Sunday, June 30, 2013

Connie Neiland as Mythical Heroine

I'm reading a book called The Key by James N. Frey. It's about using "the power of myth" in story telling.

It starts in with describing the mythical hero, or heroine. It lists and describes the attributes that make a hero, or heroine mythical.

I wrote The Seven Second Kiss before I found out about this but when I went through the essential attributes of a mythical heroine I was pleased to find out that Connie Neiland fills the bill.

Let me just go through the attributes of a mythical heroine and show how Connie fits them. This may be a bit of a spoiler for the book. You might like to read it first.

"The Heroine Has Courage (Or Finds It in the Course of the Story)"
I suppose the case could be made that her leaving her home to avoid the nasty consequences of an unexpected pregnancy is an act of cowardice, and that a person with courage would have stayed and taken on the pressures of an unforgiving society. That would have been a different story. Connie wanted a better life for herself and demonstrated her courage by leaving home with a desire to take control over her life in a new environment.

"The Heroine Is Clever And Resourceful"
Connie demonstrates many small instances of being clever and resourceful throughout her story, but she really shows it when she digs deep in the finale.

"The Heroine Has a "Special Talent.""
Connie has an amazing singing voice, a very good ear for music and a natural talent for interpreting music and lyrics with her voice. She very quickly picks up on and incorporates African American styling in her singing. As her friend Mae says, "She don't sing like no white girl."

"The Heroine is an "Outlaw," Living by Her Own Rules"
Connie has yet to really manifest this to any great extent. Nevertheless she did have a detective with the New York Police Department come looking for her, and she did mastermind the caper . . . well, you'll have to read the story for that because I'm not going to spoil it here.

"The Heroine is Good at What She Does for a Living"
Connie washes dishes for a living. It's hard work and it doesn't pay well. On her first night doing it she pitched right in and proved her worth to her boss and the others she worked with. They all looked on her as an asset.

"The Heroine Is a Protagonist (Takes the Lead in a Cause or Action at Some Point in the Story)"
Connie does this several times in The Seven Second Kiss. When faced with giving in to an unhappy future she takes risks and directs a great many people to change her fate and theirs as well.

"The Heroine Has Been "Wounded" (Maimed, Disgraced, Grieving for a Lost Loved One, Etc.) or is Wounded in the Course of the Story"
Just before the beginning of the story, Connie realizes that she is unexpectedly pregnant and has seen that the father of her child has been acting toward her as though she were his property. In 1935 an unmarried seventeen year old high school student with an unexpected pregnancy was indeed wounded.

"The Heroine is Motivated by Idealism--at Least at Some Point in the Story"
Connie left her home and school to get away from what she saw as an oppressive future for her. Eventually she decided for the good of her child that she was prepared to go back into that situation. There are other smaller instances where she demonstrated that.

The Heroine is Sexually Potent
Connie didn't exactly go around flaunting it. She spends the story pregnant and she does attract the attention of saxophone player, Jordan Cropper. Not to spoil it but this characteristic is again proved at the story's end.

Those are the attributes required for a character to be mythical. As you can see, Connie Neiland has them all.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Get References For What You Imagine

In the story I am currently working on with the working title, The Outlaw, I have a situation where I had an off road vehicle. I had imagined what it would look like and that worked fairly well. The vehicle was a small detail and it wasn't that important, but the way I imagined it is part of the world I'm creating for the story to take place and the characters to inhabit.

I am compiling a Pinterest board on the story with photographic references to help me visualize and describe the world that I imagine. Click here and you can go see it. I managed to find off road vehicles that very closely approximated what I had imagined. Looking at them gives me a better idea of my imagined off road vehicle and provides me with detail that I didn't think of. When I go back to rewrite the part of the story where that vehicle comes up, I'll be able to incorporate what I found from the visual references I found.

The same thing happened with the patio furniture. I had envisioned a patio setting for a meeting where I would introduce the major antagonist. When I went looking for visual references I found furniture more in keeping with the setting that was different from what I had originally imagined. In this case changing the furniture will reset the emotional interaction in the scene and allow me to make the villain much more menacing.

With the availability of so much reference material on the internet it behooves a writer to take advantage of it. This is especially true for helping a writer visualize the various aspects of the world they are creating in which their story takes place.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Dusty Miller Part 2

The progression on the growth of these plants probably isn't all that exciting but I called the first posting 'Part 1' so at least a 'Part 2' is to be expected. As it turned out the dusty miller is doing extremely well, and the plants, on the whole have become quite large. I don't expect a flower but I really don't know much about this plant. If such a thing happens, of course I will be telling about it. Will there be a 'Part 3?' I don't know.

I'll start with pictures that aren't in the daily time sequence and then put in the daily progression picking up from where I left off, which was May 30. On May 31 I added some black mulch for the plants. That succeeded in pushing back on the weeds that were beginning to sprout.

