Writing Excuses Homework 10.7

Journal_WEsmallFrom the second Character class (http://www.writingexcuses.com/2015/02/15/writing-excuses-10-7-who-are-all-these-people/) here is an exercise that builds on the previous one. My previous exercise  can be found here: Writing Excuses Homework 10.5

Writing Prompt: Pick one of the dead-drop characters from the exercise two weeks ago, and turn them into a secondary character. Now take one of the characters with whom they interacted, and write the same scene again, but from this new character’s POV.

Beauty tugged on her leash, and Mike picked up his pace. He had tried to be home on time, he really had, but Morgan had had other ideas. He didn’t like that his dog suffered at the whims of his boss at the same time he was grateful Beauty was trained well enough to not mess the flat.

A flash of swirly orange ahead caught his attention among the grays and blacks and blue jeans. The girl in the skirt that had caught his eye turned, and Mike recognized his down-the-hall neighbor. Her blue eyes narrowed, and she turned away.

Mike watched her walk, almost as fast as Beauty was pulling him along in her urgency to get to the green. He was beginning to regret training the terrier to only do her afternoon business in the Shops Downtown lawn. It was as misguided effort to ensure that he got at least a small walk in every day, but now it just seemed like a cruelty.

Damn Morgan. He was uncomfortable thinking how his dog must be feeling.

The neighbor girl caught his attention again. She had turned to look back, and quickly turned away when he noticed, pulling the messenger bag she carried up under her arm.

Maybe he could ask her to check in on Beauty on days when he was late, he remembered she was good with dogs. Beauty tugged more urgently, and pulled him down 2nd toward the south side of the lawn. Mike filed that question to ask her later, and picked up his pace again.

Damn Morgan.


Depression vs. Anxiety in conversation

Moleskine Project: illness & recovery #15; cc-by Christopher Paquette

Moleskine Project: illness & recovery #15; cc-by Christopher Paquette

I am very candid about my mental health. In part because it is only when people are willing to discuss it that we, as a culture, can work towards removing the stigma surrounding it. In part because it helps me in my own struggles if I open up about them; I can find support if I only ask.

I am on a pretty even-keel lately with my depression – finally on a dosage of a medication that seems to be working for me. However the anxiety part of this fun chemical playground that is my brain has been acting up of late. My doctor has prescribed a different medication for the anxiety, to be taken as needed, because, unlike the depression, the anxiety isn’t a constant thing – just something that needs to be dealt with when it rears it’s annoying head.

I’m still working on the correct dosage for that, and remembering to carry the anti-anxiety meds every day, and acknowledging when it is time to take them – when it isn’t something that will pass without the medication.  But I accept this as part of the process, like learning how to manage the depression was a process, and not just an out-of-the-box answer.

But the most difficult thing I have found about managing my anxiety is talking about it. Not for any fear or associated stigma, but because of language. When people ask me what’s wrong, and I say I’m having a difficult day because of the depression, for the most part people get it. When I say it’s because of anxiety, their next question, 9 times out of 10, is “What are you anxious about?”

Nothing. Not a damn thing. I know that I’m doing okay, and that the sudden hyper-awareness of my heartbeat, and that weird sense of dread that something isn’t right (or that I just need to get away from where I am, STAT) is due to an annoying entity in that chemical playground throwing balls at me that I can’t dodge (I think this metaphor is falling apart, oh well).

And due to the confusion the language causes, I find when I am trying to deal with the anxiety, I am less likely to reach out to my support network, because I don’t want to face that question. Because I don’t have a good answer for it.

I think I may take up the “bad brain day” that Sandra and her family use. It could be a catch-all for both the depression and the anxiety, and remove the dread of that question “What are you worried/anxious about?”

Writing Excuses Homework 10.5

Journal_WEsmallWriting Excuses, season 10, episode 5 (http://www.writingexcuses.com/2015/02/01/writing-excuses-10-5-what-do-you-mean-my-main-character-is-boring/) homework: Take three different characters and walk them through a scene. Convey their emotional states, their jobs, and their hobbies without directly stating any of those. The scene in question: walking through a marketplace, and they need to do a dead-drop.

