Monday, September 16, 2019

#LOVE + #Heroes and #Villains: Unbreakable and Writing Lessons

While I may find writing romance to be terrifying, I do appreciate real, true love.
My in-laws, Mary and John (Sr) just celebrated their 61st Wedding Anniversary!
My parents will celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary in October!
That's some real, true love.

Love is real.
It's amazing.
And, it's worth writing about.
My current rough draft WIP is contemporary romance. 
Current title: Once Upon a May.

I also like to write about Heroes and Villains. 
So, most of the post below is a re-hash of some old thoughts on Heroes and Villains, part of a Heroes and Villains series I'll be continuing once a month, as I revise my novel Anomalies.

As a lover of the worlds within worlds of all things Story, I have a special love of Heroes and Villains, be they “super” or just natural in their home environments of Earth, Middle Earth, Narnia, Gotham, or the MCU.
For this post, my focus is the 2000 movie Unbreakable written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan.
Description from IMDb: A man learns something extraordinary about himself after a devastating accident.
Description from Amazon: Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson star in a mind-shattering, suspense-filled thriller that stays with you long after the end of this riveting supernatural film. After David Dunn (Willis) emerges from a horrific train crash as the sole survivor — and without a single scratch on him — he meets a mysterious stranger (Jackson). An unsettling stranger who believes comic book heroes walk the earth. A haunting stranger, whose obsession with David will change David’s life forever.
Why this movie? 
Honestly, I watched this movie for the first time in 2018 while researching heroes. And, I came at viewing it in a backwards kind of way. I heard Shyamalan was coming out with a new film. Then, I found out it was part of a series of movies focused on super-powered individuals. The series starts with Unbreakable.
I don’t know how I missed it when it came out, but I did. I’m glad I was able to watch it, especially after watching several films in the DC and MCU. I needed something just a little different. You know that yen for something “the same but extremely different?” Unbreakable delivers.

Reasons I love Unbreakable (while trying not to spoil it):

We start with a scene in which the main character attempts to do something wrong, instead of something right. I thought this humanized our hero in a humble way. There’s a minor redemption story arc (I like those).
I loved the way the camera angles reminded us that we were with the main character but not necessarily in his head, as we watch the opening sequence from between two train seats (the view of a child), to other moments with his family, and some moments where we are just with him, focused on his silent pain of not knowing how to accept his gift, which he has ignored for most of his life.
I loved the way the main character struggles with his daily sadness and what brings him out of it. Characters who struggle internally and externally at the same time are awesome!
The main character struggles with the idea of having a gift.
The main character can’t communicate well, even with those he loves. Bruce Willis rocked this part – believe me, if you haven’t seen it, see it! It proves that not every scene needs dialogue, or at least not dialogue with words. Of course, I wondered how the script was written. How many expressions were mentioned inside parentheses and how many were based on Willis and the director working together to create great film?
Self-sacrifice is shown on a deep level.

What I learned as a writer/storyteller:

The hero needs a flaw. (Captain Obvious, I know, but sometimes I forget.)
The angle of the story does not have to be told all the time from the hero’s POV.
 Internal and external struggles must work with and against each other.
An immediate acceptance of gifts is not all that realistic for every character.
Dialogue does not need to be about spoken words. (I need to print that idea and put it on my desk.)
Self-sacrifice is not always about the hero jumping in front of a bullet. Yes, that’s heroic, but . . . there are other ways to sacrifice, especially if it’s done for love. It’s not even always healthy, especially if there’s miscommunication. (See the movie.)
There are other reasons I love this movie, but I don’t want to spoil it for anyone. Fasten your seat-belts for some unexpected twists.
Other posts on Heroes and Villains: Know Your Origins: It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's ...

Monday, September 9, 2019

Why Contemporary Romance Terrifies Me

Many, many thanks for all the awesome comments and visits on my post last week: #TheIWSG Story Locations and a Terrifying Project. I have tried to get around to everyone's blogs and comment on your posts, but did not quite keep up with the conversation in the comment stream.
So, if you missed it: the terrifying project is, as some guessed, contemporary romance.


Why Contemporary Romance Terrifies Me

Picture from: Nasrulla Adnan (Nattu) from MalΓ©, Maldives

First let's tackle the romance terror/trepidation area.