May 31, 2013

June 1, 2013

June 2, 2013

June 3, 2013

June 4, 2013

June 5, 2013

June 6, 2013

June 7, 2013

June 8, 2013

June 9, 2013

June 10, 2013

June 11, 2013

June 12, 2013

June 13, 2013

June 14, 2013

June 15, 2013

June 16, 2013

June 17, 2013

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Out of Bounds

I went to Ridgemont High School in Ottawa. This is not the Ridgemont High of the movie but the real one that actually exists.

Ridgemont High School occupies a building in the shape of a large, 'L'. It has a basement and two floors. There is an elevator. Students are not allowed to use it unless they are in a wheelchair or otherwise handicapped. The basement was largely out of bounds to students. There was a small section at one end of it where there were student lockers and a class room. Beyond that class room stood a sign on a post that said "Students Out Of Bounds."

When I went there the schedule for the day was divided into four periods in the morning and again in the afternoon. Before classes actually started at the beginning of the morning and the afternoon the students of a particular class went to what was called their home room. There, the home room teacher took roll call for the morning and the afternoon and did whatever administrative tasks that needed to be dealt with. The home room period was about ten or fifteen minutes.

Between home room period and each of the classes there was five minutes to get from one class to the next. Each time period began and ended with the school bell. In Grade Twelve the home room for my class was in that class room in the basement. In the morning we would meet in the home room and the next class was in that room, where our teacher, who had specialized in physical education, taught us English.

In the afternoon we met in our home room in the basement next to the out of bounds sign. When the bell rang to change classes we went to our Geography class, which through some kind of brilliant application of logistics and scheduling just happened to be at the other end of the 'L' on the second floor on the other side of the hall. To put it another way, the two class rooms were as far away from each other in the school as the could possibly be.

Do you see where this is going? I think you do. When the bell rang to change classes, all the students went into the narrow hallways of the school and without any rhyme, reason or order to their movement struggled through the crowded hallways to get to their next class before the following bell that sounded the beginning of the class.

In the early fall and in the spring when the weather was nice getting from home room to Geography class was a breeze. We went up the stairs, outside, across the field, back into the building and up the stairs for the class, and all was well in the world.

Come the winter and things changed. In the winter we had no choice but to go into the sea of student bodies moving in every possible direction except possibly for up. The end result of that was that we would start to arrive in the Geography class room after the bell sounded to start the class.

It didn't take very long before this completely pissed off the Geography teacher. When it first happened he was most upset, demanding to know why we were all late for his class.

"Well, sir," one of us explained, "our home room just before we come here is . . ." and we told him about the two rooms being as far apart as possible, and since it was winter we couldn't cross the field inside the 'L'.

After three days of this three times explaining the situation to him, he asked why we couldn't go through the basement. "It's out of bounds, sir."

"Why is it out of bounds?"

"We don't know."

"Well can't you do something about it?"

"We'll ask out home room teacher." Because the home room teacher was our conduit to the school administration and organization. We took the problem to the home room teacher the next day and he said he would look into it. We reported this to the Geography teacher and for the next three days, even though we kept arriving late for class, there was a period of relative peace.

After that three day period of peace, the Geography teacher once again became furious and demanded something be done. We brought it up to our home room teacher the next day. He said, "I got permission for you to go through the out of bounds area in the basement."

Well that was wonderful. When the bell sounded we left the class, walked past the out of bounds sign and then walked freely and comfortably with no other student interference to our movement and arrived at Geography class and took our seats well before the bell to start the class sounded. Everyone was happy and there was peace.

About five days later, as we left the home room class, passed the out of bounds sign and turned the corner we were met by two teachers coming the other way. They looked at us with curiosity and consternation and challenged us.

"What are you doing here? This is area is out of bounds."

Our unofficial spokes person said, "We got permission."

"Oh," said the teacher. "That's alright then."

Three days later in amongst the after class announcements for the day, on the school intercom, there was this, "To all concerned the area in the basement that is out of bounds is not to be entered by any students." The message was that permission had not been given to go there and students were not allowed to go into that part of the basement.

We were very disappointed as we would have to go back to fighting our way through the mass of class changing students and we knew we would be late for Geography class again. Sure enough the very next day, we began arriving at the Geography class room after the bell to start the class. Sure enough the Geography teacher was lividly angry. He demanded to know why we were once again late. I think he probably didn't pay any attention to after class announcements.

We explained that we couldn't go through the basement as the school's administration was enforcing the out of bounds designation for that part of the basement. We went on to explain that under those circumstances we would be late for every Geography class until spring, some four months away. He huffed and puffed but there was nothing we could do.

Three days after that there was an announcement on the school intercom at the end of classes for the day. "The area in the basement that was out of bounds is no longer out of bounds."