Sunday, May 22, 2011

Memorial Day

Memorial day is coming up. It's a day set aside to remember those who lost their lives defending ours. I wrote this in honor of the men and women who did not return, knowing that I, too, was once a soldier.

Memorial Day

Please think of me when autumn frost,
Turns leaf to russet gold.
When sheep file down from pasture high,
To keep in winter fold.

When bugles blew and drums of war,
In rhythm deep and slow,
Sent forth their call across the land,
To soldiering I did go.

Remember me when pale moon lights
Our valley cloaked in snow.
When nestled snug in woolen shawl,
Near firelight’s ruddy glow.

The poppies red of Flander’s field,
Bloom high in Afghan dale.
With silent tears they bow their heads,
And weep in hidden vale.

Forget me not when spring winds blow,
Place flowers near my name.
Please keep me locked inside your heart,
And love me all the same.

The guns report their deep respect,
The bugles solemn blow,
In grieving for the fallen ones,
Who did to soldiering go.

Please think of me when summer sun
Lies gentle on your shoulder.
Forgive me for the love unmade,
God rest the fallen soldier.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Inciting Incident

An earlier post discussed "Where does your book begin?" Not your story, your book. This post will delve a little deeper into the topic.

The question has been asked in several different ways, like "Where does the story engine kick in?" Or, "What makes the main character get up off his ass and do something?"

The Inciting Incident. The turning of the key that starts the story engine running.

What is it, and where does it occur?

Roughly put, the Inciting Incident is the singular event that defines the problem facing your Main Character. It should happen pretty early in the story, or the reader will get bored and go on to the next book on the shelf.

In DOG ISLAND, the downhearted MC is sitting on the beach in front of his house moping. The why of this isn't clear, and who he is isn't clear either. But he sits there, alone, depressed and moping until a boat, driven by a dead man, lands ashore at his feet.

That defines the problem. The boat landing is exciting in itself, and becomes the catalyst for all subsequent action. Up to that point, everything is backstory. Everything that happens afterward is DOG ISLAND, which is a great place to get away from it all until it all comes after you.

In Tim Hallinen's A NAIL THROUGH THE HEART, a man is digging in the mud and finds a safe. He is digging on behalf of another man, who watches from a distance. The digger is told not to look in the safe, but he does. That decision is the Inciting Incident, and sets the action in motion.

Tell me, what is your favorite Inciting Incident? It could be from a book, a movie, or a play. Would love to hear from you.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

A Dog's Life - Part 2

I must say that truly the only way to experience Beverly Hills is with a dog like Rocket! He was the magic key to the city. Last time we experienced the smell of street urine and the sound of grocery carts scooting along the asphalt in the heart of downtown. For contrast, on this trip we would smell the over-perfumed, plastic girls and hear the sound of diamonds clinking in Beverly Hills.

Here he is in front of this modern art piece.

Looking for a Pretty Woman, he strolled along Rodeo Drive

He took BH by storm. People in tour buses waved as they passed by. Paparazzi with clicking cameras followed his every move. Don't be too surprised if you see his picture featured in every supermarket tabloid.

Seriously, as we passed by all the people on the street we could hear them talk about Rocket in various languages. "Regardez, le chien," or "Mida! El perro!". Several children stopped to pet him. All the Beverly Hills women with little puffball dogs opened their arms to Rocket and me for conversation. "Oh how much does your Bichon weigh?", "Oh, what a cute dog!", and "Please do join Muffie and me on the verandah for some cucumber sandwiches!" (Um, okay, perhaps that last one was a slight exaggeration.)

Rocket went to Beverly Hills
at Jack & Jill's
to fetch a drink of water.

He sat down
and lost his frown
as the water came soon after.

Rocket had to join in the performance art scene on Canon Drive. Afterwards we headed back through the residential streets and he sniffed every tree and stone that had a story to tell.

Back at his hotel, the front desk girls all greeted Rocket by name. He went up on two paws and did his Snoopy dance. The front desk girls squealed with delight. He sure knows how to work a room! Now he is passed out under the table and dreaming about his next luxury destination.