Monday, January 15, 2007

A Lightbulb Moment

We should not only use the brains we have, but all that we can borrow. ~ Woodrow Wilson

As always, I read the Crusie/Mayer Online Writing Workshop this morning, because there was a new post. As always, she said something that I should have already gotten through my thick skull, but for some reason, the way in which Jenny stated it made me go, "Oh. Now I get it."

It was about the antagonist. See... in my head, that's always been "the bad guy". You know: In Batman, it was the Joker (or the Riddler or...). A bad guy.

And yet, some of my stories don't have a "bad" guy. I like to think that there is conflict, but it's not always because someone nasty is doing a bad thing.

Then Jenny says:

The antagonist is the fascinating character who by pushing against the protagonist shapes the story and who, if removed from the story, would cause the conflict to disappear.

So, it doesn't have to be a "bad" guy. Well, duh.

Don't laugh... this is something I've struggled with on an ongoing basis. It's frustrated the heck out of me.

So there you have it. My lightbulb moment of the day.


In an aside, I have to tell you how much I'm enjoying the Jane Jeffrey mysteries by Jill Churchill (you remember, Tori, the ones you didn't tell me about....LOL). If you like cozies with quirky, memorable characters, these books are for you. I can't put them down.

I'm currently reading "The Class Menagerie" having just finished "A Quiche Before Dying" .... LOL... man, I'd read 'em just for the titles.


Allie Boniface said...

Love today's quotation!

MaryF said...

I'm getting overwhelmed with the Crusie Mayer blog already! But I loved last week's post by her:

on Stewart had a famous mountain climber on a couple of weeks ago and he asked him why he was still alive when so many other climbers had died, and he said that if it looked dangerous, no matter how close he was to the top, he turned back. Now that’s a smart man. But they’re never going to make a movie about him UNLESS one day he goes up there and there’s somebody up there who’s out to get him. Then our smart guy (and we like smart protagonists, we identify with smart protagonists, we bond with them, see next week’s lesson) is now in danger. Our smart guy knows a storm is coming in and he’s going to turn back but the antagonist has taken his girlfriend/father/dog and moved farther up the mountain and now our smart guy/protagonist has to do what he’s never done before, go on even though he knows it’s dangerous and dumb. Now we got ourselves a story, Mabel, because that’s going to be not only dangerous physically, it’s going to be dangerous internally because that’s going to shake his confidence, he’s doing something he knows is wrong and he’s going to start second guessing himself, and we’ve got a character/situation idea.

Which is why you put character first, so it can drive the situation. Why would you ever want to put plot first, when putting character first makes plot so crunchy?

Isn't that awesome?

anno said...

oh boy! this really grabbed my attention -- talk about hearing the right thing at the right time!

Tori Lennox said...

you remember, Tori, the ones you didn't tell me about....LOL

LOL! You're never going let me live that down, are you? *g*

zgdler - zippy geckos drive Lexus extremely radically

Ceri said...

I'm around, but badly beaten by this nasty cold. I've hardly got any sleep the last 2 nights and I'm in zombie mode right now, dreading another night like the others. What I'd give for one full nights sleep......

I'll be back to normal in a few.

bgxts-betty gave xylophones to Sharon