Sunday, November 17, 2013

In vs Out

Remember that old saying, "Opposites Attract?" My husband and I are a pretty good example of that being true; I am an 'In', and he is an 'Out'. By 'In', I mean Introvert, which leaves 'Out' to mean Extrovert. People use those words all the time, but I'm not sure they truly understand the meanings of both. In particular, the members of one group do not understand the needs of the other group, and vice versa.
Hubby is an extrovert. He loves to be around other people (with very few exceptions), and the more the merrier. If they have something in common (and that can be as small as they are both wearing black t-shirts that day), he is happy to explore their individual universes via conversation for hours! He is the type of person who, even after he acknowledges that it's time to leave, will continue to converse for another hour... or three. He leaves these convers-athons full of energy, with new tidbits of information to sort through and cubby-hole away, until he can find another conversation where he can pull them out and add to the mix.
I, on the other hand, am an introvert. Yes, I guess I'm shy, but introvert is more than that. Yes, I often am a wallflower, but does that really tell you anything about me? No, I am not anti-social; I like people just fine, in small doses, meaning one (okay, maybe two) at a time. Put me in a crowd - like a large convention - and I am overwhelmed. I pull inside myself and probably put barriers up that tell others, "Don't bother me." I might work on my laptop or pull out something to read.
When we go to big conventions, like Megacon or a Star Wars Celebrations, Hubby gets frustrated because I don't want to go to the dealer's room. Actually, I'd love to go see all the merchandise, a lot of which I don't see at smaller conventions, but a football field-sized room packed so tightly with people you frequently can't move more than a step, with a sound level that keeps you from thinking, with colorful displays that surround and tower over the crowd - that's not my idea of fun. It is my idea of confusion, and borders on panic. It's a situation where I have no control, and coping with it saps all my energy.

In short, extroverts find it energizing to be with other people, and are probably bored when they are alone. Introverts find their energy when they are alone, and are drained when they must deal with crowds. So if you have an introvert friend, don't think you are doing them a favor by dragging them out to a club. They will probably appreciate a movie a lot more.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Real Life

So much for getting myself organized. After recovering from my drive home from Florida, today I heard that my one remaining sister is in the hospital, having suffered a stroke. I haven't been able to complete a blog to post today, so this is a rerun from March 2010.

I keep coming up with ways ‘real life’ can be analogous to writing.  Well, give me a break; real life has conspired to give me a head cold for the trip home, and all my thoughts are sticky with ‘head cold goo’ and won’t move around well.

So, I started out in Florida, where nobody paid attention to the posted speed limit of 70.  The far left lane (of 3) was for those driving at 80+.  Then I got to Georgia, where the Florida Speedway quickly became the Georgia Parking Lot – miles of stop / creep / stop / creep.  I forget how many times it happened, pretty much the entire length of I75 through Georgia, except going through Atlanta.  And seldom, when you finally got to the point where you could speed up, was there any clue for the jam.

Did you know that if you enter Nashville on I24, and want to leave Nashville on I24, there is no lane you can get in and stay in and stay on I24?  I felt like I was playing hop scotch; skip left two lanes for a left exit, skip right one lane for a right exit, skip right another lane for another right exit, then skip left two lanes for a left exit!

Stories are kind of like that, don’t you think?  If there’s nothing getting in the protagonist’s way as you tell the story, the story zips along at 80+ mph and gets done quickly, leaving the reader to wonder what all the fuss was about.  If something does get in the way – whether you call them bumps, problems, challenges, or stalled trucks – the speed of the story will be inconsistent, and the tension will build.  Likewise, if your story line jogs here and there, as your protagonist tries this angle, and then that path, it will help to keep your reader on their toes, wondering which way the story will go next, and will the protagonist actually get where he wants to go?

So, ‘map’ out your story line, and don’t forget to add some difficulties.  Road trips never seem to go as smoothly as we expect they will, do they?  A story that travels a straight line to its obvious conclusion isn’t much of a story.