Cole: A Singularity Story

I noticed the sensation of my head deep in a barrel with one hand alternating between scraping around and holding me up the first time I read this book. I’m realizing now why I don’t like some of these plots. I understand them as plots, but the author inconsistantly outlines each archetype. Rather than methodically analyze each plot and present a symbolic outline he book-reports a movie matching his idea of that plot. When he draws me into specific characters by name and situation the effort obscures the blueprint not elucidates it.

Sigh.

Theme – Discovery. Personal discovery not adventuring for treasure and glory.

Setup – Cole is everything you’d think a college student would be. Growing up, unsure about the future, trying to find a girlfriend, but wary of how to do any of those things.

Hook – After having a great night at a dorm sponsored end of semester bash, Cole discovers his well-meaning buddies bribed his date to go out with him.

Plot Point 1 – Cole determines to transfer schools so that he can clear the slate and find a girl without the risk of a setup, but he can’t leave till the end of the second semester without forfeiting most of his fees.

Pinch 1 – As the Spring Semester Bash approaches, Cole’s friends badger him about maybe being gay.

Mid-point Twist – Back home for Summer Break Cole meets a nice girl, Anna, working at the coffee shop he frequents. They hit it off.

Pinch 2 – Anna mentions to Cole that his mother encouraged her to befriend Cole because Mom worried he might be gay. Clearly he can’t find a girl on his own or worse.

Lull

Plot Point 2 – Cole accepts that he’s either gay and too scared to confront that situation or that he’s completely ineffectual at meeting girls and never will without help.

Conclusion – At a 10 year Homecoming Cole and friends gather for a BBQ at Cole’s home. Their married-with-kids lives contrast with his own single-guy life, but he’s comfortable with his choices.

I forced some of this into the plan I had before I wrote the Hook. Usually I save the hook for after or partly through rather than start with it populated. In this instance I populated it and immediately had a nearly different story to head down.

If I returned to this I’d examine the hook and either better craft it for leading into a more appropriate story or I’d redo the hook itself. Make these two parts match up better than they do.

431 words on day 675

Red Roy

I’m not a fan of this one either as I predicted I wouldn’t be yesterday, but I do think I’ve come up with a good idea of how to work it as best I can.

Theme – Maturation

Setup – Darcy, a girl from Lawrence, Kansas, attends the University of Missouri as a nursing student. She is in a serious relationship with a young man from Virginia (he’s doesn’t appreciate her major). Neither can stay in Columbia for the summer, but neither can go to the other’s hometown (for some super valid sounding reason).

Hook – Darcy’s tearful good-bye to her college boyfriend who is returning the Virginia for the summer following Finals.

Plot Point 1 – Darcy decides she can’t spend the summer after her Sophomore year in college moping around her parents home; she joins a scout friend of hers at a summer camp in New Mexico as a camp counselor.

Pinch 1 – In a backcountry rockclimbing camp officially named Arroyo Rojo but affectionatly called ‘Red Roy’, a camper hanging a bear bag for the night slips on a rock and breaks his arm. Everyone turns to Darcy; she turns out to be so nervous as to almost worse than useless. Darcy quits her position at Red Roy, but the camp director convinces her to at least stay on at base camp in a role that won’t put her at risk of working with injuries.

Mid-point Twist – bushwhacking back to base camp for days-off, Darcy comes upon an advisor stumbling in the woods; he collapses and is unconcious before she can speak to him. She starts CPR.

Pinch 2 – Doctors arrive on scene hours later and pronounce the advisor dead.

Lull – Darcy talks with with her Red Roy friends around a campfire about the incident..

Plot Point 2 – bah!

Conclusion – I’m skipping to this part because I can’t stop the different scenes needed for all this from flooding in. I’m not sure how to organize them best to make this all work out or exactly how far back to Mizzou and Darcy’s boyfriend I need to go. If it’s maturation then is seems like I ought to get her back to school for the contrast, but i can’t figure out wear to put all the action just yet.

376 words on day 671

An Unknocked-up Andreina

Ronald B. Tobias tells me the Adventure plot is up next. He informs me the difference between a quest and an adventure resides in the locations both within the character and without. So, this plot should stress physical plotting over mental plotting. And should probably occur in a different country at each point.

