Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Onto the next hurdle

I've been stumbling over Valerie.

Valerie is one of the two characters in Game Night that it is my job to write a chapter about and she's driving me crazy. Billy was easy - he's violent, drugged up, plagued with insecurities, and I know the actor who will play him. Plus I've been dying to write a boxing story so it was a natural fit.

Valerie, on the other hand, is a contradictory character. She's laid back yet extremely insecure with men. She's smart but easily manipulated. She's a mess, but looks fine on the surface.

I know the setting of the story and I have an idea for a character she needs to meet. But beyond that I've been having a hell of a time coming up with a story that had an actual plot instead of just lots of dialogue as two characters walk down the street.

So I used the old standby teaching method. Today I didn't have the books yet that I thought I'd get for my second period, so I had thirty minutes to come up with a lesson plan and no time to go make copies. So I said well, what do I need them to learn? And I looked around the room and said well, what in this room can I use to get them to learn it? And I came up with a lesson plan about audience and connotation and it ended up being a textbook example of how to do a lesson, the kind they teach you in those useless methods classes. Go figure.

So for the story last night as I drifted off to sleep I started really thinking about Valerie and what I need her to learn in order to get her to the end. What is her arc? Now what in this setting can get her there?

Most of my stories - probably most of anyone's stories, really - come from my own experiences. Over the weekend my shower head stopped working properly and reduced it's water pressure to the oomph of something with no oomph. I was all set to call the landlord, then I took the shower head off, inspected it and discovered that the filter had turned sideways and blocked the flow. I fixed it and turned on the shower and today my muscles are visible because the water rinsed all my skin off. And I celebrated by singing the Pussycat Dolls song "I don't need a man" repeatedly to the cat as I did a little dance. He was not alarmed. He's kind of used to that behavior from me.

So I thought about Valerie's insecurities and I thought about the joy I felt in independent problem solving and I realized that Valerie needed that feeling. Then I realized what she has to do. She has to solve a problem by herself. Then I have to figure out what in my setting provides her with that opportunity. I've got a few ideas.

And that's how plots are done. Yay, me.

1 comment:

  1. I've dated many Valeries. You just let me know if you need the chauvenistic angle on her, and I'll be more than happy to be your muse. ;)


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