My present project, Norman in the Painting, needs a specific genre. I called it a suspense with paranormal elements but someone said that category didn’t fit. A suspense novel involves imminent danger, high stakes, and threats. Usually the readers and characters know the perpetrator, but the problem is to avoid the impending doom. Waves of frightening peril increase in intensity and lead to the crushing climax, and then at the end all is resolved.
Multiple threats and murders happen in Norman in the Painting, but the focus is not the arc described above.
Mystery seems like a generic description since mysterious elements are in many books in other genres as well. Specific mystery novels have a puzzle to solve, The protagonist has to find out whodunit in a crime that readers do not see happening. Clues are sprinkled throughout the story and the main character’s clever investigative skills unravel the complicated case.
Norman nor Jill have to track clues to know who did what. They have a problem surrounding their relationship that is not under their control. They have to figure out what to do about it.
A romance novel has a hero and heroine who meet, have conflict at first, develop into a romantic relationship, and then live happily every after. Norman in the Painting ends with a slim possibility of Jill and Norman being happy ever after because of the dangerous situation they agree to embrace. It’s less than a 50/50 chance they will be able to remain together. The required expectation that they will, eliminates my novel from the traditional romance genre.
After exploring all the possibilities, I’m back to my original category: a paranormal romance, which gives the novel a freer ending.
What genre is your novel?
Antanagoge is a rhetorical device that means: putting a positive point on something negative. (2) answering the charge of an adversary, by a counter charge.
Example: She always forgets my birthday, but she gives me gifts during the year.
He lost his job, but he’s looking forward to spending more time with his family.
I ordered this book, Meet Your Happy Chemicals by Loretta Graziano Breuning, PhD. The following is a summary of what the back book cover states about four brain chemicals. I thought learning about the chemicals would be useful in showing how our POV character or the antagonist could be deficient in
one or more of the chemicals, which could explain some of their behaviors.
Dopamine makes us jump for joy. Dopamine feels great so we try to get more. It rewarded our ancestors’ will to explore.
Endorphin helps us to mask pain. Our ancestors survived from predator attack because endorphin caused them to feel good. Exercise triggers endorphin so we can safely reach home. Laughing or crying triggers it too.
Serotonin is stimulated by the status aspect…the pride of associating with a person of a certain stature. It triggers our need for respect.
Oxytocin is stimulated by touch and by social trust. It flows when we stick with the herd and create social bonds. Herds protected our ancestors from harm.
In my WIP, Norman in the Painting, my protagonist, Jill, has a need for more dopamine and endorphin. Her inner fears cause her to love running. Her goal is to run three miles every day. The endorphin rush makes her feel safe. Her lack of dopamine causes her to have no desire to explore. She spent most of her years close to her hometown and has no interest in travel. I’ll make sure she will produce more dopamine that will help her grow in her character arc.
The antagonist has a severe deficiency in oxytocin and serotonin.
Does your character have a chemical deficiency?
John W. Gardner, October 8, 1912 to February 16, 2002, was an American statesman. He was a vigorous advocate for social action.
John C Gardner born July 21, 1933 in New York, died September 13, 1982 in a motorcycle accident. He was an American novelist, essayist, literary critic, and university professor. Gardner’s novels range from the award winning October Light in which a crochety New Englander takes a shotgun to his television, to Grendel, a retelling of the Beowulf story by the troubled monster himself: “I observe myself observing what I observe. It startles me…No thread, no frailest hair between myself and the universal clutter!”
Thanks to one of my first writing teachers, Jessica Barksdale, Grendel is one of my favorite books. Gardner created a murdering monster that the reader cares about, drawing tears from me several times.
In my search for John C. Gardner quotes, both Gardners were mixed together, many without the middle initial. So I’ll add a few here and you can decide who said what.