Robert stormed past the silks merchant, and didn’t bother to apologize – or even stop – when he knocked the rack of batik scarves into the muddy street. I’d be his luck if Lucio picked up the complaint, but even that he could live with. As long as the bastards who’d roped him into this were caught. He’d perform to the letter of their demands – it was the only way to ensure Viol’s safety, but he sure as hell planned to trod all over the spirit.

Next right, two doors past the milliner’s. He couldn’t bring himself to knock the newest sun hats to the street, but he bumped hard into the table, and grinned fiercely when the awning post fell, dropping the floral cloth to the great protest of the woman behind the table.

That should be enough  to get the cameras to follow him, but sometimes Miller could be stodgy, especially if she thought she could save money, so he swung the wretched black bag into a stand of cheap paste jewelry, knocking dozens of impressive looking fakes to the ground and stepping on a few for good measure. And because this shop had a reputation for some real forgeries, though he hadn’t yet been able to prove it, even Miller couldn’t ignore this. Reigning in his pace, and slipping a placid look on his face, though he was cure his eyes would give him away if the scum were close enough to see, Robert turned the corner and approached the drop site.

Abi couldn’t help looking over her shoulder. Again. There was no one following her that she could tell. Again. She’d been certain that Mike and his wire fox terrier were following her, but they turned off at 2nd, and she remembered that was the regular walking path from when she’d watched Beauty last year.

She tucked the messenger bag more firmly under her arm, the preservation box digging into her side as she sucked air in through her teeth and focused on keeping her eyes forward. Just act natural, she thought, rubbing ink-stained fingers over her damp palm. Natural.

The light at Pine was flashing, and she jogged across, side-stepping what looked like a corgi- retriever mix, and slowed to a normal walk. She just had to get to the picnic table on the north lawn, find the identical bag, and make the switch. Keep walking with whatever the hooligans on the other side of this grand scheme thought an original Shakespeare folio was comparable to, at least in shape and size.

Rubbing her hand on her pants, Abi entered the shop-lined park and glanced around. Full with the after-5 walkers, like she expected. She looked at the table, saw the abandoned bag. But a pair of poodles was headed that direction, their owner’s attention on their phone, but still, best wait a minute.

She shifted the bag again and took three measured breaths, wondering how they would have chosen the size of the replacement, and hoping it was information from wikipedia, the same information she had used to create the forgeries in her bag.

The path cleared, and with one last deep breath, Abi headed to the table.

Twitch didn’t like doing the dirty work. That’s what grunts were for. Only there weren’t any around. In lock-up, or scared off by The Johnnies. Or worse, in rehab. Hands drifting toward nose were quickly redirected to running through too-long bangs. Better to look nervous than itchin’.

It’d been too long since Twitch’d been on the streets – didn’t hardly recognize any of the faces peering up from the cardboard rooms and stairs. Only the suits hadn’t changed. Clipping along to their high-rises and coffee shops and bodegas.

Pro’lly one of them wanted the bag. Course maybe it was just a better place, more people, that anyone could get lost in. Damn city centers all the rage, if you listened to those talk radio reports.

Could just as easily been Frankie from 3 doors down. Twitch didn’t care, really, ‘cept to get the cash. Fat roll, should be. But never count it onsite. Remembered that much from days being a grunt for someone else.

Damn, felt like too many eyes around. Reporting back and out, maybe to the radio folks, or maybe to cops. Twitch tugged again at bangs, counting. Third can past Gloria’s with the faded paint. Stumble, drop one of the two brown bags next to the trash. Five more steps, tie shoe, retrieve bundle taped under the mailbox.

Twitch stood, rolling shoulders. Despite the mayor’s big talk on crime prevention, it was pie. Twitch sniffed, sauntered back to count the roll.

Not sure how I did conveying the three things I was supposed to for each character – feel like I drifted more into character voice, than anything. And apparently “marketplace” was the hardest missive of all.

Writing Excuses Homework 10.4

Writing Excuses Season 10, Episode 4: (http://www.writingexcuses.com/2015/01/25/writing-excuses-10-4-qa-on-ideas/)

Take one of the ideas you’re excited about, and then audition five different characters for the lead role in that story. Make sure they’re all different from each other.

For this exercise I didn’t pick one of the story ideas from the previous exercises, rather a short story idea that I am trying to write. I had a conversation with my sibling yesterday, and decided that my main character, Garret, would need a mage traveling with him for part of the journey. I am using this exercise to audition mages for him, and each brings something different to the table, I think.

