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The mission of Pens & Pages Writers Guild is to facilitate and encourage writers of all genres, to share resources and tips about the writing process and, most of all, to provide a positive and productive forum that will encourage and support each writer in his or her creative endeavors.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Some Thoughts on the Skeleton

So, at the meeting where I presented Angela Hunt's skeleton diagram for outlining a story, I said I wasn't sure that the part about the character reaching a point of despair and receiving outside help held true for all stories. I'm still not sure it does, but from watching movies, I've decided that part of the problem for me is that it may be presented much more subtly than Glenda's help to Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz.

For example: in the movie Hidalgo, the main character (an ex-cavalry soldier from the American West, whose name escapes me) is involved in an endurance race on a mustang named Hidalgo in the deserts of the Middle East, against all-purebred Arabian horses and Bedouin riders. Near the end, he reaches a moment of despair, and is about to shoot his horse, who has succumbed to the heat, lack of water, and injuries, and seems unable to go on. He is deeply attached to the horse, and can't, when the moment comes, bring himself to do it. At that time, the heat also begins affecting him, and he sees a mirage/vision of Sioux ghost dancers, his ancestors, one of whom may or may not have been the his mother. Seeing them allows him to embrace the Sioux half of his ancestry, which is his Hidden Need, and that decision, coupled with Hidalgo's near-miraculous recovery, allows him to finish the race bareback and win.

When I was thinking of "help", I was not thinking of heat-induced hallucinations that gave no explicit advice. I've noticed in other movies that both the moment of despair and the "help" are even more subtle and hard to spot. However, this makes it easier for me in working on my current novel, where the outside help is similarly difficult to spot. At least, it makes me feel better.

On an unrelated note: there is a great article by Holly Lisle here about creating conflict.

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