The View

Greetings and sorry for the lapse in blogging!  I’ve been traveling most of the summer.  But now I’m back, at least for now, and ready to share my adventures with you!

On our trip to the Southwest, my husband and I visited a place called Monument Valley situated on the border of Arizona and Utah where we stayed at a hotel with a view of some of the most spectacular naturally made monuments I’ve ever seen.

Though not ruins, the monuments feel like remnants of an ancient civilization, and in some ways they are.  Monument Valley is a Navajo Nation Tribal Park.  This location has also been used for a number of Western films.

Take a look at the four monuments I’ve posted below.  The first one is sometimes called a mitten, which reminded me of home–since the state of Michigan is shaped like a mitten.  Take a look at the others.  What do you notice about each of them?  Which is your favorite?  Scroll down to find out the one I like best.

Monument #1

Monument #2

Monument #3

Monument #4

So my favorite is definitely the mitten!  But now I must make a confession.  All four photographs are of the same monument.  They’re simply taken at different viewpoints while on a hike.  The first is of the front, then the right side, the back, and finally the left side.

This walk was probably one of my favorite hikes.  One of the things it reminded me is that any given thing can be viewed from multiple vantage points, none of which are necessarily superior to the other.  Each view offers a different interpretation of the subject.

As an illustrator, it’s important to find just the right perspective for each illustration in your story.  Will it be a close-up to create more emotional intensity?  Will it be a bird’s-eye or worm’s-eye view?  Will it be a sweeping panorama for depth?  Or angled in some way to add tension and drama?

As a writer, it’s important to figure out what point of view you will use to tell your story.  First person brings your reader closer to the story but limits the reader to only one character’s perspective.  Third creates distance but often stays close to one character in particular.  Omniscient allows for dipping into the thoughts of multiple characters but may make it harder for readers to connect to the story.

In life, it’s important to see situations from different perspectives.  This creates empathy and understanding.  If you’re feeling bored with your own life, trapped by the monotony of your daily routine, try stepping out of your comfort zone and view your life from a different angle.  You might discover new meaning and even excitement!  And maybe just maybe a new adventure could be waiting just around the corner.

 

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The Journey from the Outside In

For all of you writers out there,

Today I’m tackling part 3 of story structure.  Here’s part 1 and part 2.  Just to review.  You start with a complex character and you give them a goal.  The goal should drive the plot.

But don’t confuse the inner journey with the outer journey.  You need both, but the inner journey should be more subtle.  Nobody likes an “issue story,” but you do want to see your character change in some profound way at the end as well as get (or not get) what they originally wanted.  In fact, you might try giving them something else that they never knew they needed.  The happy surprise, just like in real life 🙂

For example: Character X can have a stuttering problem, but the goal should not simply be to overcome that problem.  There should be an external goal, (i.e. the character wants to be class president) which forces the character to face that issue.  As Character X battles his opponent, he must also tackle the childhood wound that caused the stuttering to take place.  The character not only stops stuttering and wins the election, but also comes out with greater self-esteem which is the real prize.

Bottom line:  Your job as a writer might be to show character growth, but  readers are here for story.  If you can deliver that first, they won’t mind the lesson they learned along the way.  In fact, they just might be grateful for it 😉

 

Small Miracles

Howdy Partner!

Greetings all 🙂  I’m back from a recent trip to the Southwest.  And boy was it action packed!  Look for upcoming posts on just how much fun I had out there.  But for now, I want to focus on something small.

Small miracles.  What are they and why do they exist?  I don’t have any scientific explanation, but I do believe that small miracles happen on the daily.  They seem to occur while we’re waiting for the big miracles–the answers to our prayers, the dreams we hope to achieve, the success we want to have.

Big miracles are fine.  You can build a life around them.  But I believe it’s the small miracles that get us through the day, lift us up when we are down, and spark something inside us that is truly divine.

I experienced a number of small miracles on my trip.  Here are just a few that I’d like to share.

  • We received an upgrade on our flight and were able to watch movies and enjoy extra snacks on the way out west.  I sometimes get nervous on flights, so this was a great bonus!
  • In Scottsdale, my husband and I visited the shop of a local artist.  We connected with the owners, exchanged business cards, and I even received a free calendar of artwork because they found out it was almost my birthday 🙂
  • While looking for non-dairy ice cream, I found a shop serving my other favorite cold dessert–bubble tea smoothies!
  • When walking with a friend, a guy in a cowboy hat saw us posing for a photo and said– “You all need this for your picture!”  Then he placed his cowboy hat on my head.  That was great for a laugh and such a random feel-good moment 🙂  It can be fun to interact with strangers on a trip.  See the photo above.
  • Hiking in the Rockies, we met someone from my hometown–Toledo, OH.  We also met a father-daughter duo at our final destination who took our only great photo of the two of us at this spot.  They even told us about a unique local place to hang out and get a drink in Boulder.
  • We were unable to make our final dinner reservation, but the next day we ended up there for lunch.  No brunch, but they just happened to have a soft-shell crab sandwich–my favorite!  Thank goodness for small miracles 🙂

While you’re waiting for big miracles, what are the small miracles that make your day special?  Please share!