Everyone Has Unique Struggles

Every person in the world has a story to tell. And every person in the world has a different struggle to overcome. I’m honestly humbled by this reality; it’s a truth of life in case you were wondering. No man or woman alive today leads a perfect existence. There’s a definite push and pull in the universe and that same push and pull is occurring just below the surface of every person. It’s happening deep within, close to the heart, and everywhere in between. That’s a fact. So as this story of mine comes to a close, I’m experiencing a hardship of my own: creating a proper struggle for my character. Weird problem to have, is it not?

The reason for this conundrum? I’m convinced that we live in an age of bad writing. Shock value supersedes pure value; predictable and familiar is more welcome than unpredictable and unfamiliar; and the concept of “making it” only applies to writers who have had their works transformed into film. No fault of theirs, but 99% of the time I tell people how I’m finishing up a story, the first question I get asked is this – to my chagrin – something like this: “Do you think it’ll be a movie someday?” To which I reply, “Good Lord, if it does, I hope to have some serious say in how it translates.”

Spirit Run has really made me consider what it takes to make a decent character; specifically one who has a dilemma worth resolving. Every great story has a conflict that’s needs resolution. The questions I have to answer – as a writer – are how to present that conflict, how to get there, and how to go about resolving said conflict. You can stick to the basics, but ultimately, you have to consider what hasn’t been done before. I perform this calculation anytime a new idea poses itself. Does the problem make sense? Is the character exciting to me? Do I care to see what happens to him or her? If my answers end up being ‘no’, I move elsewhere. But if I’m intrigued by where it might be headed, I press on.

The main character of Spirit Run has no name; something I leave ambiguous for my own reasons, but she definitely has a struggle to overcome. And it’s a struggle that’s unique to her, but altogether relevant to the reader too. That’s what I’m hoping to accomplish with this story. Create something new, something different but something familiar too. A unique struggle if I ever had one.

Thoughts on “Spirit Run” – part 5

I’ve been excited to write this story for a while. I should probably mention that. But the build up to this part has been leaving me dry. Yes, there was a run-in earlier with a potentially dangerous opponent but it didn’t turn out to be a major bump in the road, if you will. However this part introduces a much more imposing enemy. How exciting, right? There’s some crazy screaming off in the distance, the barrier that the Trio made is getting rocked, and every other angel in the field of lights knows that something is up. Basically, there’s a ton of chaos happening. And I like it.

You need this kind of tension. Some foreboding angst to keep things interesting. May sound sadistic – and it could be, to a point – but every story has a good conflict. It’s a necessity for crafting any story. If it’s all rainbows and butterflies, then you are probably doing something wrong. Hence, there’s an ominous figure – a shadow – slowly creeping into the fray. What it wants and what it’s doing is still a mystery, but that’s a good thing. Any reader should know that’s it not good, whatever it is. And ironic as it sounds, that’s a positive for creating conflict in the story, a conflict that needs resolution.

There’s plenty more to do before the end, but I’m enjoying the road to see what’s next.

Till next time.

Top 5 New Year’s Resolutions

Sometimes it’s better to spell things out. Especially when it comes to making goals. That way you actually have your aspirations in writing and can refer back as necessary. As for me, I’ve always enjoyed making lists. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve liked to make tangible evidence of my hopes and dreams. On paper, that is. Ironically, I’ve never made New Year’s resolutions really stick. I think it’s because I never did very well historically. Here’s a brief history lesson on why:

1990 (age 6): Take plane to North Pole to look for Santa (didn’t get past the front door; in fact, the thought of flying in a plane terrified me)
2001 (age 16): Drive parent’s lawnmower before getting an actual driver’s license (my father shunned me from riding our family lawnmower so I waited an extra 6 months before getting my driver’s license, out of spite. Eventually I rode the lawnmower and wrecked it within the first 2 rides. Not cool.)
2007 (age 22): Don’t live in Ohio because I want to live on the coast (moved to Cleveland two months after college and have lived there ever since – not that it’s a bad thing, just sayin’ it wasn’t what I had originally intended).
2009 (age 24): Learn to play guitar (I dabbled in Star Spangled Banner but never got past Hot Cross Buns. Bummer.)
2013 (age 28): Don’t get injured playing baseball, stay in my bowling league, buy a house, don’t lose money in Texas Hold’em, learn how to cook rather than just use a crock pot all the time, etc. (as you may guess, none of this came to fruition….)

So yes, most of my New Years’ resolutions have never been truly realized. But on the plus side, I’ve accomplished much from year to year: publishing two books, getting engaged, starting a writer’s group, traveling across many states via plane (which I hate), among others. In light of this, I’ve decided to keep things simple this year on the resolutions.
Here’s a top 5:
5. Don’t make too many big goals…in fact, don’t make any that require the intervention of so many others beyond your sphere of control. Pray, hope, and believe instead.
4. Make one meal that doesn’t involve a crock pot. And eat it regardless of how it tastes. Then maybe throw it out if it’s awful.
3. Remind yourself that you can drive a lawnmower now. At turtle or even bunny speed. Both are equally dangerous and you’ve done both in your day.
2. Don’t take guitar lessons…again. Seriously.
1. Just keep writing. Eventually, your next book will find its way out of you.

I think those are rather realistic for the new year. Short, sweet, and to the point without too much stress involved. That’s what any resolution should be anyway, right? What are yours this year (if you have any)? Perhaps start with something small and go from there. And even if you haven’t ever made a resolution before, this could be a fine year to start; regardless of your situation.

Here’s to 2014.