Plot, Plot, Plot! It’s All About Plot.

Mistakes

I don’t know about you, but I am a visual learner. Show me once, I got it. For me traditional learning, reading and comprehending, are a challenge.  So I decided to read a popular Indie book to see what it had that mine did not. Trust me, this was not my usual reading material. In fact, first speed-read through, I found I could still blush — frequently.

In that first read I also noted some of the mistakes I had been so solemnly warned about in all my writing classes. Adjectives galore, long drawn out ending, telling instead of showing and big words that I had to look up. So what made this a best seller, outside of the obvious titillating factor of sex?

There was just something that caught my interest, and held it because I had to go on to the sequels to find out just how it was going to end, blushing the entire time of course. I spent a few days working it over in my mind. Finally I saw it. Plot of course. It had those elements we all strive for. It had two people with a huge problem to work through that seemed insurmountable. You wanted them to be together, but could they overcome the huge chasm of differences between them.

It was a plot woven artfully. Forget the vehicle of big words, adjectives or long drawn out ending. It was a good story. Plain and simple. An unusual problem with a dark character who had hidden goodness. A flawed heroine with an innocent heart who worked to pull her hero from the dark. That is what attracted me and prompted a second read through.

I’ve always liked character driven plots. This was character plus. Just as there have been other popular books that have been criticized for poor writing but have been so popular they became movies.  I have found the same formula again and again. No matter how “poorly” written by my instructors standards, they had the most important element, PLOT.

I’m not advocating  pushing aside good grammar and sentence structure, or all the other trappings of a finely written piece.  I still fiercely believe in editing to the max.  But in my journey to understand what makes a good book, this was an eye opener. A given. Without plot, no matter how finely written, you have nothing.  A fancy cart without the horse isn’t going anywhere.

I Want To Be Average, Not Normal

OstrichYup, you read it right. I want to be Average, not Normal. Why?

Normal is an undefinable measurement. It is also putting you in a category, giving you a name, which will classify and define you. Normal seems to be good, but can be wielded as a battering ram. For instance, “Well that’s not normal.” “Normal people don’t do that.” “Can’t you just act normal?” “I just want to be normal.”

Normal is not the sum of a human being.

Average on the other hand, is not a total. It has some boundaries, but only in what you are averaging. In essence it has no parameters. It is a broad group, instead of a narrow few. Average gives you more room. More fit the description of average, than that of normal. And remember, normal is undefinable (as far as humans).

In order to get an average you take a number and divide it, to come up with a common number. So in an average group of humans you may have a wide range of skills with a wide range of abilities to do those skills. It puts me on the same playing field as my sister. So that even though I may be a straight A student, and she a C student, our average is B.  We are closer because of the common number rather than the discrepancies between and A (very good) and a C (passing).

Since there are so many variables that make up any one human, how can we define normal? Average on the other hand, takes those variables into account and evens them out. Yet it also gives room to stretch. You can be above average, or below average, but you are still in the group of average.

Normal is to narrow of a definition, average encompasses and includes us all.  I want to be average. It’s less lonely.

Compromise and Manners (for everyday life)

I’m going to digress from my normal postings about book writing and comment on everyday life.  I was thinking about my Grandfather, who lived to be 103 years old. I admired him most for his manners. Raised in a day and age where reputation meant everything and manners were a must, he was a gentleman to the day he died.

So what would this have to do with things like gun control and government budgets? First, let me state, to find peace in my life I always try to compromise, find the middle. Politics and religion are a volatile subject even in the best of times. So note here, I’m not taking sides.

But there is a thread of common sense that dictates there is always a fair solution if both sides were to look at them. I’m not fond of guns, nor do I own one. Yet, I have no issue with my husband who owns one, for the sake of hunting deer, elk and antelope. He handles the responsibility for it with great respect. I have no issue with anyone who is responsible with a weapon, whether it be guns, rocks or a box cutter.

I do take issue when the subject gets out of hand and battle lines drawn. Hence the thoughts about my Grandfather. How are the two related?  Compromise and Manners.  Though the human heart will always have an evil side, I believe we can balance that evil with teaching compromise and manners. Again, this is a broad subject that could be narrowed down into religion concepts, laws or control, but we aren’t going there. Let’s concentrate on the simple and you may add the coloring of your political choice later.

If we concentrate first on manners, that would dictate that we listen to one another with an open mind. Hearing and weighing what the other human has to say. Having empathy with their feelings and thoughts. Then comes compromise. The great thing about compromise is neither side gets it’s way totally, but you get some of what you want. Both sides listening, hearing, then acting upon a fair division,

In my Grandfather’s day  manners kept him from offending someone else yet allowed him dignity. He always said thank you, please and opened doors. He respected his elders, even if it was only his sister who was a year older. He had sympathy and empathy and kept his infamous temper under check. Always willing to compromise because he felt peace was the best feeling in the world.

Isn’t this at the core of our disputes? Think about this day and age. Just blurt out anything hateful to get your way. Demean and demoralize, beat them down until only the strongest is standing and wins. Compromising and manners does not mean you are a doormat. But corner an animal and you get attacked.  Give that animal some room, it is much easier to deal with.

Freedom can be abused. Compromise and manners guarantees everyone has freedom. No law can create freedom.  Let’s get back to the basics of common sense. Let us teach our children manners and compromise as the beginning basics. Giving each other respect is the first step to building a strong heart and giving nature.

And that’s what is at the heart of all the killing and strife. If I respect you, then you in return feel worthy. No need to go demand respect by taking other human life. You understand then what a human life is worth. If you feel respected, you don’t feel the need to bully.

We don’t need control and laws which punish the 90 percent who handle their issues with respect. This breeds unrest, pulling away the desire to have manners and compromise. It’s then a vicious circle. We need to get back to the basics of decent human behavior.

My grandfather died a peaceful death, in his sleep, with no ill will towards anyone.  For a man of 103 years old, you’d think his memorial service would have had few family and friends left to attend. It was not so. In the end compromise and manners paid off. All the people he treated with respect, in turn, did the same for him by packing the memorial service with their presence.

This is a legacy worth leaving behind.