Stuck on your next move?

Chess

We’ve all been there. Despite your meticulous outlining, you find yourself stuck in your story and have no idea what your protagonist does next. How do you advance your plot?

Fear not. This is something every writer has to wrestle with. Even the pros admit to hitting an occasional road block. So whether a best-selling author or lowly scribbler, you have to deal with the occasional plot snag somehow. So I’ll share what I do.

My approach is two-fold: First, go back to your protagonist’s basic motivation. What does he want? Then imagine the worst that could happen to prevent him from achieving his goal. Throw that at him, and watch what he does. If you understand the protagonist’s history and heartfelt desire, you should be able to visualize how he’ll respond.

Read the rest at Alice Osborn’s blog, where I’m guest blogging today.

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Contemporary Literary Art

Raven King

Annette Hassell “John Uskglass the Raven King”
click to enlarge

Today’s  Remodern Review blog features a post on an exhibit of the works of Phoenix-area Remodernist painters. The exhibit’s theme is “works inspired by favorite books.” These paintings revive the artist’s role as a visual storyteller. Unlike post-modern painters, Remodernists reject the nihilism that an inaccessible elite insists is the proper focus of the “true artist.” Instead, Remodernists seek to recapture art’s primary purpose of stirring the imagination of the general public and inspiring an appreciation of classic ideals of nobility, courage, and beauty.

Tolkien, Trees, and Tradition

TreeRoots

Joseph Pearce explores Tolkien’s reverence for language and heritage:

This deep understanding of language is analogous to an understanding of history. If we want to understand where we are now and where we are going, we have to understand where we have been. And what is true of history in the broader sense is equally true of the history of words. In order to really speak well, write well, or think clearly, we need to use words correctly. We need to know linguistic tradition. We need to be linguistic traditionalists. We have to be in touch with the language, its roots, and its heritage. We need to become linguistic tree-huggers! We do not necessarily have to speak very quickly; we have to speak well. We have to speak accurately, with a precision of meaning. Contrary to Peter Jackson’s tragically abusive presentation of the Ents in his film version of Tolkien’s epic, in which they appear to be dim-wits who are outwitted by the smartness of the hobbits, we know that when Tolkien’s Ents come to a decision it will be the right one, because they have been absolutely precise in the way they have used their words. They think and speak definitely, in accordance with precise definition. They define their terms and they know their meanings. They are the opposite of postmoderns and nihilists who see no meaningful roots to the cosmos because they see no meaningful roots to words.

Modernism, argues Pearce, is vandalism that fancies itself to be liberation from a constraining  past. Indeed, it celebrates the murder of authenticity, as it demands that all heritage chains down the individual. Of course, what actually happens is not a glorious jail-break from nature and history, but alienation from those things Charlene Spretnak has identified as the prime Modernist targets: “the knowing body, the creative cosmos, and the complex sense of place.” If we lose those things, then we are unshielded from today’s manipulators of language and value who profit by convincing us that our identity is discretionary, and can be as sleek and desirable as the Gap jeans and Zappo shoes they urge us to buy.

Best Fiction and Writing Blogs

Brundage1
The week’s best “how-to” articles compiled by margaret

Jacqueline Seewald: Setting the Scene
Holly Lisle: Freeing Up the Subconscious in Writing
Grady Brown: SUPERPOWER: ENERGY MANIPULATION (I could use that!)
A Vase of Wildflowers: Links for Readers and Writers
Cindy Knoke: It’s Home to The Holler We Go! (Nothing like dazzling pictures of exotic wildlife to inspire you)
Nicola Alter: Accepting the Existence of Magic (How to do magic right in your stories)

Science Fiction for the Fourth Generation

There will be no more Gettysburgs; there will be no more Stalingrads. Gettysburg, the biggest battle to take place in North America, pitted the largest army in the world at that time against the world’s second largest. A massive and prolonged artillery bombardment — what Robert E. Lee hoped would create a Napoleonic “feu d’enfer” or “Hell’s Fire”– combined with a direct charge at entrenched infantry (Pickett’s Charge), and a total lack of appreciation for the implications of the rifled Minie ball made horrendous casualties inevitable. 50,000 soldiers would be killed or wounded.

And despite all that, the rules of engagement limited civilian casualties to one. Yes, you read that right — only one civilian died at Gettysburg.

Nor will there be another Stalingrad. The era of industrialized armies trying to grind each other into submission, resulting in a clear winner and loser, is also a thing of the past. We are now in the age of Fourth-Generation Warfare (4GW), characterized by non-State combatants fighting as much for hearts and minds as for battlefields — and “battlefields” are no longer places where tanks can maneuver; instead, they are chosen more for their public relations significance than military expedience. There will be no innocent bystanders in a guerilla/public relations battle for hearts and minds. Understanding the new way of war will be essential for policy planners, military strategists, and, yes, for writers.

So Vox Day’s latest venture, Riding the Red Horse, guarantees to be fascination reading. It combines sci-fi tales of future warfare with non-fiction essays on emerging trends in warfare, including work by William Lind, a leading scholar on 4GW. This review in TakiMag provides a good introduction:

Riding the Red Horse, edited by fantasy star Vox Day and Army Ranger vet Tom Kratman for Castalia House, is a tailor-made compromise for those time-pressed souls who find the consumption of unalloyed fiction to be too useless a practice in which to indulge. It’s also a treat for sci-fi readers who retain an interest in the world around them—and the two groups’ overlap is large enough to make it a very good idea indeed.

If you want to write realistic future battle scenes, this volume will be essential. I know what I want for my birthday.

Quote of the day

“Art has been marginalized in our culture by the mismanagement practiced on it by elites. In doing so, they have blocked access to powerful resources – denying our society the inspiration to live up to ideals, the encouragement to think and feel deeply, the yearning to harmonize with truth and beauty. As a result the mass audience has turned away, instinctually rejecting the superficial and nihilistic aspects of contemporary art championed by an imperious would-be ruling class.” The Remodern Review

“Tuggle ably captures the spirit of Dan Brown novels and Indiana Jones–style adventure stories.” Kirkus Reviews

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