When Is The Unforgivable, Forgivable?

 

Happy weekend to you all.  I hope this summer is as wonderful as summer should be.  These last few weeks have been a bit of a roller coaster.  Summer brings its usual joys including drinky dinners outside, a consistent diet of melting marshmellows and chocolate tucked into graham crackers (Are s’mores international? They feel fairly regional.), of course some outdoor concerts (OneRepublic shown below), a very special 4th of July, and a bit of baseball.

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I am sorry to say I also attended two funerals these last weeks. Lovely ladies, who both passed well before their time.  My heart goes out to their families.  They have a long road ahead.

In spite of, or maybe because of these few week of highs and lows, I have been giving a lot of thought to stories and story telling. Before the 4th, I started the process of deciding what is next for my first novel Circling and I am taking action toward next steps. I have no idea how things will pan out, but I look forward to the day it will be available to share with all of you – one way or another.

With Circling settling into a good place, I have been spending the last two days reading over the first 35,500 words of draft one of Book 2. I really need to title it already.  I hadn’t picked it up for about two weeks and this was my first go back to the beginning read-through. My memory is weird, or maybe I drink too much when I write. I can honestly say there were some surprises in there for me. Of course I know the story, but the actions and dialog surprised me in places. It felt really, really good too. I am asking a lot of dark questions in Book 2 about forgiveness and retribution, and finding right in the face of wrong. The unnerving part is that even 1/3 through, I have no idea what the answers are – morally, ethically, I’m not even sure what I believe.

I see things in black and white – good/bad, right/wrong, nice/mean, happy/sad, exciting/boring.  My thought process is very definitive. More and more, I am learning that writing, for me, is all about finding a way to think in grays (not 50 shades, though).  Villains and heroes are rarely one or the other. If they are just one facet, they are not very interesting.  Favorite villains? Hannibal Lechter, Darth Vadar, Loki (Thor’s brother for you lesser geeks). Even Draco Malfoy tugs at my heart strings.

If we can get the slightest insight as to what made a villain a villain and if they are moderately engaging, we can love them. Even as they betray our hero, we do love them and hope for them to change, but maybe even root for them (just a little) when they don’t. If they are good looking, all the better! (sorry I am not balancing my villains gender-wise here). My question is how far are we, as readers, willing to take that good will.  How much will we forgive?

I would love to get specific, but I don’t want to give my Book 2 story away.  I am going to try to find the boundaries here, and it is going to dark places, but very interesting places, too.  In the interest of research, I’d love to know…

Who are your favorite villains and why do you care about them?

 

The Movement of Inspiration

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Inspiration is a funny thing. It is everywhere or no where at all. Angel Oak, the tree above (behind my name) is outside of Charleston, SC. It is awe inspiring. The tiny snail over this post crawled his way onto my pages, inspiring as well. Music, for me, is the surest form of inspiration. In the early drafts of Circling, before giving a crap about precision or technique, just trying to “see it,” I listened to music a lot while I wrote. On headphones and LOUD (my audiologist friend is going to make a killing off me in a few years). A guitar riff can shift the action of a whole scene. One line of a song can alter a character’s entire motivation. Music is easy.

But inspiration comes from other, less expected, places. Driving down a city street, I saw a cable repair man standing in a hole gesturing with both hands facing down, pressing repeatedly, up and down, up and down, with fingers spread wide. I have no idea what he was doing, but it was a beautiful movement. It was ballet. It stuck with me and made me think about the challenge of transferring gestures and expressions to the page. That repair man gave my characters more movement. They tend to get a little static since they are busy having deep thoughts and making snappy retorts.

I tried to give that movement words all day. I still don’t have it, but trying is a good exercise.