#NaNoWriMo Day 4: Antagonist’s Call to Adventure

Day 4
Word count: 6,350 words
Word count goal: 8,000 words
Mapping the Hero’s Journey: Call To Adventure
Save The Cat: Debate

I’m really enjoying meditating on the works of Akiya Kageichi for this project. Their so full of story inspiration. The second top image by Andrew Ferez made me think of the Chekov’s Gun exercise (like the Simple Task on day one) to make sure that objects described in a scene are important to the story. I love detailed journal image Fossil Boy by Chris Rush. When I saw it, I thought, which of my characters might keep a detailed journal? How could I incorporate this into the story?

Plotting with Tarot

Where do my antagonist’s motivations come from? What was his Call to Adventure?

Today’s scenes include three different antagonists, so I’ll be doing a few different readings. I’ll include all three pictures and you can see if any seem to apply to your antagonist (s).

Okay. Something very strange happened when I chose the first set of cards. The layout you see is exactly how I set them on the table. I turned on my DSLR camera and took the picture the same way I have each morning, but the camera took the picture upside-down. Without changing a single setting I did the next two readings and the camera took the pictures right-side-up.

The interesting thing about the camera deciding that my first reading should be upside-down is not only does that change the meaning of the cards, it also changes the position. Thus, an upside-down Queen of cups would be what my antagonist is up to when he gets the call to adventure and the upside-down High Priestess would be why he would consider it.

I have a lot to think about. Not only about the electronic interference of poltergeists and the unseen powers in the universe, but also whether there’s a hidden or unseen aspect to my character, a dark underbelly if you will.

Ask Your Character

Ask your antagonist –

  • Who has been the kindest to you in your life?
  • What are the most important lessons you’ve learned in life?
  • What is your earliest memory?

Word Of The Day

bellicose: adj. aggressive, hostile

8 Action Verbs:

achieved          budgeted          contacted          documented

governed          listened            processed          served

Poem prompt

Today’s poem has a form prompt. Write a rondelet about your antagonist’s motivations.

Motivation

I need to achieve
To finally get what I deserve
I need to achieve
Smiling faces blockades meant to deceive
But I’m quick to swerve
Because my needs I serve
I need to achieve

Awesome Sentence Challenge

A sentence can do one of four things:

  1. Make a statement:declarative sentences
  2. Ask a question: interrogative sentences
  3. Make a command:imperative sentences
  4. Make an exclamation exclamatory sentences!

Practice writing the four kinds of sentences. Then try the same sentence all four ways.

Today’s Simple Task

Show antagonist’s goals, needs and desires.

Warm-up Exercise

Set your timer to 20 minutes. Write a scene where your protagonist and antagonist share a meal. – from Anna C. (NaNoWriMo poster)

Recommended Word Crawl

Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along crawl. A great way to study bad guy motivations and I wanted an excuse to watch it again.

 

More Prompts From Twitter

Twitter is a treasure trove of writing prompts. #prompts is a good place to start.

It led me to @sempersum which led me to #NovemberFalls poetry challenge

NovemberFalls poetry challenge

There is also a take a prompt/ leave a prompt thread in the forums of the NaNoWriMo site.

Happy Reading and Writing!

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Strange Pleasures and Hedonic Motivation

My feet in my inflatable kayak and an interesting stump in the lake

Hedonic Motivation

Spring has sprung here in the great Northwest and my interests have turned to fun and joy. Last weekend was all about planting the garden and Monday I inflated my kayak and had the lake all to myself. The inflatable kayak, acquired two years ago, suddenly became a brilliant purchase as the lake (actually a humongous reservoir) is still well below recreational levels and to get on the water I had to carry my boat down a hill of rocks and unstable sand. Soon the stumps will be safely deep under water and motorboats will make it difficult and unsafe for rowers, so my adventure crossing the lake to explore the stumps was a unique pleasure.

Yesterday, I planned on continuing to talk about Writing Like The Masters with a discussion of Dostoevsky, but I noticed that I needed to return The Life & Times of Michael K by J. M. Coetzee to the library. I had already renewed it to the limit because I had trouble getting into the story, but I wanted to know why it was award winning (the Booker Prize), so I began to skim it before heading for the library. The immediacy of needing to return it must have finally drawn me in because I read the whole thing before one in the afternoon. I found interesting parallels to Notes from Underground by Dostoevsky. Coincidence? Maybe the timing was just right to see the Dostoevsky in Coetzee’s book and how they both focused on strange pleasures.

From Coetzee:

“There was pleasure in spending without earning: he took no heed of how fast the money went.”

“There was a pleasure in abandoning himself to sickness.”

From Dostoevsky:

“I was rude, and found pleasure in it.”

“–what can a decent man talk about with the greatest pleasure? Answer: about himself.”

“I would feel a certain hidden, morbid, nasty little pleasure in the acute awareness that I had once again committed something vile that day, that what had been done could no longer be undone; and I would gnaw and gnaw at myself in silence, tearing and nagging at myself until the bitterness would finally begin to turn into a kind of shameful, damnable sweetness and, in the end–into a definite, positive pleasure! Yes, a pleasure, a pleasure! I stand by that. The very reason why I brought it up is that I’ve always wanted to find out: do other people experience such pleasures?”

“This pleasure comes precisely from the sharpest awareness of your own degradation; from the knowledge that you have gone to the utmost limit; that it is despicable, yet cannot be otherwise; that you no longer have any way out, that you will never become a different man; that even if there were still time and faith enough to change yourself, you probably would not even wish to change; and if you wished, you would do nothing about it anyway, because, in fact, there is perhaps nothing to change to.”

Each of these statements made me pause. It seemed contradictory for the characters to find pleasure in things that are socially considered wrong or bad, which made me want to research pleasure as motivation.

