Okay, the chase after enthusiasm is going about like you might expect. Some good work, taking on more ambitious projects, but also debating things with people on the internet more than I should. I got over the cold, though. And I've been doing enough to keep myself in a state of sleep deprivation and lost a pound. (If you remember, these were supposed to be measures of how well I was doing.)
If I don't crash next week, I will be pleased.
This Week On The Blog
I'm going to handle the rest of this like I did last week: talk about an archetype from popular culture, and then a post about my own characters and maybe some other famous models.
*Monday: Alpha Dogs: Marshal Gerard - Dominant Public Servant
And all around schoolyard bully - but yet admirable in his own way.
*Tuesday: Alpha Dogs: My Own Cops, Soldiers and Bureaucrats
My cop characters tend to be secondary: Rozinshura, Sgt. MacGreevey, Uncle Rosie. I'll probably talk about Columbo too.
*Friday: The Plotting Game - Defining My Version of the Old Woman-in-Jeopardy Suspense
The game really starts with thinking about genre and tropes.
The Game - Saving Time on Decisions
Garrison Keillor likes to make jokes about groups of polite midwesterners, standing in the cold of a Minnesota winter, in a parking lot, unable to decide where to go for dinner. "Wherever you want to go is fine with me!" they say. "Naw, I can go anywhere. Where do you want to go?"
I am a midweseterner.
Furthermore, according to the Myers-Briggs test, I am a borderline J/P ("judging" personality vs. "perceiving" personality). I tend to test neutral on that. But I think that's just because they define percievers as people who can't stand it when a decision is made. Finality bugs them, and they have to walk the decision back and do it over. I don't have that compulsion at all. Constitutionally, I am pure perciever. I can see all sorts of options and it doesn't bother me whether a decision is made or not.
So I don't actually have trouble making a decision, it's just that exploring all the details of all the options is more interesting, and I have no drive to hit the "final answer" button. And it doesn't tend to bother me if decision is taken out of my hands. (Hey, I was the one who came out of my layoff meeting grinnning from ear to ear.)
For me, flipping coins, rolling dice and drawing cards are a great time saver.
From what I hear from other writers, some level of indecisiveness is a common problem for writers, particularly when we're in creative mode. I mean perceiving -- at least on the level of thinking through the options -- is a big part of what we do.
The point of plot wheels, and other writing games is to direct that energy into something more fruitful. It narrows the options quickly, so you can put that perceiver energy into finding a new wrinkle on that one option. You can go deeper and deeper.
The Joy of Brainstorming
I've written before about The Magic of 100 -- the way pushing your ideas further and further gets you to something new and interesting. I'll be honest, though, and tell you that I do this because I enjoy it in and of itself. (Which is another time-waster for writing: I can flip into brainstorming mode and go forever.)
So that makes two reasons why writing your own plotting game could be useful to your writing. It saves time on decision making, and it also is a practical and useful outcome to general wool-gathering. I mean, when you need to stop and screw around, you can either play Angry Birds, or you can come up with 16 categories of "Meet Cute" for your rom com plotting wheel. (Or 16 sympathetic motives for the killer in a whodunnit. Or 16 weaknesses that are really strengths. Or 16 ways to lure your gothic heroine to the basement that actually make sense to an intelligent adult human being, or even a moderately intelligent iguana.)
Okay, I just had an idea for that last one. (Pause to take notes.) Oh, and another idea, considering how Mick can sometimes behave like a Gothic heroine.... (Pause to take more notes.)
So anyway, where was I?
Next week, on the Plotting Game, I'm going to skip the overviews. I realize that the key to this game actually is in creating it, so I'm going to jump in and talk about defining a personal "genre" (or really it's a "trope" within a genre). So we'll get straight into the old-fashioned Woman-in-Jeopardy Romantic Suspense.
But I'll see you on Monday with the next edition of the Characters and Money and Power series. We'll be talking about Tommy Lee Jones, The Fugitve, and the Dominant Pulbic Servant.
See you in the funny papers.