Writing Conflict and Lessons

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Life is a circle. The end of one journey is the beginning of the next.”
Joseph M. Marshall III, The Journey of Crazy Horse: A Lakota History

I read a marvelous article recently in Poets and Writers Magazine about character development in stories and it got me thinking about real life people. Is it not true that some of the most interesting individuals you have ever met have incredibly complex life journeys?

If every thing in life was smooth, easy and breezy, our personal stories would be boring and there would be little reason for memoir writing. Out of strife and struggle comes personal growth, and by reading tales written by others we meet some very interesting characters who inspire us to become better people.

art of perseveranceThere is a book I encountered on Goodreads called Keep Going: The Art of Perseverance.  This book may be a good resource for writers who are frustrated and disappointed in their progress or at a loss for direction. Sage advice on not giving up is incorporated into this book. Rather than the typical new age jargon, wisdom of the ages from the Lakota Indian is shared through the writings. Click for info & ordering

Author Joseph M Marshall III, a Native American writer, inspires others in his workshops on character and leadership and through his other publications. Please visit his website to learn more about Marshall as a writer and motivational speaker. http://www.josephmarshall.com .

This blog brought to you by Sue Batton Leonard, author of Gift of a Lifetime:Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected.Click for info and ordering See you tomorrow on http://www.AllThingsFulfilling.com. The space where independent thoughts, words and views are all part of the business.

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Defending a Story

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The essence of the independent mind lies not in what it thinks, but in how it thinks.” ― Christopher Hitchens, Letters to a Young Contrarian

Today, on All Things Fulfilling, I’ll report my findings as a casual observer of a book club group from Dorchester County, Maryland.The New York the postmistressTimes bestselling book “The Postmistress” by Sarah Blake was discussed the day of the meeting.

In my experience, there are common things readers want to discuss about a book after reading it. The types of critique questions and discourse this East Coast book club had was not so different than any other groups I have witnessed. But, it was evident that each reader had a slightly different point of view about the story, which is why books are worth discussing. Here are some of  the ideas the members talked about:

Did the readers relate to the era of this story? Yes. Most in the book group lived through the times this story was set – World War II era.

Were the characters believable? The postmistress character, one reader said “was too ‘rigid’ to be realistic.” Others disagreed saying it was, “part of the  job.”

Did the author do a good job with character development? Some said yes. Others, no.

Was the storyline effective in evoking memories for the reader? In the case of this book, the answer was an overwhelming Yes!”

Did the readers like the ending? One “bookie” said admittedly, “it is the author’s prerogative to end the story however they see fit. But, she did not like it.”

Other points made in the discussion:
• More than one reader in the group said they “enjoyed her familiarity of the setting (small town Cape Cod),” but they were not fond of reading about war, they had already lived it vicariously through the stories of their fathers, brothers, friends and uncles.
• Another reader stated the meaning behind the narrative was much bigger than the immediate story. The book made a strong statement that “Life goes on despite war.” Note: I have found that universal lessons that go beyond the immediate story, are what makes for a very marketable book.
• One reader said “none of the stories within the book were finished.” Others defended the fact that the book left “things for the reader to figure out, in their own minds, and they like that in books.”
• The consensus seemed to be that a post office in a small town is still the center of community.

As I sat listening to the women’s discussion, I formed my own opinions about the ladies in the book group. Do return to All Things Fulfilling tomorrow as I share my general observances of the “bookies.”

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Novelists Benefit from Movies

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I would rather entertain and hope that people learned something than educate people and hope they were entertained.  ~ Walt Disney

On this Film Friday, we will share an article for the benefit of novelists. Going to the movies and watching TV has added value other than just entertainment- it can help with story writing.

If writers are attentive when watching movies and TV, there are numerous tips that can be picked up. Learn about how to draw an audience into the story from the off-set, the importance of having “meat in the story” and then how to bring the story to a fulfilling conclusion. 

From the context of the dialog in the movie, characters and their development, as well as ideas for creating mood with words can be learned . Thinking about how much detail or how too little detail grabs us or loses us, as an audience is helpful, too. 

Learn something about pacing of a story. What is important to moving a story forward? How essential is the timing of significant peaks and valleys in the narrative for the audience? 

This article  more fully describes the benefits for novelists of watching movies . http://bit.ly/KcckW7

 I am eagerly anticipating the release of The Odd Life of Timothy Green. It is a film that I think will demonstrate some of what this article talks about. http://bit.ly/KlSrK9. Disney has a way of drawing people of all ages into their creative story telling for good reason.  Happy Film Friday, everybody!

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