This reminded me that while I was mowing recently, I enjoyed listening to the Dwight Swain Master Writing Teacher audio book. Mr. Swain mentioned character motivation as following the four wishes from the work of sociologist W. I. Thomas, so I started my research there.

According to W. I. Thomas, people’s desires fall into four categories:

1. The desire for new experience – adventure

2. The desire for security -physical needs, fear of death

3. The desire for response – love, appreciation

4. The desire for recognition – position, power, ambition, vanity

Each one of these categories could be pleasure or pain, but weren’t specifically pleasant or unpleasant, so I kept looking which led me to:

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is similar to Thomas’s desires, but puts them in an order:

human motivation pyramid based on needs

from Wikipedia

Again, each of these motivations could be pleasurable or painful which brought me to Hedonistic Motivation:

From the Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary:

hedonic – adj. 1. of, relating to, or characterized by pleasure

hedonism – noun 1. the doctrine that pleasure or happiness is the sole or chief goal in life.

I think hedonism has become confused with being selfish, otherwise how could it have a bad connotation? Isn’t the true goal in life to be happy? Of course, happiness cannot be defined by anyone but the self, so philosophically happiness is selfish. Ha Ha.

But, think about it, if everyone was happy, life on earth would be wonderful. It is the human instinct to not be happy with what we have that breeds discontent, not pleasure or happiness. It is the idea that the goal of happiness cannot be reached, or that the attainment of happiness is somehow a bad thing that has turned hedonism into a bad word. But isn’t happiness what everyone strives for; haven’t people worked themselves to death for a bit of happiness?

The Theory of Hedonic Motivation is the idea that people approach pleasure and avoid pain. A  basic idea when we speak of ourselves physically, but more complicated when we include emotions. The theory includes the idea that a person’s behaviors result from emotions such as: love, hate, fear and joy. Emotional experience is understood on a scale from bad to good and our primary motivation is to avoid bad and increase good.

So, here’s where we get to the strange pleasures; each person creates his or her own emotional scale of what feels bad and is to be avoided, and what feels good and is to be achieved, based on nature vs. nurture: perception, learning, environment, genetics, chemistry, biology, physics . . . who knows the combination? the eternal joyous question.

Now, to apply all of this to my writing life:

First, I did a cluster of the word pleasure. I put the word pleasure in a circle in the middle of a page and set my timer to three minutes. Then, I wrote all the words that came to mind about the word pleasure. The results: It looks like I associate pleasure with natural energies: wind, sun, touch; and activities (mostly outdoor): hiking, gardening, adventure, jumping, singing and dancing. When the lake comes up, I’m sure I would include swimming, floating, and rowing. I only mentioned a few physical sensations: warmth, giddy, and tingly.

Conclusion: In three minutes of clustering the word pleasure, I didn’t come up with anything very strange.

Second, I wrote down some of my strange pleasures: I like diving into freezing cold water; I pick at scabs and tear at my cuticles even when it hurts and bleeds (I know I’ll scar, but it feels good), I love finding ugly spandex fabric, I like improvising horribly discordant sounds on the piano (and guitar) even though I know how to read music, understand theory, play well and spent my entire youth in lessons; when I have a good day, I tend to stay up all night, even until dawn, because I don’t want it to end, but I get really sick to my stomach about three in the morning.

Strange pleasures may turn the mind to well known fetishes and kinks which can be interesting hedonic motivations (and, perhaps, the reason hedonism can be considered a bad word by some), but not what I’m exploring here . What I’m trying to find, as I turn this study toward the characters of my work in progress, are their contradictions, quirks, and foibles that make each character unique and interesting.

Application to my work in progress:

Anna is a hermit who finds pleasure in certain kinds of pain: pinpricks and tingles–the cold of the lake to the hot of the hot-tub. She finds her primordial scream in the night after playing discordant music on her almost tuned piano. She hates being told what to do and says she really hates humans, but likes to give away what she has and wants to make others happy.

Brittany finds pleasure in being bad; she’s experimenting with her power as a young, attractive woman whose sexuality has power over men. The death of her mother and complete absence of her father due to grief made her quit college to take care of her younger brother. She finds pleasure in being the provider and keeping her brother’s hopes of college alive, but she also finds pleasure in complete irresponsibility.

Rick finds pleasure in the absence of pain. After an injury, he became addicted to pharmaceuticals, though compulsive lying, and addictive behaviors were always part of his semi-adult life. He finds pleasure in manipulating people to do his will and to believe his lies which he believes makes his life easier.

Now that I have strange pleasures for each of my characters, I want to create a couple of concise sentences for each one and find the perfect places to put them. I’ll get into that and more in my next post: Strange Pleasures Part Two.

Revision: Some great tips on youtube

DSC05771

Finding a spark of motivation

Hi everyone. Last week, gnlong so kindly shared a link to a youtube video about revision, Novel Revision: Craft a Story Readers Can’t Put Down a presentation by James Scott Bell. It had a lot of good information and tips for revising a manuscript. Surprisingly, the tip I took away from the presentation was to create a cover for my novel, just for myself. To even create an imaginary blurb/ glowing review to get myself thinking of my manuscript as a finished novel. It’s time to get my mind set on the finished product, so I’ll push through to that end.

I then searched youtube for other videos on revision and found another one I liked Revising, Rewriting & Overcoming Obstacles:editing

Have any of you found youtube videos that you found helpful to your writing?

P.S. If anyone is looking for 2015 calendars, I’ve made a couple of my photography and have them available at redbubble.com

(P.P.S. I apologize for missing a couple days, I have a bad cold and today is the first day I can keep my eyes open long enough to write a coherent sentence.)