropes and/or racial stereotypes.

Do I think I can have a black mentor for a white student? Do I think the roles can be misconstrued or misunderstood?  Can I give my mentor the role he deserves, past perceived limitations? Can I even defy expectations by not having a mentor be perfect or a great role model? The answer is “yes” to all of these questions.

Happy creative endeavors.

Stage One

Yesterday, before doing any gaming, I made sure to get some writing done. I needed to type up my ideas to keep on my schedule. This was done while being mildly distracted by family activities, but I got done what I set out to do.

Ultimately I picked out four ideas, and two additional ones as alternate selections (more on this later), and wrote down what I needed to look at for inspiration as a start for getting into the project.   I also typed out the ideas, knowing I’d think over them overnight, revise them today, and develop the premises.

One thing that happened, late last night, was that two of my story ideas were too similar. They were both fantasy-based stories. While one was in an urban setting and had a horror-supernatural vibe, the other was in a fantasy world, and that was really the only main difference.

Both MC’s were investigators, solved crimes, and had contentious relationships with their bosses. I’m not sure these ideas are different enough to warrant being written at the same time.

I may give this a day to mull over, but I’m sure I can merge these two, and pick one of the alternate choices (also urban fantasy). I feel the alternate idea is vastly different from either previous screenplays.

I also looked over genres of the chose screenplays. It’s mainly a variation of fantasy, actions/adventure, or supernatural, so I need each of them to stand up on their own without blending into each other.

To keep each story distinct, I need to add strong themes to each story, and hold to them. This will come from the MC’s personal conflict, and will likely evolve as the story is written.

This is getting complicated already. I like that.

Happy creative endeavors.

Know Better, Do Better

One of my talents, as a writer, is to have a sense of humor in my stories. I tend to mock behaviors, attitudes, culture, and whatever subject crosses my imagination.  Humor engages my imagination, and it can be entertaining to poke fun at such topics.

I noticed when writing, a notion–which never fully left me–is the notion that humor isn’t the route to take with my writing. That said, I often fail hard at trying to be seen as a “serious” writer.

By “serious,” I mean writing in a sterilized, boring style, stripped of humor, and intolerant to anything that has aspects of entertainment or enjoyment.  I do this while being so ridiculously ineffective in storylines that in part, end up drying out.

I sorta mocked myself in this moment. I don’t mind self-deprecating humor, but a brother needed to be in on his own joke.

I wrote, in previous posts, how I was bad a creating protagonists/main characters because I made them safe, or they lived in a bubble. Part of making better characters, for me, is seeing where I undercut them—and myself. I wasn’t doing them, or myself a favor.

Creativity is a learning process, and if one develops a strength, then one should see the skill, acknowledge it, and explore it without killing your own asset. Self-sabotage is a beast, but in this case, learning and growing from these mistakes will help me improve my craft.

Writing will always be rewriting for me, however, I’d like the idea, premise, research, outline, and first draft of my stories—in all mediums—to start off with the authentic vision and voice this artist allows his talents to shine through without killing the creativity.

Frankly I can and will do better from this experience.

As always, happy creative endeavors.

Damaged II

After the previous post, I looked at each of my characters to see the direction I steered them towards. A lot of my characters stated as an extremely passive. They didn’t act or react to their situations, nor did they reach for a goal, which is bad for story and character progression.

I also previously wrote that it seemed like “damaged” characters (manly from soap operas I used to watch) made things happen in storylines. Those characters with passion seemed to have the freedom to act. When some of these cats got knocked down, they got back on their feet, and tried a different approach.

The above actions are typically what I see with villains in many stories. They could be earnest, aggressive, and assertive. They didn’t simply react, they acted, they had goals, and no one was getting in their way. If you did get in their way, well, you were bound for trouble.

Heroes should be this way as well, and this may have been a blinding factor for me.

In soaps, many heroes (not all) can be passive, unsuspecting, and clueless to the world around them. The hero defined the genre of melodrama, which is, bad things happen to good people. To me, a soap opera hero didn’t have to do much in the story other than be the constant victim of a damaged character.

It’s only when the hero’s caught onto what was going on in the world around them, was he or she able to react, but it’s always at a late, late moment. By then the villain has made attempts to get their goals, got thwarted, and took a different routes to get what they want. The villain has had far more time to for character development and growth. The villain pushes the narrative with great urgency and strength.

Some villains typically do what the hero should be doing in a given story, which is make things happen.  It also suggests to me that the narrative theory is that those only who have desire act in a devious manner.  If you are bubbled and pure you will persevere though simply being good.  Total rubbish.

I believe characters must be active in their own story or they will be supplanted by another more engaging characters.  This may also explain the appeal of villains as secret MCs in storylines.  Think of how flat some storylines are when the hero and/or villains are cardboard. It’s what I’m doing right now.

As always, happy creative endeavors.

Damaged

This is something I’ve been mulling over since the time I’ve said in a previous blog that my melodramatic characters seem to have more action and reaction than the blank slates that are their counterparts in my other stories.  This still seems odd to me. Why does the melodrama story have more life than my other stories?

This is coming from a guy who has watched soaps for years. Back in the day, my Mom watched soaps and we weren’t allowed to change the channel while her soaps were on.  She watched primarily CBS shows, but from time to time, My Aunt and she mentioned liking Dark Shadows—which is odd cause my Mom does not do the supernatural—yet there she was watching it.

That said, I see a little of what my other characters were missing—Many of the characters are damaged in some way, and they play that pain out in their actions (most of the time).

Don’t get me wrong, I have seen some sorry-ass storylines/resolutions, but I’ve seen some compelling ones too.  What I’m getting at is the characters are who they are, and they try to work with what they have.

Outside of the melodrama story, most of my characters have more flat performances, and never leave their stoic bubble, which I have to admit has been a problem for me as a writer. My creative energy gets sapped when the “bubble” characters stop causing things to happen, and are passive in their own story.

With the melodrama story, I made characters selfish, self-absorbed, secretive, self-righteous, hateful, and scornful. They never apologized for their actions or behavior unless it got them something they wanted.

These are also attributes I give to villains in the other stories, and they have the freedom to act.  SO I need to take a long, hard look at my main characters, and as opposed to torturing them, allow them to be dirty, damaged, and make things happen as opposed to staying in a bubble. I still can torute them. I just want them to be better.

Happy creative endeavors.