Amanda Lewis

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The Importance of Friendship

This morning my little girl was watching Lilo & Stitch, and for those of you who haven’t seen it, it is a lovely tale of two misfits finding a family in each other. Their friendship isn’t exactly easy in the beginning but they grow together. The catch-phrase for the movie is; “O’hana means family. Family means nobody gets left behind, or forgotten.” Coupled with Elvis music; the movie is very likable.

Friendship is important to all stories. In fact the eight major characters have titles and are naturally common to most stories, whether intentional or not.

8 Archetypal Characters: …there are other opposing character functions that are part of a well-rounded story. Altogether, Dramatica Theory identifies 16 basic character functions, divided into 8 basic opposing pairs. (Actually, Dramatica uses the term “motivations,” but I find the term “functions” makes more sense in some cases.) In other words, to make your novel feel complete, it should include a character who… 1) PURSUEs the goal and … 2) one who AVOIDs the goal. 3) one who HELPs someone’s efforts and … 4) one who HINDERs someone’s efforts. 5) one who tries to get someone to CONSIDER a course of action and …6) one who tries to get someone to RECONSIDER a course of action. 7) one who seeks a course or explanation that is LOGICally satisfying and …8) one who seeks a course or explanation that FEELs emotionally fulfilling. 9) one who exhibits self-CONTROL (focuses on one task or area to the exclusion of everything else) and…10) one who appears UNCONTROLled (tries to juggle or reacts to many things at once.) 11) one who makes an appeal to CONSCIENCE and …12) one who makes an appeal to TEMPTATION. 13) one who SUPPORTs (speaks in favour of) any effort and …14) one who OPPOSEs (speaks out against) any effort. 15) one who expresses FAITH (confidence something is true, despite lack of proof) and …16) one who expresses DISBELIEF (confidence something is false, despite lack of proof.)

This is not to say that you must have 16 characters in your novel. Heaven forbid you should be that formulaic! Any character in a novel can fulfil one or several of these functions, and you are free to assign these functions to different characters any way you like. You can have as few as two characters, each of which takes on half the functions. Or you can have as many as 200 characters. (Though not every one of 200 characters may perform a dramatic function in the main plot, minor characters may play important dramatic functions in subplots.) There are, however, two guidelines:

1. Each function should only be fulfilled by one character at a time. Two characters serving the same function simultaneously is redundant. For instance, only one character in a scene should make an appeal to LOGIC or express FAITH.

2. No character should fulfil both functions of an opposing pair. The orphan boy, for example, cannot both pursue revenge and seek to prevent it at the same time.

(I know what you’re thinking. What if your protagonist is conflicted within himself? Couldn’t he both PURSUE and AVOID at the same time? The simple answer is no. However, what writers often do in such situations is create two characters, both of which exist within someone’s mind, who can take on opposing functions. For example, many TV shows have scenes in which a tiny imaginary angel (CONSCIENCE) and devil (TEMPTATION) sit on opposite shoulders of the protagonist, each trying to convince him to take a different course of action. Or you can create one character that represents someone’s LOGICal side and another that represents their FEELing side and have them battle it out in the person’s imagination.

1. Protagonist (pursue, consider) vs. 2. Antagonist (avoid, reconsider)

A protagonist considers the importance of fulfilling the Story Goal and pursues it, while the Antagonist tries to get him to reconsider and does everything to avoid the goal being achieved.

The powerless uncle and the elderly wizard are examples of two other archetypal characters …

3. Guardian (help, conscience) vs. 4. Contagonist (hinder, temptation)

The typical Guardian is like the protagonist’s wise teacher, mentor, or parent who helps him and guides him into doing what is right. The Contagonist (a term invented by Chris Huntley) delays the protagonist and tempts him to give up his pursuit of the goal. (This archetypal character is sometimes known as a Trickster or Temptress.)

