Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The Kindness of Strangers?

I expect to pass through life but once. If therefore, there be any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do to any fellow being, let me do it now, and not defer or neglect it, as I shall not pass this way again. ~ William Penn

Yesterday, I was out on the skating rink my icy driveway trying to chip away at the 1 - 2" ice that was in a clear sheet. I did pretty well -- at the front it was softer from the salt and sand that the plows put down and by the garage, it had some soft places from the salt and sand that had dripped off of DH's car.

I had piles of shattered ice to clear off the driveway so I started to sweep it to the lawn, but made the mistake of standing on the ice to do so. Whoop, whoop, BAM! Yup, I did that thing with my feet like I was running in place and then fell backwards -- thankfully landing on my well padded rear first, then elbow, back and head. I lay prone for a moment and realized that one of my neighbors drove by during this little production, passing my driveway as I lay there on the ice, the wind knocked out of me.

And I thought: if it had been me, wouldn't I have at least stopped, rolled down the window and shouted to see if that person was okay and not unconscious or bleeding to death? Most probably, I would have pulled in and gotten out to check, while making some remark like, "I give it a nine point five". We all know each other on this street, and while there are some not-so-fond feelings for a few of the folks, we're still all human.

And then it got me to thinking about characters and how they respond.

In the Crusie/Mayer workshop (you knew I'd get to that eventually, didn't you?), Jenny says:

"...the inciting incident may come from without–the volcano erupts–but the resulting events happen because of the way the characters react to them. They can run away screaming, they stop to save the dog, they can detour to loot the town, they can stay and sacrifice a virgin, the action they take determines their plots."
This was clearly illustrated yesterday.

I asked another neighbor later in the day what she would have done if she'd seen that happen. Her answer was, "slam on the brakes and jump out". Of course, on the ice slick that is our street, she may have gotten herself into trouble, but the point is that everyone really does respond differently to the same situation.

It's fascinating to have real life illustrate a point so nicely.


A couple of days ago, a friend of mine (who is not a writer) asked me about a story I'd sent to her to read. It's been 1-2 years since I sent that thing... and it made me think that, if it stuck with her all this time, maybe there's something to it. I actually lost the story in a computer crash a year ago, BUT had a hard copy of it -- something I seldom have on hand, but the stars must have been aligned just right, or someone up there loves me because in this case, voila!

It needs some work, but I do enjoy the characters (there are NINE in this particular short... can you believe it? I may pare it down to seven). So I'm working on that. I'm also working on a couple of potential RWA contest entries and rediscovering how much I really love one particular novel because of that. Some days I forget why I wrote something in the first place because I'm so focused on its faults, so this was nice.

And, I'm finally starting the next Jane Jeffries novel! I hate that I read so slowly anymore (actually, it's not that I'm reading slower, it's that I have far less time to read anymore).

So, this morning I get to crack open "A Knife to Remember" by Jill Churchill. I still am really loving this series.


anno said...

Oh my, you are up awfully early today. I hope it is not because of any aches or pains suffered yesterday.

I am with you. I would ALWAYS stop to see if someone were ok. But, believe it or not, some people have told me that you can be sued if the victim feels that you did not respond appropriately (whatever that may be) or feels that your help did not improve his/her condition. Crazy world, no?

Tori Lennox said...

I would have stopped, too! Seems really rude not to. Sheesh.

By the way, shall I make up a list for you of the other mystery authors I really, really like? :)

Marianne Arkins said...


I woke up at 3 a.m. because the wind was blowing our garbage cans around outside. By the time that was taken care of, I was wide awake!




But, then I will have no reason to tease you anymore...LOL

You can email me with it if you want (you have my email from your blog, right?)

qusvbqzc - Quentin usually sobs very badly, quick zip chops!

Tori Lennox said...

You can tease me about having shamed me into it. *g*

MaryF said...

You're lucky you weren't hurt!

Very cool about your friend still remembering your book, though!