What Goes Through Your Head When You Live in Earthquake Country

Here in earthquake country, we often have “plans” set aside about what we’d do in case of an earthquake: Flashlight? Check. Bottled water? Check. Hard-soled shoes beside the bed? Check.

But what I often think about is what I’m wearing to bed.

Californians – am I alone here?

I often go to bed in … well, I can’t even tell you what I go to bed in. Let’s just say it wouldn’t look very good out on the sidewalk come a good 7.2 on the Richter scale. …

But the stranger thing, perhaps, is that this actually goes through my mind every night.

Am I alone in this?

The Basics of Critiquing II: More on Protagonists and (Slippery) Goals

So earlier we were talking about the basics of critiquing being identifying the protagonist, and identifying the goal.  But both can be a little tricky, so I thought I’d take the discussion to the next level.

What if the protagonist isn’t clear?

Protags can be much trickier than you think. And there are other questions that come up:

  • Can there be more than one?
  • Is he always the “good guy”?

Identifying the protagonist can be tricky because it can seem like there are lots of “important” people in the book. (And in romance novels, there are always two, right? The hero and a heroine?) Most argue that  there can only be one protagonist, but then “ensemble pieces” will invariably come up in the conversation (The Big Chill, for instance) and shoot that theory out of the water. Continue reading

The Basics of Critiquing: The Protagonist and the Goal

Interesting discussion the other day on how we all critique. It really made me think about how I approach a story and when I think a book is “good” or if it leaves me feeling flat. Do you ever read a book and just feel “flat”? And maybe your friend just LOVED it, so you wonder what you missed, or didn’t get?

(Yeah, me too. …)

Lauran left a similar comment the other day when we were discussing how we critique  about how, even when reading a book for book club, she sometimes finds it difficult to express what specifically she likes and dislikes. (I hear ya, sister.)

But here’s the deal: It probably comes down to the most basic of reactions to the most basic beginnings of critiquing. It probably has to do with your reaction to the goal.

What’s that?

The most basic plot of any story is that there is a protagonist. And, as the book opens, he has a goal. Every novel, every movie, every short story, is simply watching the protagonist try to get his goal. … Continue reading

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