If you are a fan of fantasy and science fiction, you are probably quite familiar with the next two archetypal characters…

5. Reason (logic, control) vs. 6. Emotion (feeling, uncontrolled)

For instance, in the various Star Trek television series, the Captain typically has two advisors. One is a Reason character (e.g. Spock, T’Pol, Data, Odo, Warf) who takes a logical approach and appears in control of his emotions. The other is an Emotion character (Dr. McCoy, Riker, Ensign Ro, B’Elanna Torres, Major Kira, Trip) who appeals to the Captain’s feelings and tries to get the Captain to pay attention to more than just the main goal of the mission.

Another example is the characters Ron and Hermione from the Harry Potter novels. Ron generally fulfills the functions of the Emotion archetype, while Hermione takes the Reason functions. (Although, there are issues on which they trade places.)

If you’re not a fantasy fan, you may recall that in several of Jane Austen’s novels, married couples take on the archetypal characters of Reason and Emotion. For instance, in Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth’s father is always rational and controlled while her mother is prone to emotional and irrational outbursts.

The final two archetypal characters are the …

7. Sidekick (support, faith) vs. 8. Skeptic (oppose, disbelief)

Sidekicks express unflinching the emotional support and faith of a best friend or pet (in some stories, the hero’s dog is actually his sidekick). They approve of the hero’s every plan, and are always certain it will succeed. Skeptics, on the other hand, are perpetually pessimistic and opposed to every plan. Marvin, the chronically depressed robot from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, is a good example of a skeptic.

You can use these archetypes in your own novels, particularly if you are writing genre fiction or any work which is more plot-oriented. They are a convenient shortcut, which will not appear stereotyped as long as you dress them up in new clothes.

Taken Verbatim from http://www.how-to-write-a-book-now.com/archetypal-characters.html; an excellent guide for (non-pantser) writers who like to use plotting.

 Is there anyone in your life whom you associate these types in your own life? I have a few (if not all) even though they usually evolve to something different as real people don’t stagnate.

xoxo Happy Monday!

Colours!

“9 Colors That Give You a Mood Boost” adapted from February 2012 Cosmopolitan magazine by Korin Miller pages 144 & 145 (for you plagiarism people out there).

#1 Red (orange-red)

If you want to be focused… Try wearing red nail polish. According to the experts red makes you pay more attention to details. Even a tiny hint of it works very well.

#2 Yellow (sunshine)

If you want to start your day with a burst of energy… Try painting your kitchen walls yellow. Something just shouts Good Morning! when you see yellow (maybe the sun is a culprit?)

#3 Purple (lavender)

If you want to be carefree and laugh… try placing a pot of violet flowers prominently in your living room. Most people associate a softer purple with happy children, so if you’re stressed out take a peek at purple. (Hmmm could this be why purple and yellow is a classic colour combo at weddings???)

#4 Green (lime)

If you want to chill out… Try using a green yoga mat. Surprise, surprise… Green is associated with nature… calming, and relaxing nature… (ahhh….)

#5 Blue (Facebook blue for lack of a better description)

If you want to come up with a cool idea… Try scribbling down thoughts using a pen with blue ink. According to the experts people who are drawn to blue are better at using their imagination. (Could this be why blue is a popular favorite colour?)

#6 Orange (pumpkin)

If you want to motivate yourself… Try using orange laces on your sneaks. Orange makes you feel more stimulated. (Maybe that’s why Halloween’s so popular.)

#7 Brown (earthy cuz I didn’t want to write dirt)

If you want to feel really comfy on a crappy day… Try hanging out at you local coffee shop. Brown rules java joints (duh Amanda), making them the perfect place to kick back when it’s yucky outside. (Hmmm one of my favourite sweaters is brown. What about you?)

#8 Black

If you want to be totally desired… Try wearing a LBD (little black dress). Ladies feel sexy in something short and black, but black itself can make you feel empowered and sophisticated, which makes you exude seductive confidence. (Hmmm is that why black is everywhere in make-up?)

