Corn for Tallness

Prompt: Express yourself


My dear Wednesday,

I (and you, and anyone) have the opportunity to express myself (yourselves) for thirty days this November, which is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, or Nano. The idea is to sit down with a fresh sheet of real or virtual blank paper and start writing— about 1600 words per day for a total of 50,000 words (about the length of Catcher in the Rye) by the end of the month. A first draft of a book. A novel. Written by me/ you.

I’ve met the challenge every five or six times I’ve “competed”— it is an honour system tally. You post your word count to the NaNoWriMo website and your finished manuscript, which they mechanically verify and then declare you a Winner. You get to print out a full colour certificate, frame it, and hang it on the wall of your office or dining room or nail it to the fence.

I am generally a “pantser” which means I start writing without the benefit of detailed outline, as opposed to a “plotter” who organizes most the structure, theme, plot, and characters ahead of time.

This year I am trying the Save the Cat formula, which divides the story into three acts with specific pivotal plot points (called Beats) in each. So I actually have a story outline, but as yet no defined hero character at all.

I realize plot and character are interactive; each forms part of the other. As the plot affects the character, so does the character affect the plot.

…So what makes a compelling character?

I await your answer.

Seriously.

Meanwhile, may I present a few of my favourite cartoons, only the first of which is even tangentially related to today’s casual prompt, “express yourself”?

cartoon decorator-farming-new-yorker-cartoon_a-G-9180543-8419447

cartoon freshly-ground-pepper-new-yorker-cartoon_a-l-9476900-8419449

cartoon man-on-deserted-island-writes-tuesday-nov-27-dear-diary-still-no-si-new-yorker-cartoon_a-l-9168868-8419449


Peace, love, and lots of writing,

~~FP

Advertisements

Thank you, Miss Campbell

Prompt: Reach

Reaching hand

A man’s reach should exceed his grasp, Or what’s a heaven for?
–Robert Browning

Yes, thank you Miss Campbell, for teaching us these immortal words, even if teaching  was a terrible chore for you, so you fell back on conducting each of our high school English Lit classes exactly as you had done for far too many years, instead of retiring and reading Paradise Lost over and over. Maybe at first you had passion and interest and a love of teaching. But your droning, distracted voice, reading from a script while we dutifully made just the right amount of notes to ensure we passed this ordeal of a a course, expressed disdain for your vocation and for your students.

I have a high regard for teachers, because they can change lives in dramatically positive ways. They can also stifle and suppress, and turn children away from knowledge and a healthy curiosity about life and literature and science.

I hope Miss Campbell was taken aback when (or if) she read the quote I carefully included in my profile in our high school yearbook, the year we graduated:

A man’s grip should exceed his grasp, or what’s the use of heaven?

Thanks, Miss Campbell, for making English Literature a joke.

Thanks, Mr Cummings, Ms Ferguson, Ms MacGillvary, Ms Farber, Mr Fraser, and so many others for making my school years memorable and stimulating.