So…this is a writing post. Sort of. I spent the long weekend in Cincinnati with my parents. Anyone who knows my family would be thinking, “Oh, my. How’d THAT go?” Um, fine. They are getting older with every visit West (duh), and the bulk of the fetching falls to my older sister, who lives nearby. Occasionally, it is my pleasure to (wo)man up, drive down there and do stuff.
So I grocery shopped, pharmacied, cooked, cooked-ahead and froze, served and tried to rearrange the universe in a more orderly fashion for two people who insist on living in a raised ranch but are having trouble getting around. Which led me to my first realization:
1. I can only do so much. My parents are grown-ups, far more set in their capable ways than I am. Even though I think they should move to a place with a bathroom on the first floor, it’s not my call. And I am still their CHILD. I don’t get to rearrange things to my satisfaction. They get to lead their lives.
It was an eight-hour drive, one way, so I had lots of time to listen to Jennifer Crusie’s MAYBE THIS TIME. I’ve been her fan for at least twenty years now (cripes), and I realized a few things while listening:
2. I think a hero who is blocked at every turn but continues to act in the best interest of the heroine is HOT.
3. I also think a hero (okay, in this case a secondary character) who is the jester but can turn on a dime and become serious and formidable is also HOT.
4. It’s a neat trick to give the reader (in my case listener) insight into characters by desribing them in other characters POV. It does two things, characterizes the person DESCRIBED and characterizes the person DESCRIBING.
MAYBE THIS TIME is a ghost story, a mystery, and my brain doesn’t work like that. The pacing was skillful and I enjoyed trying to figure it out, but the plotting was equally skillful, so I didn’t. Or couldn’t because I really don’t roll the mystery way. I bet my Mom could have figured it out. Maybe. I’m sure there are bigger things I could have admired about the story, but it kept me going for 16 hours. I tend to fall asleep while driving long distances, so that is pretty darn amazing!
I did have one other thought, but it also ties in to EXCLUSIVELY YOURS by Shannon Stacey, which I read while I was down there.
5.Characters must change.
We know this. However, in both books the heroine changed in a gradual, well-motivated way. I went on their journeys with them and believed every moment. As a writer, I know how hard it is to do this when you are CREATING the story. Both Crusie and Stacey made me trust them. I knew I wouldn’t be rolling my eyes at the bottom of a plot hole. I could relax and enjoy the ride. Escape is good, especially in Cincinnati.
Both books also made me think about this:
6. There are two sides to every story – and both people can be right and wrong. It’s all in their perception of the situation.
This is complicated, and I know I will be grappling with it for a while. To explain how it applies to MAYBE THIS TIME and EXCLUSIVELY YOURS would spoil the story – I’m not into that. But wouldn’t it be fun to create a character who is both good and evil, truly? A man who truly did good in his life but has turned into a miscreant still did good in his life. He can’t be entirely condemned, can he? Something to ponder.
I know six is an odd number of epiphanies. I should keep thinking and do ten, but the last four might be lame. I won’t waste your time! I hope you all recover well from Thanksgiving, if you celebrate it, and shopping, if you do it. Have a great week! XOXO!