And finally…

#9 White

If you want to get over a breakup… Try slipping a white cover on your duvet or quilt. According to the experts the color white makes us feel hopeful about the future. (Hmmm and I thought that the loose-leaf paper and white screen when you start a word doc was more cost-effective to produce… OMG! They’re messing with our minds!!!) Meh…

So what’s your favourite color? What do you think about where you find these colours in abundance? How does the colour of something affect your purchases or loyalties? How do you use colour effectively in your life?

Drop me a line. I love to hear from you guys!

Lothaire by Kresley Cole (a soft book review)

 

You know you love someone when they come home with an expensive book from your favorite author, not because it’s a holiday; but when asked why my s.o. replied, “because I said I would get it for you.” (So nice when they do what they said they were going to, even when you’re the one who forgot.)

Don’t get me wrong; I wouldn’t consider myself the type of girl that forgives only with gifts. But gifts are great all the same. Show me one woman who doesn’t like gifts and I’ll show you a woman whose insecure in some way about something. (Not a judgement… well maybe a little… I prefer to see it as an observation.)

Ahem… Moving along…

What I was getting at before I got side-tracked with political correctness, was the book in question; Lothaire by Kresley Cole which has the distinction of being # 11 (I believe) in the author’s series The Immortals After Dark in the Romance genre; of which I own all. I got into the series before I met my s.o. in 2007 so it’s been an easy but longtime loving collection of these books.

So, in anticipation of this instalment I read some book reviews… As expected; not all were glowing acclaim. Some were almost cruel calling it contrived, formulaic, and boring. Not the kind of review I’d want to read on my work.

So when it magically entered my hands with the love of my s.o. I opened it with mild trepidation.

I shouldn’t have worried.

As always I love this author’s work. How in earlier books (where the current protagonist, Lothaire, is a background character and sometimes an antagonist in past books) the character is largely taken at face value. In his own book we finally understand his motives, admittedly largely bad for everyone but him, but justified none-the-less.

Other bonuses with Cole’s work is her sarcastic, sometimes black humour, and her uncanny ability to make it feel possible if not completely plausible using local flavour and superstition to constantly bring in elements of reality.

As one who has read the series in order, I can’t realistically say that this book would be as wonderful by itself. I would not recommend reading them out-of-order as they work better as a cohesive unit (with a series arch) if read in order.

Also, I think it’s worth mentioning that each book has a prologue and an epilogue. The former serving as an introduction to the new character and the later serving as an appetite teaser for the story to come next (instead of the ever annoying excerpt.) I know they’re required here, as it makes it feel like puzzle pieces to the big picture that the series will reveal, but it is worth examining their relevance which Kristen Lamb does a great job of in her recent post The Seven Deadly Sins of Prologues.

Well that does it for me, happy reading all.

Any great books you’ve read in a while? Always looking for new material as I love to read and great writers read everything. 🙂

The Best Quote

I know that it’s technically Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2012 but I’m just going to ignore that and pretend it’s still Monday. On a different computer than usual so no picture today. Here’s a quote instead; “Of all the things I’ve lost, I miss my mind the most!”

So, I was skimming through one of my “other-half’s” unsavory magazines and happened to find an interview with Steven Adler (once-upon-a-time-drummer-for-the-original-Guns-N’-Roses) a recovering addict. I really came to respect his straight-shooter style on Dr. Drew’s Celebrity Rehab, and he is now sober.

Sorry. Getting off topic a little. Adler mentioned a quote originally said by Steven Tyler (Aerosmith) “If you don’t like what I have to say; don’t get mad, get better.”

Brilliant as far as writing’s concerned (and really business in general) because there is a learning curve to it that is not the easiest and takes perseverance, determination and the skin of a rhino to get through.

Before we go on, I’d like to mention that all the quotes in this post are from Steven Tyler. What can I say? The guy’s had a lot of experiences.