Theme – Love is a South American Adventure

Hook – A broken ticket scanner, a dyslexic airline employee, and our smart phone distracted hero, John, join forces to board flight 785 to Caracas, Venezuela instead of flight 758 to Houston, TX during the Christmas holiday.

Plot Point 1 – Once in Venezuela John falls in love with Andreina, the local woman helping him arrange travel back to the states, and decides to stay.

Pinch 1 – Andreina locates John’s ‘stolen’ wallet and ID.

Mid-point Twist – Because of some obscure American/Venezuelan emigration rule (that I’ll have to fabricate or find flimsy legal precedent for) John discovers that he will be forced to live in Venezuela for the rest of his life, never to return to the States.

Pinch 2 – While traveling along the beach and border with his new lover Andreina, John becomes separated and crosses into Guyana where he is arrested and not allowed to return to Venezuela, but may get deported to the States. (dunno)

Lull – Cooling his heels in jail, John accepts his situation and tries to enjoy the recent past as if it were a fleeting dream.

Plot Point 2 – John overhears evil guards joking about Andreina being pregnant.

Conclusion – With a combination of broken Spanish and a smattering of newly learned Portuguese, John convinces the pilot of the plane taking him from Port Kaituma back to a direct flight out of Georgetown to go to Caracas instead. Once on the ground he flees the plane, finds an unknocked-up Andreina, and lives happily ever after.

314 words on day 640

Taking a Stab at This

Let me just start this off with, “Crap!”

In fairness I should share that I’ll be using plot architypes found in my copy of Writer’s Digest Book’s “20 Master Plots” in times of need.

First up, quest plot…

Theme – Doing the right thing.

Hook – Under the bleachers at a HS basketball game our hero, Janet, nabs a rival girl’s cell phone.

Plot Point 1 – Discovering the cell phone didn’t belong to the rival girl, but was stolen by her, Janet figures that an enemy of an enemy is a friend and decides to locate the owner and return the phone.

Pinch 1 – The battery on the phone goes dead or the owner locks it remotely and she’s left only with the few slim clues she gathered exploring the phone.

Mid-point Twist – It turns out that the enemy of the enemy was yet another enemy, so Janet balks at returning the phone after all.

Pinch 2 – The phone is stolen back by the original thief.

Lull – Janet serves detention for the first time in her life. She’s more dejected about getting punished for trying to do the right thing than she is ‘dooing the time’.

Plot Point 2 – Rival girl dupes the original owner into thinking Janet had stolen the phone from the beginning and that rival is in fact doing the right thing.

Conclusion – Janet (some how) convinces the owner of the truth.

Not as questy as I’d originally intended. Not convinced I’ve upped the stakes at each point. Not sure I’ve communicated what the stakes even are though I think they imply fairly well.

283 words on day 639

Time Bags II

Last night I thought I’d carry over the writing I began then to the writing I’d do today. I’ll spare you.

“Ah, shit, Martin. I just texted you,” Jesse said. He shook his head.

Martin stood up from a folding chair behind a glass display counter. The display edged the undecorated room in a horseshoe of paraphernalia: expensive cleaning kits near the register, Oklahoma’s biggest selection of rolling papers next, classic upright glassware—as they carefully described it—after that, then pipes, bowls, and finally hookahs back around to the right. Boxes of cheap lighters bridged each counter to counter seam every five feet. Jesse, the owner, joked that this frequency was in case a customer knew he needed a light but didn’t have the attention span to remember the fact all the way back to the register.

The only adornment hung to the right of the door where new patrons saw it for the first time as they left and regulars did too. Martin took the poster in trade for a simple upright his first week of work seven or so months ago. Six naked women facing away from the camera sitting poolside at a porn palace in the California hills. Pink Floyd album covers airbrushed on to their sinuous backs. Wish You Were Here with her red curls and hint of a chin was Martin’s favorite. Welcome to Time Bags II.

“What? Why?” Martin asked as he maneuvered his way around boxed stock on the floor behind the displays to his phone by the register. Martin unconsciously tightened the black watch cap on his skull. The navy blue jacket he wore like a coat rack lent him more substance than he truly possessed. Under that jacket a double layer of tee shirts kept him warm since Jesse wouldn’t let the heater go higher than 68 in the winter. Those worn shirts’ collars hung limply to reveal part of a message tattooed across Martin’s pale chest. Because the ink had faded and because the font had been Gothic everyone assumed it was a Bible verse. In fact, it read “Only the good die young,” and it was attributed to Shakespeare.

