Saturday, March 3, 2018

The Big Brawl

The following post contains strong language and spoilers to a motion picture.

Conflict-(noun) a serious disagreement or arguement, typically a protracted one. (Verb) Be incompatible or at variance; clash.

Batman vs Predator by Andy Kubert
Conflict can come in many different forms. From Michael Keaton battling his substance abuse in Clean and Sober to the battle between the Caped Crusader and the Ultimate Hunter in the DC Comics/Dark Horse Comics crossover Batman vs Predator. Whichever way you put it all drama is conflict, it stands in the way of the protagonist accomplishing his goal. But it doesn't have to be limited to a single conflict: it comes from within and without. The protagonist might have to face obstacles that are arranged for him by his opponent and from within himself.

Conflict is boiled down to these three variations:

  • Man vs Himself
  • Man vs Man
  • Man vs Nature

  • Parental Conflict- *Comics' writer Peter David states that a staggering amount of literature focuses on the themes-and conflicts-stemming from father/son or mother/daugther relationships. That, or a substitute dynamic like teacher/pupil or master/apprentice. The Star Wars franchise focuses on such relationships: Obi-wan/Anakin, Luke/Obi-wan, Luke/Yoda, Luke/Anakin (Darth Vader), Luke/Rey, and finally Luke/Ben (Kylo Ren).
When dabbling in parental conflict one has to think that parent/child relationships are the most important aspect of our lives, be it ourselves to our parents or parents to their own children. We writers find new ways to tap into this emotional vein, and connect with readers on some levels.

*On the matter of conflict, it helps to clue the reader early on what the main character is dealing with. Wait halfway through your story to give readers at least a sense what challenges await the hero and they're going to get impatient.

*Another thing to keep in mind is to keep the conflicts small. Anyone who's read team books like Thunderbolts and Young Justice can tell you about how the writers kept the conflicts as small as possible. Mr. David points out that small equals real because the conflicts most people have to face on a daily basis involve family, friends and the like. These are the conflicts that have meaning to readers. The closer to home you can make your conflict, the more resonance it's going to have.

Now... for the Three Basic Conflicts!

Man vs Man- Ain't nothing like a good ol' fashion one-on-one between two individuals in the squared circle. In the words of Optimus Prime: "One shall stand, one shall fall." Two men in opposition to the other for the same goal, but only one can get it. So they duke it out! This can be told in a lot of ways.

Highlander starring Christopher Lambert and Clancey Brown is a prime example of Man vs Man. They've fought and struggled throughout history to reach the time of the Gathering, where the few who are left will fight to be the last. Now Connor Macleod and The Kurgan face off in a battle in which there can be only one! Y'know, because there can be only one?

Man vs Himself- In some stories, a hero's greatest opponent can often be himself. Overcoming a weakness, an addiction, or a traumatic experience. In order to fulfill his/her destiny, the main character must battle internal forces that plague them in their quest. What's tricky about internal conflict is that it has to be handled carefully when showing the hero's weakness so the reader doesn't get the impression that he or she is a total whiner.

Recalling the novel Pandemic by Yvonne Ventresca, it addressed the main character's sexual assault that was the catalyst for her internal conflict. As she and other survivors ward off a viral epidemic, she must deal with the emotional scars left from the assault.

Man vs Nature- Humans have always been at odds with the great forces of nature. Like say, a volcano, a tornado, tidal wave, you name it, we would come face-to-face with nature and lose. And all we can do is stay the hell out the way or survive. Herman Melville's Moby Dick is an illustration of it.

The Shallows starring Blake Lively is another fine example of man vs nature. The protagonist (Lively) is out enjoying a peaceful time at a private beach in Latin America. It's all sun and surf until she gets bitten by a great white shark. Stranded only 200 yards away from shore, her survival depends on her resourcefulness, ingenuity, and fortitude. After swimming to a buoy and getting stung by a jellyfish, it comes down to the final showdown between the main character and the shark.

With all the basic conflicts addressed, let's move on to conflict in teams.