More quotes that are great for writers:

1) Are you going to be the one with the courage to reach your goals? “It’s like, have you got the balls? If you were waiting for an elevator and the door opened up and there was 2 people in there f***ing-would you get on?”

Sorry, Mr. Tyler, but that one’s just awful. I’m more wondering; if I were the one in the elevator would I have enough ‘balls’ to keep going if all-of-a-sudden I got an audience? (Can anyone say AWKWARD!?)

2) Are you willing to be the pioneer? “The things that come to those that wait may be the things left by those that got there first.”

Patience is a wonderful thing, but remember the fine line between patience and hesitancy. I’m guilty too. (It’s why I can see the line… most of the time.)

3) “F.I.N.E. – F***ed up, Insecure, Neurotic, Emotional”

Hahaha I had to put this one in. The next time I tell “my other half” that, “I’m fine,” I’ll definitely be thinking of this one! 🙂

So, are there any quotes that have helped you with life, career, love, or trauma? Or maybe just a random quote or joke that makes you laugh? Share up! I love hearing from you guys! 🙂

Have a great day!

Romance and Horror: not light years apart

I spent most of the weekend reading, when admittedly I should have cleaned. Unlike when I was a kid, I now find my most energetic times in the late evening or night… when everybody in my house is sleeping; it’s when I write the best and it’s when my ideas coalesce into actions.

My WIP is a romance… I honestly don’t know what other category to place it in. But everytime I mention this fact, most of the people around me groan… Movies are rarely done on romances (romantic comedy and some YA are about as close as Hollywood will come to it). In the stricktest sense Romances are about the extraordinary couple and the struggles that they face… romantic comedies are more akin to a Harlequin with jokes. Don’t get me wrong, Harlequin’s are great. But they lack an extraordinary quality. The closest to a romance I’ve seen in movie form is Twilight (but not the same; as it’s riddled with angst-ridden teens) and the classic tales from Jane Austen & Charlotte Bronte.

Wisdom, I recently recieved, is that writers should read (rocket science… no). But you shouldn’t just read your own genre, you should read and examine every genre, including movies (did a little dance for joy about that last part as my husband and I are big movie buffs). So, lucky me, Space (channel) is holding a Stephen King movie week starting… (drum-roll please! You guessed it) today!

So, in that vein, as the stars align *giggles* I decided to compare my favorite genre (again you guessed it) Romance with Mr. King’s prefered genre of Horror!

Most people would not place the Horror and the Romance genres together. But they are two sides of the same coin. OK! Lets look at a few elements that these two have and compare them.

#1 Sex & Death

Put simply in a Romance novel the two main characters have sex. It serves the purpose of bringing them together and creating a bond in them. As proved in real life relationships the dynamics change when sex is brought in. So, it stands to reason that it would be the same in the fiction world as well. Conversely, in Horror movies people die, are murdered one by one as the character becomes obsolete or does something truely stupid. Sometimes as a consequence even. In thrillers (a close cousin of the horror and sometimes an element of a horror) the death doesn’t come at all. In these movies the fear is enough and creates the same adreneline rush in the audience as death and sex. 🙂 even the French have a popular phrase for it; le petit mort: literally “the little death”. There are, of course, exceptions. One good example of a Romance with no sex (not geared toward sex-sensitive audiences) is Lynn Kurland’s “My Heart Stood Still”, a story about longing, the test of time and the endurance of the heart.

#2 Women & Men

Demographic also plays a huge role in how these stories are presented. The deep, meaningful relationships and exciting adventure are things that gear more toward women. Whereas, the pulse-pounding action, scares around every corner, death and mayhem gear more toward men… Why? Because these are things that even  the ordinary woman or man living the ordinary life can escape to a world where everything is anything but safe and still, when they put the book down or walk out of a theatre, feel safe at the end of the day.

