Stepping into the forest of my mind

Stepping into the forest of my mind
Just as every journey begins with a first step, every story begins with the first word.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Story Genius Course: Internal and External Plots
I'm still hammering away at
the Story Genius course. It truly
is a difficult but impressive way
to analyze your writing.
Besides the constant thinking of “why does [anything and everything] matter to the protagonist” in the Story Genius method of writing and creating story, Lisa Cron and Jennie Nash, the two key editors and writers in the course, want us to develop an internal and external conflict for the protagonist to battle.

            I have no problem with this in my fiction. In my YA short stories, my protagonist is always battling some familial or friend issue on the inside while she is traipsing through a national park battling real life problems trying to save both herself and usually a younger sibling on the outside. These two conflicts, the internal and the external, converge and sometimes clash at the epiphany or “aha” moment where our hero discovers how to overcome both problems and save the day. 

            But in my memoir about attending college as a mother of five, it’s not that dramatic. In memoir, everything must be true. I can’t make it up.

            So I told my editor, in order to find resolution to my internal and external problems and struggles with inferiority in the memoir, I graduated from Penn.

            Guess what she said? …Right! “That’s just surface,” [wait for it] “go deeper.”

The internal problem must become a new way for me to look at a particular situation in life.  In other words, the editors of Story Genius want to know what college MEANS to Victoria.  What is pushing and driving the protagonist to go on – what’s making Victoria go to college? What keeps her continuing to complete a degree?

College was a method to better educate myself in order to help my children, especially my firstborn who is perceptually impaired.  She was the impetus for me to begin college at that time.  Ever since the school counselor implied that my daughter couldn’t handle college, that the special education department felt she would never be able to obtain a degree, I decided to be sure she can at least have that opportunity because I never had the opportunity to attend college.   

What does college mean to Victoria?  Although Victoria always wanted to attend college herself because in her mind college equaled intelligence, by the time she is a mother of five children, college equals the voice of reason in the educational journey of her children.  Teachers, counselors, and the learning consultants at school gave their educated opinion that my daughter, with her learning disabilities and ADHD should not go to college. But she wanted to be a kindergarten teacher. How can a mother not allow her child the opportunity to at least try to see if she can do it with my assistance as I’ve helped her all through her school journey thus far?

Fellow faithful blog followers, did I go deep enough this time?  What does college mean to you?  Thanks so much for any insight you may offer. 

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Insecure Writer’s Support Group: What is your favorite aspect of being a writer?
For me, I like creating new adventures to explore in my YA short stories. I like finding ways to get my kids—in the stories, in the stories!—into trouble.  Of course, I always find a way out for them.  Sometimes I need to be ingenious about it. But that’s the fun of story writing. Creating a believable world and populating it with genuine characters the reader can connect to.

            It’s not only the sci-fi and fantasy writers who need to create a world for their stories. All writers need to create a logical world where characters and creatures alike live out a storyline.  I’m a concrete thinker, so my stories are based in reality, yet I control what happens. I love nature and mountains and forests and hiking, so some of my stories take place on mountaintops or in forests. But the beauty of fiction is that I can create the tension; I can create what needs to happen to make the story interesting. I can create the inner struggle of the protagonist. And I can create a satisfying ending, because it doesn’t need to be true.

            I also write memoir.  While the writer knows what happens in memoir because it’s a narrative from life, it still needs to be written like a story and offer insight. I believe this makes memoir a bit more difficult to write than fiction. 

What do you think? Is fiction easier to write than memoir where everything needs to be true?

Thanks so much for stopping by Adventures in Writing and leaving a note. This post was written for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group.  We post on the first Wednesday of every month.  To join us, or learn more about the group, click HERE.