What spawns this kinda conflict are mutual frustrations, arguments, and friction. *Mr. David points out that the essence of drama is conflict which is essential to story telling. Looking at the original Thunderbolts, let's consider that the entire group is made up of opposites. Each person has someone who's a polar opposite. Citizen V (Baron Zemo) who's the leader of the group and strategist vs Meteorite (Moonstone) the second-in-command who's psychology expertise allows her to keep the team down on an emotional/psychological scale, although she has betrayed him a time or two. M.A.C.H. 1 (Beetle) whose confidence is an opposite of Songbird's (Screaming Mimi) timid approach and trust issues. Atlas (Goliath) who can grow to a colossal size in action as Techno (The Fixer) battles with his tech-pack. There's also the "Outsider" of the team. The youngest member Jolt who doesn't have a criminal past but she's been the "heart" of the 'Bolts.

There are two things to keep in mind about creating conflict in teams. One is to look for real differences and the other is to keep it simple. The Fantastic Four are an example of differences. Mr. Fantastic uses his intellect to solve problems vs. Thing's solving them with his fists. Invisible Woman is the nurturing mother type of the group as her brother Human Torch is fiery and takes point in every dangerous situation.

Also when creating conflict in teams, start small and keep it simple with whoever you write into your team. Have their personal traits, tics, way of thinking be a polar opposite to the other person. Tea drinker vs Coffee drinker. Patient vs impatient. Rich vocabulary vs slang.

Happy Creations!

*Writing for Comics & Graphic Novels with Peter David pg. 62-82. 

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Book Thoughts: Pandemic by Yvonne Ventresca

Last year I set a goal to read comics & graphic novels and YA fiction and I have to say there were some very fine reads. The one book that was entertaining was Pandemic by my Writing Challenge companion Yvonne Ventresca.

Recalling how Kristy Acevedo's the Holo series opened me up to young adult stories I took the challenge to read Ventresca's debut and I will say it really blew me away. The story touched on the human conditions of the protagonist dealing with a viral epidemic in her community and her own demons.

Like Acevedo, Ventresca touched on the humanity of the characters and their struggles of facing a natural disaster but she's touched another matter affecting people: Sexual assault.

Therein lies the true conflict, friends. The character of the story is dealing with a traumatic experience of the assault which left her emotionally weary of the outcome of everything and everyone around her. It also has a negative affect on her loved ones.

To me as a reader, it's rich in all its honesty because it had the same affect on me and that made me think about how issues such as what the main character went though can happen to anyone, and how damaging it can be to others as to the survivor, even as to blaming the victim.

    Another aspect to address is how a group of teenagers had come together in a time of crisis and helped others overcome which carried the story.

I highly recommend anyone looking for a new read for grades 8-12.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Back for the First Time!

Hey! How's it going everyone?

Wow! Is it really 2018? Wait, where did the time go?

So what's everyone doing for this year? What are your goals/resolutions? I'll tell you what I'm doing this year.

Learn sign language. I'm thinking about adding something else to my forte as the year was coming up so I thought to learn a new language. You ask me, it's good way to expand oneself. 

Publish poetry. Believe it or not. I have one piece of poetry published in a lit magazine two years ago. Now I'm going to take another shot at publishing more of my poetry in a book or another lit mag.

Publish comic book series. This is something I hope to accomplish. After all the researching and contacting an artist, I haven't hit gold in finding a home for a comic book project I planned on pitching. Good vibes here, people.

Write to ten people. In the age of social media, one can only wonder: Who sends letters and postcards? To me it's something that's lost in this digital fishbowl. A handwritten correspondence is a simple way to communicate with people without logging online to say "Hello" to somebody on social media platforms and it's much better to say something in a letter than on the internet.

Sorry, internet.

Read the books on my bookshelf. I might as well say it, I'm a book hoarder. Being a big reader I buy books a lot more than I read the ones on my shelf. Admitting this to myself, I donated some books to a local library so they'd serve the community.

And that's all for you on the ninth day of 2k18, cats! Happy Resolutions!

Friday, June 23, 2017

Twitter Monthly Challenge: Three Years Later!

June 23, 2014 was the beginning of a brand new trend for Twitter users who write.

High school English teacher and YA writer Kristy Acevedo made out this tweet that would be called the Twitter Monthly Challenge with the hashtag #JuneWritingChallenge.

Everyone had followed suit with the word count of 500 or more in a few days. Writers had begun sharing advice, motivation, musing about their favorite genres, and research complexities. The action would continue with #JulyWritingChallenge that would bring together all writers on Twitter.

Three years later, more challengers have come.

The task of being a Writing Challenge hashtag leader requires a daily commitment, as well as organization to keep track of progress from other challengers.

The rules are to write at least 500 words per day and post your results each day using the current hashtag.

