Posts tagged ‘bloggers’
Top Famous Fictional Heroines
Heroine is defined as a woman admired or idolized for her courage, outstanding achievement, or noble qualities. In a more literary context, the definition is trimmed down somewhat to the chief female character in a book, a play, a movie who is typically identified with good qualities and with whom the reader is expected to sympathize.
Although there have been many examples of literary heroines throughout history, being Greek, I am more familiar with the amazing work of Sophocles, Antigone. Antigone is a daughter of the accidentally incestuous marriage between King Oedipus of Thebes and his mother Jocasta. She is the subject of a popular story in which she attempts to secure a respectable burial for her brother Polynices, even though he was a traitor to Thebes and the law forbids even mourning for him, on pain of death. Sophocles’ Antigone ends in disaster, with Antigone hanging herself after being walled up, and Creon’s son Haemon (or Haimon), who loved Antigone, killing himself after finding her body. Queen Eurydice, wife of King Creon, also kills herself at the end of the story due to seeing such actions allowed by her husband.
Even though many years have passed since then, I still remember being taught this play in high school. I vividly recall me questioning Sophocle’s choice of tormenting Antigone for wanting to the do the ‘right thing’. This is the beauty of literature, the ability to generate either internal or external discussions and debates over basic human experiences and emotions. Sophocles is a master and Antigone became my definition of a true heroine, the benchmark for all future references to this specific noun.
Sophocles is long gone (what a shame) but thankfully many more authors have created amazing characters for us to enjoy and admire. Just to name a few: Edna Pontellier, Madame Bovary, Moll Flanders, Anna Karenina, Lily Bart, Jane Eyre, Hester Prynne, Elizabeth Bennet, Daisy Miller, and Murasaki Shikibu.
And maybe a few more: Lucy Honeychurch, Antonia Shimerdas, Ellen Olenska, Josephine (Jo) March, Isabel Archer, Scarlett O’Hara, Cathy Earnshaw, Daisy Miller, Lizzie Bennet, Lily Bart, Eliza Doolittle, Juliet, Lady Macbeth, Gertrude, Beatrice, Maid Marian
Read more about famous fictional heroines. These novels feature just a few of the many…
Imagined in the late fourteenth-century, the Wife of Bath is one of literature’s earliest promiscuous ladies. Jovial and clever, she regales a band of traveling religious pilgrims with tales of former husbands. (She’s got five, the first one wed at the age of twelve.) Hence the name: she’s been a wife over and over and over again. Some women are white bread, she says, but freely admits that she’s a coarser loaf of barley—and this is exactly why I’m drawn to her. She’s not ashamed of her sexuality, or how it serves her desire for power.
Rosa Dartle has had a scar across her face since she was young—the cruel gift of a narcissistic step-brother—and it’s turned her undesirable and bitter. The scar almost becomes a character in its own right; it nearly glows whenever she gets upset. Rosa’s mean to almost everyone. But I like her anyway, maybe because no one else does. She’s not appealing to men, she’s pissed about it, and she’s willing to say so. She’s the essential wounded lady. I respect her anger, and the fierce intelligence beneath it.
She’s a married woman who abandons her husband and son to run away with the charming playboy she’s fallen in love with. But despite all this—because of it, actually—she’s become one of fiction’s most enduring tragic heroines. Why do we care about her? She wants something more than stability from a man. She wants passion. But it’s not just that she believes in love, it’s that she suffers for this belief. She doubts herself. She’s needy. She ends up vulnerable and pathetic, betrayed by her own love as much as the society that disproves of it. She isn’t afforded any glory as compensation for her aspirations. She has to pay for them. I never know what to make of Anna. I get angry with her, and love her, and root for her, and root against her, and feel deeply sad for her, and what good is a heroine, in the end, if she doesn’t make us feel all these things?
Lena Grove, from William Faulkner’s Light in August
Lena Grove is young and poor and pregnant in the middle of the Deep South. The father of her child has abandoned her, but she’s determined not to let him get away with it. She sets out on foot to track him down. Destiny deals her the victim’s portion but she refuses to accept it. Without money or companions or even a horse, she fights back. She’s not particularly clever or subtle, but I don’t miss these things in her; she’s determined to be a mother, and this means finding her baby a father. She’s on a primal quest. She turns resourcefulness into an art.
Maria Wyeth, from Joan Didion’s Play It As It Lays
Maria Wyeth is a washed-up film star with a troubled marriage and a disabled young daughter. Didion’s minimal, knife-like prose brings her hardened psyche into pristine focus—besides her daughter, Maria isn’t sure what to care about, and her reckless self-destruction and affairs are the only way she knows to articulate this hopelessness. I didn’t like Maria, but I found something deeply moving in her plight—the way she’d given up, but kept on going, the fact that she kept caring about her daughter long after she’d stopped caring about herself.
