Monday, March 30, 2015

Writing Excuses Master Class - Where Is My Story Coming From?

Originally, I was planning on putting this exercise off for a bit, but I'm realizing that I need help in this area.  I actually went back to the Church of Book story I was working on for NaNoWriMo, and I decided that while the setting and idea were good, the plot I was putting together wasn't.  I'm trying to come up with a new outline, and what do you know - March's theme for the master class was outlining!  So, the writing prompt:

Take a favorite piece of of media (but not something YOU created,) and reverse engineer an outline from it.

Inspired by last night's Wrestlemania, I thought I'd take a stab at outlining one of the running storylines that was bumped up yesterday.  This could be a little bit tricky, as wrestling storylines are pretty ad-hoc, depending on who's hurt in a given day.  But let's try it anyway!  Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar for the World Heavyweight Championship (spoilers ahead):

  • Roman Reigns starts as a member of the Shield with Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins
  • Seth Rollins ends the Shield and turns on the other two members, forcing all three to continue as singles competitors
  • Seth Rollins wins the Money in the Bank ladder match, giving him an opportunity to challenge for the World Heavyweight Championship anytime, anywhere
  • Roman Reigns has to leave for a few months due to legitimate injury and surgery
  • Roman Reigns comes back and wins the Royal Rumble, giving him a title shot at Wrestlemania
    • Fans are most displeased
  • Roman Reigns and Daniel Bryan (a recently returned fan favorite) compete for that title shot won at the Royal Rumble, and Roman Reigns wins
  • Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar, current World Heavyweight Champion, wrestle in Wrestlemania's main event for the title
  • Seth Rollins appears after the two main competitors have wrestled for ~15 minutes, cashing in his Money in the Bank opportunity and turning the one-on-one match into a triple threat match
    • In a triple threat match, the current champion does not need to be pinned in order for the title to change hands - any one competitor can pin/submit any other competitor to win
  • Seth Rollins pins Roman Reigns and wins the World Heavyweight Championship
So, it's not great literature or anything, but I feel like there's a pretty good storyline through this.  It's obviously not over yet - that final match left story hooks for all kinds of revenge, team-ups and the like - but it has a pretty decent flow.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Writing Excuses Master Class - Q&A on Character

Let's try to finish up February's prompts, now that it's halfway through March.

The prompt:

Sketch out the events before and after your dead-drop scene from last week and three weeks ago.

I'm going to go back to Alison and Matthew (from Take three), starting with the before.

"I think it's time to get Alison out in the field."  The statement from Veronica seemed to come out of nowhere, and neither Alison nor Matthew was expecting it.  Luthor, working away on his multi-screened computer, swiveled around in his chair to face the rest of the group.

Alison blinked bemusedly, trying to focus on the older member of the squad after staring at pages of handwritten notes for hours.  "In the field?  I...didn't know there was a field to be in."  She turned to Matthew, whom she had presumed to be the leader of their motley crew.  "Why didn't anyone say there was a field?"

Veronica stood up and began riffling through a shelf on the wall near the door.  Matthew ignored Alison's question and addressed Veronica instead.  "Do you think she's ready?  She's only been with us for a few weeks now...I'd prefer it if she got a better handle on what we do, before we send her on a mission."

Luthor snorted, turning back to his screens.  "That didn't seem to stop you guys from sending me out less than a month after I joined you," he grumbled.  "I'm still not completely sure what the hell I ran into, just that it was something I needed to run the hell away from."

"I'm not talking about anything that drastic," Veronica called over her shoulder.  "Aha!  Here it is."  She pulled a small wooden block out of a metal box on the shelf, and held it up triumphantly.  "You were saying yourself that we needed to get more intel.  Well, this will do it.  We've got our source at the market - we'll just have Alison plant it, and bingo.  Problem solved."  She beamed expectantly.

Matthew still didn't look completely convinced, but Alison had perked up at the word "market."  "So you just need me to plant that thing somewhere in the market?  I can do that.  Just say where."  She started cataloging which stalls would probably be set up today, and almost missed Matthew's sour look and abrupt gesture.  He grabbed the block from Veronica, and carefully wrapped it in one of his ubiquitous handkerchiefs.  "I'm going with her," he said in a tone that brooked no argument.  "Get up - we might as well get this over with."


Alison was still trying to decide whether to get the matching earrings to go with the necklace when Matthew strolled up behind her.  "You know, an ideal member of our team wouldn't be standing around shopping only feet away from a dead-drop," he said softly, a note of amusement in his voice.

"Yes, well, an ideal member wouldn't try to walk away without one of these gorgeous amethysts, either," Alison retorted, not looking at him.  "I do believe I need the earrings, too," she said to the woman behind the stall, who cheerfully began writing up a sales slip.  Once Alison handed over her credit card, she finally turned to face Matthew.  "Besides, it's not like you're going to tell me what exactly I just did until we get back the car, right?  So let a woman shop in peace."  She sniffed, then turned back to the saleswoman to take back her card and the bag with her jewelry.