As a participant, I will say joining the challenge has given me the motivation to start writing after a while and connecting with published or soon-to-be published authors. But I'm not the only one having fun with it. Here are testimonials from my compatriots:

I remember being one of the first who signed up. It's been helpful and rewarding.
-Nina Lake

Monthly writing challenge keeps me on track. It's so refreshing!
-Wendy Turner

I'm so grateful I found this writing group. Great people. Finished my book & the rewrite because of the Writing Challenge! Happy I found it.
-Christina Quesada

The Writing Challenge gives me an achievable goal, despite the challenges of writing, kids, and a full-time job.
-Brie Paddock

I've written 500 words every day so far this year. Never in my life have I been so motivated to to dedicate time to my writing.
-E.K. Moore

There you have it! The amazing results from our Monthly Writing Challenge. Are you a writer looking to get pages written? Come answer the challenge at our website!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

#FolkloreThursday: Kitsune

Here we are friends with the final installment of my #folklorethursday blogs. Today's folklore name is the Japanese fox, the Kitsune.

Prince Hanzoku terrorized by a nine-tailed fox. Print by Utagawa Kuniyoshi, 19th century.
*The term "kitsune" is Japanese for "fox". In Japanese folklore, foxes are a common subject. Legend has it they are intelligent beings, possessing magical abilities that increase their age and wisdom. In Yokai folklore all foxes have the ability to shape in human form.

The legends of the kitsune began in ancient Japan; foxes and humans lived closely together during the period. It has become closely associated with Inari, Shinto kami or spirit, and serves as its messengers.

Other stories of the kitsune depict them as tricksters, faithful guardians, friends, lovers, and wives. The one notable aspect of them are the number of tails they have. More tails a kitsune has (many as nine), the older, wiser, and more powerful it is.

That's all for the #FolkloreThursday blog series, folks! It's been a pleasure to explore these myths and legends with you!


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

#FolkloreThursday: Redcap

Welcome back to this week's edition of my #folklorethursday.

Here I present to you the Redcap or Red Cap.

These are murderous, malevolent, dwarfs, goblins, elves or fairies found in Border Folklore. Legend has it that they inhabit ruined castles found along the border of England and Scotland. The Redcap was first mentioned in the 14th century by William II de Soules.

*Recaps are known to to murder travelers who stray into their homes and dye their hats with their victims' blood, they must kill regularly, for if the blood staining their hats dries out and they die.

They are very fast in spite of their heavy iron spikes and iron-shod boots they wear. Redcaps are depicted as sturdy old men with red eyes, taloned hands and large teeth, wearing a redcap and bearing pikestaff.

Another legend says the recap familiar of Lord William de Soules, called "Robin Redcap" , is said to have wrought much harm and ruin in the lands of his master's dwelling, Hermitage Castle. In one legend William was taken to the Ninestane Castle, a circle of stones by the castle, then wrapped in lead and boiled to death. In reality, William de Sous was imprisoned in Dumbarton Castle and died there, following his confessed complicity in the conspiracy against Robert the Bruce in 1320.

Tune in for next week as I explore more myths and legends scary for all ages.


Thursday, May 11, 2017

#FolkloreThursday: Bastet

Welcome back to another edition of Folklore Thursday on my blog site. This week it's the Egyptian goddess Bastet.

 In Egyptian mythology Bastet was a cat-headed goddess and a solar deity until Greek influence on Egyptian society, she became a lunar goddess associated with the Greek goddess Artemis. *During the  2nd Dynasty (2890-2686), Bastet was either a wild desert cat or lioness, and only became associated with the domesticated cat around 1,000 BCE. She was commonly depicted as a woman with a head of a wildcat, lioness. or a domesticated cat.

Bastet was commonly paired with Sekhmet, the lion-headed goddess of Memphis, Wadjet, and Hathor. Her title was "avenger" god sent to lay waste to Egypt's enemies as one of the "Eyes of Ra." In according to legends, Bastet was called the "Daughter of Ra", a designation that placed her in the same ranks as Maat and Tefnut.

The cult of Bastet was centered in Bubastis from the 4th Dynasty. Bubastis was the capital of Egypt for a dynasty during the Late Period, where a few kings took her name into their royal titles.

They were made famous by the traveler Herodotus in the 4th century BCE, when he described his annals one of the festivals that takes place in honor Bastet.

And that's that for this week! Be there as I explore more folklore and legends this month.

*Encyclopedia Mythica