MusingsWritersWriting

Sage Story Advice From A Forward

As a general rule, I hate forwards.  They clutter up my inbox and generally waste my time.  I have a handful of people who email me forwards because, I suppose, they can’t think of any legitimate conversation through which to interact with me.  So, yeah, they annoy me on a lot of levels.  But once in a while a good one comes through.  One that makes me laugh or go AAAAAWWW at the cuteness (I’m a sucker for puppy and kitty pictures–which feeds into my occasional sporadic addiction to ihasahotdog.com and icanhascheeseburger.com).  Or one that contains an unexpected nugget of wisdom that applies to writing.

It’s not like this happens often.

But this week it did.

For kicks and giggles, I’ll give you the whole forward to see if you can see which one I zeroed in on.

Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you’re wrong.
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I totally take back all those times I didn’t want to nap when I was younger.
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There is a great need for sarcasm font.
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Sometimes, I’ll watch a movie that I watched when I was younger and suddenly realize I had no idea what the heck was going on when I first saw it.
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How the heck are you supposed to fold a fitted sheet?
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I would rather try to carry 10 plastic grocery bags in each hand than take 2 trips to bring my groceries in.
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I think part of a best friend’s job should be to immediately clear your computer history if you die.
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The only time I look forward to a red light is when I’m trying to finish a text.
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Was learning to write in cursive really necessary?
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I have a hard time deciphering the fine line between boredom and hunger.
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How many times is it appropriate to say “What?” before you just nod and smile because you still didn’t hear what they said?
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I love the sense of camaraderie when an entire line of cars teams up to prevent a jerk from cutting in at the front.. Stay strong, brothers & sisters !
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MapQuest really needs to start their directions on #5. Pretty sure I know how to get out of my neighborhood.
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Obituaries would be a lot more interesting if they told you how the person died.
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Bad decisions make good stories.
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You never know when it will strike, but there comes a moment at work when you’ve made up your mind that you just aren’t doing anything productive for the rest of the day.
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Can we all just agree to ignore whatever comes after DVDs? I don’t want to have to restart my collection.
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I’m always slightly terrified when I exit out of Word and it asks me if I want to save any changes to my ten page research paper that I swear I did not make any changes to.
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I hate when I just miss a call by the last ring (Hello? Hello? Dammit!), but when I immediately call back, it rings nine times and goes to voicemail. What’d you do after I didn’t answer? Drop the phone and run away?
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I hate leaving my house confident and looking good and then not seeing anyone of importance the entire day. What a waste.
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It should probably be called Unplanned Parenthood.
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I keep some people’s phone numbers in my phone just so I know not to answer when they call.
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I think that if, years down the road when I’m trying to have a kid, I find out that I’m sterile, most of my disappointment will stem from the fact that I was not aware of my condition in college.
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Even under ideal conditions people have trouble locating their car keys in a pocket and Pinning the Tail on the Donkey – but I’d bet everyone can find and push the Snooze button from 3 feet away, in about 1.7 seconds, eyes closed, first time every time…
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It really ticks me off when I want to read a story on CNN.com and the link takes me to a video instead of text.
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I disagree with Kay Jewelers. I would bet on any given Friday or Saturday night more kisses begin with Miller Lites than Kay..

SMILE —- it makes people wonder…….

While, yes, I absolutely believe there is a great need for a sarcasm font, the one that rang a bell was “Bad decisions make good stories.”

We love our characters.  We bond with them.  They are, in many ways, our children and hence we share a lot of the same sort of parenting instincts.  We never want our kids to make bad decisions (even though they inevitably will).  Same goes for our heroes and heroines.  But here’s the deal–nobody is perfect.  If your hero or heroine never makes a bad decision, not only will readers be unutterably bored, but you won’t have much of a story.  If everything that goes wrong for them in the story is a product of outside influence (yes, Pot, I know this is when I’m showing my Kettle moment), you’ll have a story, but it won’t be as deep or interesting to the reader as if your very flawed and human (or humanoid) character makes a lousy decision.  One that has consequences that blow up in his or her face.  One that makes it harder on them.  One that generates conflict, which is, after all, what good fiction is all about.

So the next time you’re puzzling over “what would my hero do here?” think about what he could do that wouldn’t be the best decision. This is particularly germane when you’re looking at stuff that happens BEFORE the midpoint on your hero’s journey, when he’s still reluctant to do what he has to do and follow the call to adventure.  If he makes a bad or half-assed decision, the consequences of which should knock him on his ass and lead to something that makes him take the Call more seriously.   And your story will wind up more interesting for it.

2 thoughts on “Sage Story Advice From A Forward

  1. I like these three: “MapQuest really needs to start their directions on #5. Pretty sure I know how to get out of my neighborhood. / Can we all just agree to ignore whatever comes after DVDs? I don’t want to have to restart my collection. / Even under ideal conditions people have trouble locating their car keys in a pocket and Pinning the Tail on the Donkey – but I’d bet everyone can find and push the Snooze button from 3 feet away, in about 1.7 seconds, eyes closed, first time every time…”

    Some of the others I disagreed with… oh, and the Word thing – I’m pretty sure that happens on documents where Word thinks “Print” counts as a change. Of course, why this only happens on some documents, I have no idea.

    As for bad decisions – great idea! I like little tips like that cos sometimes they help me get unstuck/see a little further into the story. That said, I scraped 260 words today, some in the morning and some just now. I was all set to write more but realised I was writing crappy (cliches, boring descriptions, hackneyed love interest stuff), so I stopped. I think I’ll just skip to the next scene tomorrow, since I have a vision of it and worry about writing linking scenes later…

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