Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Unearthing Conflict

On Mother’s Day weekend I got to take time off. Not jsut from work, but from the family as well. I took off all my hats, leaving only that of daughter and writer on, and whizzed away into the Poconos.

It was awesome.
Mountain Spreings Lake Resort, PA - cabin no. 24, already reserved for next year!
My mom and I stayed in a lovely Cabin, with a dock. Hiked about a forest on well maintained trails to view lots of waterfalls. Took a guided horseback ride on a wooded trail. And generally relaxed and bounced writing ideas off each other.

It’s funny how different we are. She’s writing children’s books, and collecting family stories. I’m working on a fantasy with elements of steam punk. Yet we helped each other out quite a bit. Like contemplating over what would happen if my crystal powered undead managed to infect a fish. The thought of flopping fish that desired human flesh and needed to get to the capitol city incited a plethora of giggles. On a more serious note, we discussed a way to tie in all her family stories, via one over arching thread, and just how that thread would lead to the breaking of the curse.

Importantly for me, I figured out just how I want Unearthing Magic to begin. Thanks to the cabin wall and sticky notes, I whittled down my opening scenes and played with character motivations and conflicts. 
Plotting on the Cabin Wall

Lori was my hardest character. She’s passive-aggressive and prefers to she avoids conflict.
Case in Point: After Ara died, Lori knew she ought to go home to her birth mother, but she doesn’t want to. So rather than asking her parents if she can stay, or asking Mart to do so for her, she just stays and says nothing.  – But then I realized, this is her conflict.  – Because she’s passive, if her birth parents call her to move back home, she’ll do so to try and avoid her mother’s volcanic temper, even though she wants to stay with Mart. And until Lori finds herself pulled into the troubles of the larger world, she’s always going to be fearful that she’ll be called back across the road to stay.

Goes to show that even passive people can have conflict, even when they’d rather avoid it – and the avoidance of conflict can also make that conflict bigger.

Final outline of Chapters 1-3
I’m quite happy with how this revision is turning out. So far I’ve got the first three Chapters plotted out, each with four viewpoints. as you can see in the diagram below. I didn’t want to wait too long introducing each character, but Travis and Angela got the whole first Chapter to themselves. After all the ball starts rolling downhill with Travis’s last assassination attempt, that leads to his kidnapping and it’s not until after that kidnapping that Herbert and Lori enter the picture.

Yes, I’m quite happy with where my first three chapters are going. And when I have them set, I’ll work on the next bunch – however many that may be.


Bushkill Falls - if your ever in PA near Wilks-Barre Scraton - check it out - a very well maintained private park with fourteen (yes 14) waterfalls, and a look out, we didn't make it too because we'd already walked around for thre hours. :}

:} Cathryn Leigh


  1. Aaaah,I cannot get over how awesome that retreat looks - and I may have to question you on how to get some conflict into a passive character for "IKARUS" revisions, too. Del doesn't want to play my game.

    Glad all your plotting's going well - Post-It Notes FTW!

    1. It is awesome, which is why we locked in our rates for next year. :}

      The interesting thing about passive people, is eventually they can no longer avoid the conflict. Eventually Lori has to face her mother's wrath and then watch Mart and her father arguing.

      I guess the trick it to make sure the conflict come to your character, if they don't want to face it head on. *smirk*

      And yes, all hail the post-it notes. :}

  2. ... I have a character called Lori. Now I know why the name seemed familiar. (But I've been thinking of renaming her so I might do that now so that we don't confuse ourselves.)

    1. Heh, you can do that if you like. Your Lori will probably be completely different than mine. But yes, not confusing ourselves is a good thing. :}