October 16, 2010


I've always enjoyed a good story.  There's a certain knack to telling stories that can hold people's attention. One must make the reader feel as if they are a part of the story.  As if the good folks are their dear friends and the villains their mortal enemies.  They must stake a claim in the outcome, emotionally invest in the characters, long to hear how the story ends.  There's nothing worse than becoming involved in a story only to find that the ending leaves you wondering what just happened.  By all means, throw a twist in the plot; bring in new characters who muddle the outcome; but a story that ends with disappointment is a waste of my time.  It's not entertaining, it's not something that makes me say, "My, wasn't that clever!"  If I've invested in the story only to have the rug pulled out from under me with the fate of the characters in unhappy circumstances, I'm not likely to read it again or recommend it to others.  And, trials must be a part of the tale but I don't think one tragedy after another paints a very realistic scene and even if, in some cases it does, I think a story about it only compounds the grief.

A biography is one thing and the story written for entertainment quite another.  There are times when real life is very disappointing and the outcome leaves me wondering, "Why?" but that's been discussed elsewhere.  Now don't get me wrong, there are lots of real life scenarios with unhappy endings but that's just the reason why stories should turn out better.  And I guess there are times when a tale takes a turn for the worst that makes me cry along with the characters but disappointed as I am, I don't feel cheated by the end.  When Robin Hood was dying, I shouted for Little John to do something!  And yet, I knew why he could not.

Like my girls, and probably part of the reason they feel they way they do, I really like the old classics, full of mystery and adventure.  As a girl, I could imagine myself sword fighting, rafting, sleuthing out clues or being a sharp shooting archer right along with the best of them. After all, Lady Marion could do it...but she had something that I lacked.  As well as being an adventuress and full of courage (things I thought I could muster quite well) she also knew how to be a charming lady of quality.  As a tom boy, whose parents didn't have any boys, I felt rather inadequate to fill that role.  Or as one of the ladies of Longbourn, who would never dream of soiling their gowns...except Elizabeth.  Well, maybe...

I'm glad to see that my girls have followed in my footsteps. It's not enough to dream of being the princess, high in her ivory tower, untouched by the perils of her people, living the life of luxury far from the regular folks who earn their living or even their survival, the best way they can and having the handsome prince swooning at your feet like a lovesick puppy.  Well... that may be worthy of a few fleeting moments of thought...but I wouldn't want to live there!  How dull!  A truly wonderful tale is one full of the heart, of noble people who are not afraid to work, or fight, along side those whose fortunes or circumstances in life are far beneath their own.  The reason is that in many cases, nobility comes from the heart.  Take Arthur for example, he didn't know who he was until he was thrust into the kingship after pulling the sword from the stone.  The most unlikely to fill the long vacant throne and yet the one who could do it the best.

All this to say that when I've read all the wonderful stories, I get the urge to write my own.  To create a world in which the hero or heroine emerges as likable and worthy of the regard of my readers.  Someone who inspires them and makes choices that are noble and virtuous in nature even in trying situations.  Doing what's right in times of happiness and plenty doesn't take much effort. Not to say that they never make mistakes or disappoint but all in all, they try to do what's right.  And they will probably live happily ever after because they deserve it. Like the underdog, or the girl with the courage to defend what's right when she stands to lose something important... and, of course, the man who loves her for it.

On a bit of a side note; a must for a good character is a little common sense.  It's tough to stand behind someone who continually makes decisions based on half truths or that don't make any sense to the reader as if they are based on something the author knows about the character that we'll never learn.   I despise coming away from a story with unanswered questions about what happened.  Even if I don't agree with the decisions the character makes, at least if I can understand why they did it that way, I can follow along with their reasoning.  Or more to the point, the lack of continuity in the characters personality that begs more information but it never comes leaves me thinking that they are not worthy of the investment.  I can't identify with someone unless I know where they are coming from.  The inability to understand why they do what they do doesn't draw me closer to them.  It only serves to do the opposite by causing me to disconnect with them and lose interest in the story, or at least their portion of it. 
I guess it's sort of wishful thinking...imagining myself in the role of someone who can persevere in the shadow of trials or who goes on to do what's right when it would be easier to quit.  Just a gal who lives a life that has meaning and inspiration to leave behind to those who follow.

After all, isn't that what we all try to do?  Through all the pain and trials that come our way and all the tough choices we have to make, we try to do what's right.  Not for what we can gain for ourselves but for those we care about.  Often that involves sacrifice and stepping back from the forefront to stand beside those we love.  But in the end, we're rewarded for it, either in this life or the eternity to come.  A legacy worthy of a princess...or even a pauper.

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