What I was really interested in exploring was the different motivations that the mage would have for coming along with Garret – so mostly backstory. My next pass would be to explore more the ROAARS traits I learned about in the Writing The Other book and workshop.

ONE: Young male who is just out of an apprenticeship with an older mage. He doesn’t have much power, but has a few areas he is good at (communication, blocking gods), but he would really rather work with creating magic imbued items. He doesn’t like people/ dealing with them, and would rather work with things. He agrees to accompany Garret because of the lure of an opportunity to study the medallion in the hopes of seeing how it works, and maybe reverse engineering it, and kicking off his career that way.

TWO: Middle-aged woman, a refuge of Kendar. In Kendar, all women with the magic spark are required to be clerics, and the men mages. She left Kendar at an early age when she decided she didn’t want to be a cleric. She snuck across the border with the aid of a beloved mage Uncle, who helped her to train. Uncle recently died, and left her alone. She has decided to travel the kingdoms now that she is not tied to her Uncle’s whims, and this job seems like it could be interesting.

THREE: Middle-aged man, who was one of the apprentices / young mages who helped the elder mage to create the medallion. He has second thoughts about leaving something like that with a child (there are better uses for such a powerful object), and is trying to get it back. He found out Garret is a mercenary now, and has been trying to find him. He just found the mercenary camp, and had planned on following the group Garret was leading on their next mission, but Garret bailed.

FOUR: Young female mage who hates the gods. She has twin siblings (brother and sister) and their life was hell as people distrusted them. It impacted the entire family. When she was found to have the spark, she went mage, not cleric, because it was the gods and clerics who made life difficult for her siblings/ family. She wants prestige and power so she can counter the negative impact the twins have had on the family name. She is trying to get practice blocking the gods, so this is a great job for her. She is a mediocre magic level.

FIVE: Older mage who believes the gods shouldn’t be controlled. Dislikes the fact that the priest are collecting artifacts, and once she hears that Garret thinks the medallion was stolen to take it to the priests, she’s in. Her aim is to take it, and destroy it.

Writing Excuses Homework 10.2

For the exercises from season 10, episode 2,(http://www.writingexcuses.com/2015/01/11/writing-excuses-10-2-i-have-an-idea-what-do-i-do-now). I am using the story ideas from both my first and second pass at the 10.1 homework.

The short-hand titles for my ideas are here:

  • Hologram playdates
  • Adopting for Status
  • AIs seeking base code
  • Animal religion
  • Judgemental coyotes
  • Celestial custodian
  • Stardust
  • Binary life
  • The good evil
  • Church for sale

Exercise: Using last week’s five story ideas (or five new ones):

Take one and change the genre underneath it.

The Good Evil — From Fantasy to Contemporary.  Large corporation (& wealth / greedy CEO) aims to make money, and devil may care of the consequences. Its actions, unpopular and highly criticized, and selfish, end up saving thousands of lives and the CEO is touted as a genius.

Take one and change the ages and genders of everybody you had in mind for it

Stardust — Had imagined as middle age man and maybe a 20 something first mate / son. Change to old woman running the Stardust ship, and is doing so with a young girl / stowaway / orphan.

Take one and have a character make the opposite choice.

Celestial Custodian — Woman deity loves a man, and had set him to an impossible task to keep him. She admits she’s in love with him, and sets him free. Her admitting her feelings makes him respect her. Does he leave – she go with him? Does he stay – but it is uncomfortable – what is the consequence of her admitting it? If he stops cleaning the stars – do the stars go out? The universe die? Make the custodian a woman.

Take two of them and combine them into one story.

The Good Evil + Church for Sale — The evil corporation buys a church, and gets all the followers. The corporation tries to use them for its own ends, but it ends up being loved by the parishioners who go out and change the world.

Celestial Custodian + Hologram Playdates — Woman knows her love is dying, and inserts him in holograms where there is a version of her; she gives him an unfinishable task because it is the time out of the hologram that would kill him. But she cannot interact with him, so he lives, but she’s alone.

Could combine the AI stories Binary Life and AIs Seeking Base Code

Could combine the Celestial Custodian and Stardust story


So as you can see, these are still works in progress/ still some stuff to work out on them. So they are not complete ideas, but a place to pick up. And I think some of them have potential with a little more thought.