Martin flipped the phone open. “What the Hell, Jesse? I’m fired. What the fuck, man?”

383 words on day 628

Thinking About Running Back

An artist draws when she puts pen to paper. Any line—the first one, the next one, any one—becomes a part of the scene. That line may have begun as calestenics for the wrist and fingers or it may have been deliberate, but the artist incorporates it in the end. Even when they don’t include the first line, they sketch around it reducing it’s impact and rendering inconsequential. Each stroke and overstroke, each tick and bend, each smudge and erasure contributes.

A writer must edit their lines. They must excise false starts. They must hide away their practice. Even from themselves.

And then they must talk out of their asses.

Over the weekend I heard a bit of a pre-game radio show. The hosts interviewed a college football player who’d injured his ankle and stayed out of a couple of game. The young man attributed his return to hard work, prayer, and the influence of God on his doctors. He said that God spoke to the people involved in his recovery. God told them how best to care for him in order to get him back on the field. The player considered what a life without football might mean to him, but not seriously because he had faith God would restore his ankle. Today he would play!

I guess I’m cynical.

I think we’ve all heard this story in one form or another. This version avoided the he’ll-never-walk-again cliché, in fact, it’s brief freshness derived from it’s understatement, but I had no doubt of the outcome and not much real interest along the way.

I guess I’m cynical.

I’m glad his story is common enough that he’ll never recognize what I’ve made of it. Or, maybe I’m glad his story is common enough that the story I have made of it will resonate with many players and fans. (Please note, I’ve not made a story. I’ve only so far had an idea I’ve not fleshed out). I wrote the logline in the shower or the rest of the drive home.

A skilled and savvy Oklahoma football player pretends to be a Christian to garner favor with fans and friends until he meets a coach who sees right through him…and doesn’t care.

A nice challenge I’ve thrown myself here since I barely know anything about either. Or at least I know what anyone might know from being on the outside of both. I know plenty well what being Christian is, but I don’t have the appropriate appreciation for it I’d need to write this story well. I don’t know what it means to proselytize or to blame all my successes on God. I don’t see how this story could be good without a better understanding of football than I hold right now. For me football is still a little like playing the slots; hiking the ball is like jacking the lever.

I like the several juxtapositions. I think he’d have to know more about Christianity to fake it than he would to be it. He’d need a reason to fall out with religion which would look like the reason he fell in. He’d have to have a stage to play on but look humble going about it. He have to feel contempt for the marks (fans, friends, fellow—but not fake—Christians) yet come off as genuine. Then he’d need a compelling reason to turn it all around personally. The story fails if he doesn’t face his sham publicly. Get denounced and never regain his credibility. Or only regain it through hard fought battle.

599 words on day 577

The Sex is Always Just Fine

Initially I was going to skate by on some non-creative bullshit I wrote earlier today. Writing is writing after all. It is, but this shouldn’t have counted. Fortunately I’ve found time, so it won’t have to count.

(man, this new comma knowledge is empowering) I’ll have to learn about dashes next.

“Oh honey, the sex was just fine. The sex is always just fine–”

“Arched back? Gasping for–”

“What is it you’re reading? But really you’re on the right track here,” Connie centered her sweating Arnold Palmer on the cardboard coaster then dabbed her lips with a linen napkin. “He was funny.”

“Mmm. Doing it with a guy who makes you laugh is the best.” Lisa popped a cherry tomato leftover from her salad in her mouth and Grouch Marxed her eyebrows.

“Ew, no.” Lisa continued waggle her eyebrows. Connie grimaced, “Stop. Just stop. No, what meant was he was comical.”

“What? His thing did stand-u–”

“If you finish that sentence I’ll walk the check on you. No, he’d clearly seen too much porn.”

“The bush freak him out?”

“Jesus Lisa!” Connie sputtered. Their waiter topped off Connie’s glass with more tea, and the pair of women froze like nuns in a bathhouse.  The waiter left with a professionally blank face, but Connie would never eat there again.

“Don’t interrupt me. He was fascinated by the panty-lines on my hips. He kept tracing the indentions in my skin.”

“Cool.”

“Was that a question or a statement?”

“Whichever.”

“Cool. It was cool.”

251 words on day 542