Some information and Photo credit of John C. Gardner: http://www.todayinliterature.com
William Faulkner’s Intruder in the Dust was the book chosen for our reading group’s February novel. We all agreed it was a difficult style to read. He used little punctuation. The pronoun ‘he’ in his long sentences could mean Chick or Lucas or his uncle or any male in the scene. Within the long, long paragraphs, we often couldn’t figure out which ‘he’ talked or took action.
However, we all liked the richness of the setting, and three out of five us appreciated the novel inspite of the writing style.
What Faulkner novels have you read? What do you think of his writing?
Jill, my protagonist in Norman in the Painting, has a fear of taking risks. She went to the university closest to her hometown although she was accepted in several that were in different states. She wasn’t afraid to leave her parents or to leave her few friends. The small town in the story is a character and that familiar setting is security for her. It’s thirty miles from San Francisco, but she’s never been across the bay. Her parents and sister, involved with the small town’s politics, told Jill the city was unsafe, and had no redeeming qualities so why bother to go there? Gullibility is another of Jill’s flaws. The one time Jill took a risk was in marrying a charming stranger who came to town and who, a year later, tried to kill her.
Part of her character arc is to overcome her fears. In Chapter 18 that I’m writing now, Jill comes to the realization that her fears have prevented her from moving forward in life. However, the risks she now takes will put her and everyone she knows in danger.
What are your character’s flaws and fears?
Victoria Zackheim & Contributors read from Zackheim’s anthology, Faith: Essays from Believers, Agnostics, and Atheists at Mrs. Dalloway’s Bookstore in Berkeley on February 25th. Zackheim is the author of the novel The Bone Weaver and the editor of five anthologies, the one before Faith was Exit Laughing. She writes documentary films and teaches creative nonfiction in the UCLA Extension Writer’s Program.
Among the readers at Mrs. Dalloway’s event were two writers I recognized from the San Francisco Writers Conference:Tamim Ansary and David Corbett. I remember hearing Ansary speak for the first time at the Pleasanton Library about five years ago when he promoted his book: West of Kabul, East of New York. At Dalloway’s, he read a short excerpt from his essay titled “A Secular Mystic”
David Corbet read from his “Love and Insomnia”. Corbet is a speaker at the SFWC and will speak at The California Writers Club, Tri-Valley Branch’s Conference in April, 2015.
At the reading, Zackheim described the surprises she experienced when the essays for Faith arrived. Each writer approached the question, “What do you believe?” in various ways. From Islamic roots that led to secular mysticism to another writer’s heated, anti-religious rant, a reader will find wit, humor, candid personal truths…something for everyone.
Faith is a book I recommend and perhaps it will be an inspiration to consider…what do you believe?
A Good Day’s Work — Grandma Moses
I look back on my life like a good day’s work, it was done and I feel satisfied with it. I was happy and contented, I knew nothing better and made the best out of what life offered. And life is what we make it, always has been, always will be.
Thanks to Ann Winfred for posting this quote on her blog: http://comingofagecroneicles.com/voices/
And for giving me permission to post it too.
Dwight D. Eisenhower said, “In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”
I know Eisenhower was referring to preparing for battle, but to me, it works for writing as well.
For plotters his quote could be interpreted as the plot that was planned might be useless, i.,e. doesn’t work, but the planning was important to know what will work and what won’t. Planning can be similar to a trial run that opens up new ideas leading to an outstanding piece of work.
For pantzers, we writers who don’t plot but sit down and write what comes to us, in other words, we write by the seat of our pants, I have found Eisenhower’s quote works for me as well. Writing out a plot is useless, discouraging, and leaves me with a feeling the story is already written so I give up and go on to some other story idea. However, in my recent WIP, Norman in the Painting, I sit down and write, but I’ve planned a brief idea of what the action will be in that chapter. No outline, no note cards, nothing in writing, just a brief sentence in mind such as Arctarius tells Jill how Norman travels from his world to hers. I had to research multidimensions, parallel universes, and other details in order to have the correct terminology for Arctarius but after that, the chapter was up to him. I maintained the ability for surprises to occur, and they did, he didn’t let me down.
What is your process?