Life

how to have adventures

I am an adamant supporter of the having of adventures. They are crucial to life. Cr-u-cial. Just because there is a dearth of dragons, quests, and hobbits doesn’t mean it’s impossible to go on one. Let me expound …

BE PROACTIVE SEIZE THE DAY. OR HOUR. OR MINUTE

Adventures don’t always hand themselves to you on a platter. You have to snatch at them as they whiz by, or spin them out of thin air. It’s all down to you. Do you have an afternoon free? Plan an outting. It doesn’t have to be expensive: buy some snacks, grab a book or a friend (with their permission. Of course) and go.

An hour? Go for a walk. Explore your neighbourhood. Travelling home from an appointment/work/saving the world from killer penguins? Choose a different way home. Branch out into a different genre of book. Go to the cinema and watch a film you wouldn’t normally watch.

BE READY TRY TO BE SLIGHTLY ORGANISED

I know – a little ironic, huh? Adventures are often spontaneous things … only. If you have an organised life, a marginally organised life, it means your brain is free from distractions. You don’t have to waste time cleaning/booking appointments/sending emails/folding laundry if you’re on top of things.

This might be just me, but I do better when my personal life is organised. My brain is like a terrible phone with limited data – I’ve got to keep some memory space free for important stuff. So uncluttering is a must.

Do I sometimes jam stuff out of sight? Shove it under the bed or in the wardrobe? Yes.

I am but human after all.

BE BRAVE ONE STEP AT A TIME

When I was teaching in Eastern Europe, day to day life didn’t always feel like the easiest thing. Go down to the shops? Where they don’t understand a word I say and I can’t understand anything they say either? I do words – I write them, I read them, and I taught about them. To not understand anything? That felt terrifying.

One memorable occasion, after a long day of teaching … I couldn’t quite face it. I had to do the shopping (you’ve got to eat) but I withdraw into myself, wrapping myself with a bit of numbness and a lot of ‘put your head down, don’t draw attention to yourself.’ That kind of sucked and I felt like I was a complete failure of an adventurer …

But here’s a secret: being brave doesn’t always mean doing big huge things. It can be little things too. No one but you knows just how much effort it takes to smile at that stranger, to step onto the bus, to attempt something in a different language.

Bravery – like adventures – comes in all shapes and sizes and every little bit should be celebrated. Being brave doesn’t mean you don’t feel afraid or a little bit cowardly – being brave means you do things in spite of those feelings.

Keep going.

You got this.

BE BRIGHT-EYED IT’S ALL IN THE MIND

Adventures come in many forms. Big. Small. Medium. Tiny. Ginormous. And it’s all down to your mindset. You could view doing the weekly shopping as a chore OR you could view it as an opportunity to slip a pun in when speaking to a cashier, decide who among your fellow shoppers is a secret agent or a shapeshifter or is secretly addicted to growing peppers, make multiple words out of advertising, or buy an item of food you’d never ordinarily touch.

Perspective – it’s powerful. Choose to see the bright side of things. Choose to find the extraordinary in the ordinary. Choose adventures – in whatever way they come.

Life itself is an adventure and it’s a big one.

Choose to see the beauty. Choose to see the fun. Choose, and find joy in it.

Characters, On Research, On Writing

The Masks We Wear

At the moment, I have two projects that I am working on. One has multiple points of view, the other a single one. Both have their advantages. With the single point of view, there is the challenge to subtly show other characters’ emotions/thoughts without stating facts that the POV character doesn’t have a clue about – after all, we are stuck in his/her head and can’t reveal things to the reader that the Main Character doesn’t know.

For example, here is a character who has no idea of the true, deadly identity of the man in the room with her. Writing the following is blatantly wrong – because, unless she suddenly developes an improbable case of telepathy, the truth is hidden from her:

‘He was angry with Anne and gave her a chilling smile – the sort a snake would give if it possessed the ability to smile. Because he was the murderer and she had just laid open a vital clue like a monkey peeling a banana.’

Yes, the man may be a murderer, and yes, the clue may be vital … but the POV character doesn’t know it. The truth is there, but it’s hidden. All she is seeing is a man smiling a little unpleasantly after she has told him a theory of hers.

John smiled slowly and it felt like someone had left the door open, allowing the cold air in. Anne shivered and gave him a weak grin.

It is almost like playing a game of hide and seek – I, the writer, am in possession of all the facts, but my character isn’t. It is up to me to show the facts through the character’s eyes – but quietly, not in your face. It would be cheating to have someone come up to the Main Character and say, “Well, I dislike you immensely and am planning to poison you tomorrow.”

Who does that? No – the MC would pick it up through the little things – a sneer here, a scoff there. A cold word or a disdainful look. Or maybe the villain hides his hatred and tiny, hints have to be dropped; a brief, frozen look before the welcoming smile drops in place. Perhaps the MC remains oblivous to all this – perhaps because of her background – and maybe it is the readers who must pick up the hints alone.

click to return to the previous pageIn a way, it is a little like a masquerade – the POV character has her mask in place, and both she and we know what lies beneath it (though sometimes the POV character can wear a mask to the readers – which of course is another layer of subtlety). Everyone else, however, has their masks on. Thoughts, ambitions, feelings all run beneath their masks but she and the reader cannot see it – and must endeavor to peek beneath the masks through observations and conversation.

It’s fascinating.

Characters, On Writing

Perspective.

Know what I’m finding interesting?

Characters. And their perspectives.

For instance, an Advisor – one who has lived his life with logic and reason, who excels in politics and wisdom, and is perhaps a little timid, faced with a situation – say a madman coming into a room with a knife – would respond differently to the Captain of the Guard whose life is not so much based upon his brain, but rather his speed, brawn and bravery:

The Advisor:

Shock, that was the first feeling. The second was the urge to take several paces backwards. The third was his hoarse cry (or was it a shriek? He didn’t know and couldn’t care) for the guards. The man – his eyes crazed and wild – began walking towards him, knife raised. He saw the knife glint in the candlelight – so small an object in so big a room; yet, at this moment, by far the most deadly. He backed away, unaware of how clammy his hands were or the erratic beating of his heart. The madman picked up his pace, a smile spreading across his face. The Advisor screamed.

The Captain:

Upon hearing the scream, Roderick – Captain of the Guard and Hero of the Crown, Bravest of the Brave and King of the Hunt, burst through the side door and into the room. He understood the situation in a moment and felt the thrill of the chase fill his veins. Within the blinking of an eye he threw his spear, in a heartbeat he was standing over his felled prey, a grin upon his lips. But then he saw the terrified Advisor and hastily assumed a solemn expression, “You are safe now, my lord.”

See how differently they react? Different personalities, different backgrounds, different fears, different reactions.

Fascinating, no?

Window
this picture is supposed to have something vaguely to do with perspective …

PS: You may have noticed that the blog has changed names. Yes, it has. Lettuce Write, people! Okay, maybe that’s a terrible pun …