Matthew rolled his eyes, but before he could respond, he began to hear shouts coming from the direction of the Spoonman stall.  Taking Alison's arm none too gently, he steered her away from the jewelry stall and began hustling her to the parking lot.  Alison began to protest, but Matthew wasn't having it.  "Less talking, more leaving," he muttered grimly, doing his best not to break into a run while still getting out of the line of sight of the stall as quickly as possible.  Alison, for once, took him seriously, and kept a firm grip on her bag of jewelry as she speed-walked next to him.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Sir Terry

This morning, I was fighting panic (still left over from yesterday, in fact), and so I decided it would be best if I worked from home.  I have never been so grateful for that option before.  My husband called me around 8:30am to let me know that Sir Terry Pratchett had passed.

I had the honor of meeting Sir Terry once, in 2003.  He was perfectly lovely, and signed my two favorite books of his - Small Gods and Hogfather.  He also gave me verbal permission to translate a section of Hogfather into Spanish, to use as a writing sample for a literary translation program I was investigating.

I didn't discover the Discworld books until I was in college, and for that I do feel some regret.  Once I realized the glory of the Discworld books, I devoured as many of them as I could, wishing I had found them earlier.  They gave me a sense of comfort while making me reevaluate tropes I thought I knew.

When my husband and I moved in together, we took the step of combining our libraries.  The only overlap we had were the Discworld novels, which to me, was yet another sign that this was the man for me.

Rest well, Sir Terry.  You've brought joy and laughter to so many, and you deserved better than what Alzheimer's gave you in the end.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Inadvertent Hiatus

As I'm sure some of you may have noticed, I haven't been around all that much lately.  I didn't intentionally abandon the internet, but every time I started to write about what was going on, I kept hearing that voice telling me that no one would really care.  My life is pretty good, it kept saying.  My "problems" aren't nearly as bad as some of the other people's problems.  Do you want to be that person who does nothing but complain?

I really hate that voice.  Long story short, my depression decided to tighten its grip on me for the last couple of months, and it made getting words on a page very difficult.  Depression, for me, doesn't just tell me that no one cares about what I write - it tells me that people will actively be angry or annoyed if I put my problems out into the world, or try to make them read the crap I put together (because of course it's crap, it's coming from me).  It also keeps me from telling the people around me, the people who care about me, what's going on, because I'm not supposed to be a burden.  My job is to be the one that makes everyone happy - telling them that I'm not OK is not going to make them happy, which means I fail at my job.

Have I mentioned that depression is a bastard?  Because seriously.  At any rate, I'm not sure what's caused it to loosen its grip a little - it may have been spending a weekend with good friends (and a stop to my favorite tea shop), as well as just spending time with my husband.  Either way, the words are coming a little easier now, so I should probably try to get as many of them down as I can before the depression catches up with me again.

And before you ask, I'm making an appointment with my doctor to get a referral to a psychiatrist.  While my therapist has been great, I feel like we really aren't going anywhere anymore, and I might need to talk to someone with a little more background on handling the medications, and seeing if that needs to be changed.  I'm trying to take care of myself (finally), it's just going to take some time.

Writing Excuses Master Class - Who Are All These People?

Time to try to catch up on Writing Excuses' Master Class.  This prompt is going to interesting, I think:

Pick one of the dead-drop characters from the exercise two weeks ago, and turn them into a secondary character. Now take one of the characters with whom they interacted, and write the same scene again, but from this new character's POV.

We're going to go with Alison and Matthew, the last try on my previous post for the Master Class.

Matthew was certain that Alison was going to get herself killed.  If he'd had his way, he would never have pushed this kind of job on such a green recruit, but he didn't have a choice.  He sat back in the shade of a tree, trying to keep an eye on the girl without being completely conspicuous.  "Keep going," he muttered under his breath when he saw her linger at a jewelry stand.  "You can shop later!"  He nodded to a couple of women walking by, but realized that they hadn't even looked twice at him.  There were times, he thought, where living in an age with cell phones everywhere makes it much easier to go unnoticed.

He flinched when Alison got tangled in the leash of an enthusiastic dog, holding his breath when she bobbled the package and nearly dropped it.  Finally, she scurried out of sight into the correct booth, and Matthew breathed a sigh of relief.  She had managed to pass the first test, so her training would continue.  He was happy, as he hadn't looked forward to the idea of having to remove her from the field.  He started to move toward her, but stopped when he saw her duck into a jewelry stall.  With a sigh, he slid to the ground and opened his book.  He might as well give her a few minutes to shop - she'd earned it.