I am happily married, but romance is about the falling in love part and I hated all the dating awkwardness of my youth. Who finds any of those moments truly romantic? Really. The awkward, terrifying, "does this guy like me or has he just been hanging out with me because he wants my best friend's phone number" moments. (Yes, I met guys like that. Too many.) Or the "I thought we were just having a fun conversation about books, but now he's flirting heavily and I am so not interested, but don't want to treat him like dirt" awkward moments. Does anyone really like those moments?


1. I used to say I would never, ever write romance.

2. Although I have written a few romance short stories, writing something novella to novel length requires time and concentration on a genre that I feel is not my strength.

3. I think getting the right amount of "warmth" versus "heat" is a struggle. I don't want to write "heat" but I do want to make sure the characters are interested in each other. 

4. The story I'm writing includes my faith, but I have also described the main character's interest in the guy's hotness so it's not an all emotional-intellectual-spiritual connection, there's some physical interest there, too. According to some genre and publisher websites, this is a no-no. Clean, Christian romance means not even mentioning the guy's general sexiness. 

This has never completely made sense to me. I fell in love with my husband's brain, heart, soul, and body. I didn't ignore the physical attraction between us just because we were falling in love in a serious way that included meeting each other's families; going to the movies; running, walking, and hiking together; going to church together; and praying. We also spent time making out. I know, I know TMI and "old lady" dialogue issues are starting to feature here. 

So let's move on to the issues surrounding contemporary writing.

1. I think contemporary is tougher than fantasy or science fiction because one must know the "real" world well - which means understanding current standards in dialogue, setting details, and trends.

2. I am a nerdy person, and trust me, I do not know all the current language features used by teens and young adults. My daughters point this out with some regularity and my husband and I had a lesson in correct emoji use recently from a young man at our church, as in "do not use these emojis ever."

An emoji faux pas example: My youngest daughter told me the one eyebrow-raised-smirk-face emoji is a actually a flirtation-with-sexual-innuendo emoji - and that is so NOT what I meant by it when I sent it do my daughters and friends (it's just so embarrassing - agh). 

For an example in dialogue issues: when my oldest daughter uses the word "toasty," she isn't talking about warmth, she's talking about anger and irritation. 

3. I don't think even the urban dictionary can keep up with all the trends - driven by memes, Gifs, and pop cultural references. However, I did find Emojipedia to be helpful.

Yet, still somehow, my current rough draft is: contemporary romance.

The characters, dilemma, and setting popped into my head and I'm writing it anyway with a "send it" mentality.

I decided I can work out all the problems in revisions with a helpful editor and beta readers.

When it's scaring me too much, I work on revisions for my superhero teen novel and that makes me feel mostly comfortable because I love fantasy and science fiction. Superhero stories blend fantasy and sci-fi elements that work well in my imagination head-space.

I say mostly comfortable because it's contemporary, too, and that's one of the areas that's caused me the most problems and why it's in its sixth revision.
Trust me, no emojis have been harmed in the writing of Anomalies.
Because I didn't include any.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

September 2019 #TheIWSG Story Writing Locations and a Terrifying Project

Founded by Alex J. Cavanaugh, this encouraging hop usually makes my month brighter!
Check out our website here: Insecure Writer's Support Group

Awesome Co-Hosts:
Doreen McGettigan  

Optional Question: If you could pick one place in the world to sit and write your next story, where would it be and why?

I love writing anywhere - my car, on my couch, in the special writing chair (I write too much there and hurt my back), in bed, at the dining room table, at my desk, in coffee shops, in dance studio lobbies (when my daughters danced), waiting rooms, and even at kayak races. I've written at home and abroad, on airplanes, trains, and buses. 

However, I just visited this beautiful place - The Dungeness Spit Lighthouse. It's possible to volunteer there for a week as a docent. I would love to do that someday.

View from the top of the Dungeness Spit Lighthouse on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington


The Dungeness Lighthouse

If you can't read the sign it says: Serenity and Reality 5 miles. 
(The walk to the lighthouse is 5.5 miles from the parking lot.)

A Terrifying Project
I decided to write something I'm terrified of writing. It's not horror. 

Can you guess what genre it is?
If you can, post your guess in the comments.
I'm not going to reveal much for now because of my post I wrote near the end of August about Book Graveyards (A post title I borrowed from Krystal Jane's post in August). 

Happy IWSG Day!!!

Today is the last day for:

And, this is the plan for Instagram this month (I was struggling over a desire for perfection for this, and finally decided I just had to go with what I have):