Michaeline: When Stakes Just Aren’t Important

One of the things we’re taught as studious craft writers is that the stakes are important. Stakes, well-defined at the outset and referred to as needed during the course of story, can keep the reader reading, eager to see if (or more likely, in the romance genre, how) our characters get their hearts’ desires.

But this week, I binge-watched season one of BBC’s Ghosts, and now I’m wondering if high stakes are actually a distraction from a cozy story.

Alison (white woman) and Mike (Black man) sit on the floor during a DIY tea break, while ghosts come out the wall. GHOSTS is emblazoned on the wall.
Promotional image of BBC’s 2019 comedy, Ghosts, via BBC Media Centre.
Continue reading

Michaeline: Finding Writing Hope on the Internet

A young woman weaving with ships' sails in the background

Odysseus travelled, but Penelope had to make her journey in one place. (Via Wikimedia Commons)

As I mentioned in the comments yesterday, I tend to look for approval from the outside, not quite trusting my own judgement when I approve of something from the inside, so to speak. I think a lot of creative people do.

Before Jeanne’s excellent post popped up, I also ran across the latest installment in The Atlantic’s series on writing. This month, Anna North says, “Writing is the Process of Abandoning the Familiar.” Well, she actually talks about a quote from the Odyssey, about how our hero should take an oar, walk inland, and when people ask, “What the heck is that thing?” he should offer a sacrifice to Poseidon. And, then she meanders around in an entertaining way until she gets to a paragraph near the end which made me feel much better.

She said: Continue reading

Michaeline: Death has lost his kindest chronicler

An old German print of Death as a bald man, capering through the streets.

And from now on, his fans will have deathbed visions of Sir Pterry coming to guide them to the eternal. In Memoriam.

Yesterday morning, I first saw the news of Terry Pratchett’s death on a SFF discussion group. A quick google, and the BBC confirmed that it was true. They said Terry Pratchett died in his bed on March 12, 2015, surrounded by his family with his cat sleeping on his bed.

I wonder if the cat looked up to see Death coming?

Fans know that Terry was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s Disease, and he was an advocate for death with dignity. It seems that Death had other plans for him. The last tweets on his twitter account are a charming callback to one of his most famous characters. (See the BBC link above.)

He’ll be remembered for Discworld, the fantastic set of stories that poked gentle fun at our real world. His first Discworld books were very much like Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker series in tone and humor, and I remember finding them in a bookstore in Sapporo. At the time, I lived four hours away, so I picked up The Colour of Magic (yes, it was a British edition) to read on the train, repelled and attracted by the crazy covers by Josh Kirby. I laughed out loud, and I’m sure my fellow passengers thought I was nuts as I tried to smother my sniggers. Every trip to Sapporo after that, I’d treat myself to another Pratchett until Amazon finally started shipping to Japan.

I was happy to have a new source of humor, since I’d read all of the Hitchhiker books. Then the books started to deepen and broaden. Continue reading

Jilly: Word Candy II – True Stories

Word CandyLast week I had a light-bulb moment regarding my heroine, Rose, finally solving something I’ve been struggling with for so long that I was beginning to think I’d never get there. I’d already attacked it from a number of angles so this time I decided to dig deep into her family back-story. It worked! Out of the blue I suddenly realised what had made Rose’s father, Paul, decide to leave his wife and child, and where he went. That led me to think through the way Paul’s life choice had formed Rose’s most deeply held beliefs, and suddenly everything fell into place.

I mention this because the future I settled on for Paul is based on something that actually happened to a friend’s husband back in his bachelor days. Continue reading