#3 Heroine & Hero

This one kindof goes along with the demographic. In Romances, it’s usally a heroine (for the most part) and her conflict. In Horror, it’s usually a hero and his conflict. Even though there usually are major suppoting characters of both sexes, but it is easier to bring in your expected audience with a character that superficially is just like them. It’s briliant in “Misery” how the protagonist is a man and the antagonist is a woman… something that’s rarely found in romances, this role reversal works beautifully for it’s purposes. Can you figure them out?

#4 Isolation

On the other hand these two genres are similar in a couple different ways; isolation is one of them. In general, characters are thrown together early and not separated, most of the time for survival. A forced closeness creates tension. In Horror, suspition and dwindling survivors and less possibility as to who the killer is. In Romance, trust and a bond that neither is likely to break until the climax.

#5 Affirmation of Life

Lastly, another similarity these two genres share; is the ultimate Affirmation of Life. In the end the killer is defeated and the couple gets hitched. Simpler than it is, but both of these outcomes create the same elation in the audience. A sigh of relief, a cheer of triumph, or even a nod of satisfaction. The audience leaves happier than when they came.

Can you find some other examples that these two genres are similar or different? Which one do you prefer? Why? Drop me a comment! I love to hear from you!

Happy Writing Monday!

Writing in the Ether: determination

my little girl

I have decided to make Mondays all about writing… A subject some of you might not be interested in, but let’s face it; I am.

Monday is the day a week begins (obviously) and I feel better making this blog a vehicle for my goals. In that vein I wish to make each Monday a fresh start, it doesn’t matter how much (or how little) work I got done last week, it only matters that this week I have a clean slate. On Monday I can forgive myself for all the mistakes I’ve made and focus in on what I can do.

This week is chapter 1. Easily the hardest chapter in any book, because it is where you capture the audience’s attention and bring them into your world, be it fiction, biography, how-to, whatever. Nevermind how apt it is that I am beginning chapter 1 this Monday; the first ‘Writing Monday’ on my blog.

Now, as to the title.

I know that with these first blog posts I am only writing for my friends and family, but since everyone knows the old adage, “if it’s on the internet, it’s there forever” I know hope that my audience will grow and some people may go through the backlog of these posts looking for other beads of wisdom (haha I laugh at myself for writing that: but sue me; I am and always will be an optimist).

As one can see, I have doubt. I think all new writers (anybody beginning a new career really) have doubts; will I be successful? can I make a living at this? how will it change me? et all… But I think the trick is to keep your head up and ignore (for the most part) the doubtful voice in your head that whispers words like “I can’t” or “I don’t”.

I’ll impart a story that illustrates (at least for me) determination.

 My mom, (my daughter) Llyra and me all went to the mall this past autumn (November) for some semi-early christmas shopping. And Llyra got all upset as we were driving, crying hard and we didn’t know what was wrong until we stopped in the parking lot & she impromptu vomited all down her front & inside her shirt. It was a lot and it smelled awful. So I carried her (30 lbs & 2 years old) sausage-style (back to floor, chest to ceiling) into the mall food court where the bathroom was (which is not a short walk) & halfway there she got so heavy that I wanted to stop to just breathe and give my arms a rest (all her weight was on my forearms). But I didn’t. I just kept saying to myself, “One more step, just one more step. Only a little father,” because I had to get my poor little girl to that bathroom as fast as possible. All the while she stared up at me, quiet, trusting that Mommy would take care of it.
 
I know that I’ll never forget that incident, because it showed me that I have strength and determination. Willpower enough to handle whatever happens with calm dignity and swift action. (I pity anyone who gets in the way of a parent trying to take care of their child.)
 
A lot of my life parallels, my daughter shows me my own capabilities all the time and those capabilities are what I need to succeed, with her and with what I’ve chosen to do with my life.
 
So, is there anyone who’s helped you on your path? Or shown you something about yourself that you didn’t know before? Tell me your story of determination.
So leave me a comment, I’d love to hear from you.
 
Happy Magical Monday 🙂
 

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