Patsy McLemoore, from Michelle Huneven’s Blame
When we first meet her, it seems like Patsy might be a tough character to root for. She’s an alcoholic history professor—smart and beautiful, sure, but also deeply thoughtless and self-absorbed—who accidentally runs over two Jehovah’s Witnesses in a drunken blackout and kills them. The novel follows her through years of prison, recovery, and atonement. Along the way, we see her struggle through a kind of guilt nearly impossible to comprehend. She doesn’t live a martyr’s life, but she tries her best to live a good one. I found, in the end, that she’d dug herself out of the hole of her own character—had, somewhere along the line, captured my sympathy and my respect.
Maria Christina, from Richard Romanus’ Chrysalis
‘Chrsyalis‘ tells the story of 17 year old Maria Christina, who lives in Metsovo, a small mountain village in Greece, where women are judged according to their physical strength. World War II, the Greek Civil war and other calamities transform this young woman into a heroine. The crisis affects the fate of three generations, all of whom experience the peril of those years in different ways, changing not only the community and Maria Christina’s destiny, but also redefining the role of women in society.
I am absolutely certain that you’ll love these books, not only because they are very well written but because they are full of love, honesty and sincerity.
Partially based on a list complied by Esther Lombardi, (About.com Guide)
A Brief History Of Four Letter Words
by Ester Inglis-Arkell
If you weren’t so miserable in high school, where would you be today? For writers, angst is everything. Here’s a reblog:reblog by Hannah Goodman on turning high school’s funny and/or humiliating moments in literary gold.
Sometimes writers have snobbish attitude toward the writing we witness in movies and television shows. Snobby to the point of not watching. I think if we plan our television or movie time well and think of it as research, there’s a lot to learned from other kinds of media. What’s surprised me most as I’ve become an editor of writing, is how much editing of tv shows I do in my head as I’m watching.
Aside from the immediate benefit of getting yourself away from the computer screen and the blackhole of the Internet, studying movies and TV shows is a great way to enhance your storytelling skills. No, writing a script is not the same as writing a novel. But if you look beyond the differences in written format you’ll find some amazing similarities.
. . . .
We all have film characters we love, hate, or even love to hate. Have you ever stopped to think of why? Is it their viewpoint? Dialogue? Mannerisms? Something you never really noticed until asked this question? The most accurate answer is “all of the above.” Character = the sum of its traits.
If you’re having trouble making your characters individually unique, or the main players don’t seem to have that It Factor, select one of your favorite film characters and study everything he does in the story. What makes him stand out? How does he react and interact with the other characters? What does he do when faced with a tough decision? How do you know what that character is feeling without being “inside his head”?
To sharpen your character viewpoint skills, try this exercise:
Watch one scene of a movie (that you’re familiar with) that involves two or more characters. Now write that scene from each of the different characters’ eyes, as you would in a novel–include setting description, thoughts, sensory details, emotion, whatever is relevant. Different characters have different views of the same situation. This should show in your writing.
. . . .
Select five movies you’ve never seen before. Watch each movie and note whether you were engaged from beginning to end. If you weren’t, note what point you lost interest. If a movie isn’t doing it for me, that point is often within the first 20 minutes. Then ask yourself, Did I lose interest because my expectation for that movie wasn’t met? Or, Did I lose interest because, no matter what my expectation, the movie was just plain boring?
Bad pacing bores the audience. But a good pace doesn’t necessarily mean fast and action-packed. Good pacing means constant forward momentum of the story. This is why good literary fiction can be thrilling, and bad science fiction can put you to sleep.
Anything that doesn’t move the story forward must be cut. Analyze individual scenes in movies. They begin in media res, and end as soon as the point of the scene has been made. The same should be said of your novels. No room for boring fluff, no matter how beautiful the prose. We live in a busy world. Even prolific readers don’t have time to read everything. More often than not, they will choose the book that feels like it’s moving toward something over one that feels like it’s going nowhere.
I also write with a soundtrack. My novel, Merrily He Rolls Along, theatrical musical comedy with fiction. In my iTunes I’ve even created a special playlist for each chapter. Sometimes I imagine the voice I want to convey through whatever lyrics. But mostly, as this blogger writes, it about how the music makes me feel as I write.
Once a week I host a writer who uses music as part of their creative process – perhaps to tap into a character, populate a mysterious place, or explore the depths in a pivotal moment. This week’s post is by YA author Laura Pauling @laurapauling
To quote Randy Jackson from American Idol: ‘The transference of emotion is what the audience wants.’
Readers more than anything want to feel what we’re feeling when we put our hearts into a story. Whether it’s heartbreak, humour, revenge, sorrow…etc. And sometimes listening to the right kind of music, a certain song that pushes my heart to its limit, can transfer over to my writing.
Stories at your fingertips
So when I was writing A Spy Like Me, I…
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This is great advice to writers on thinking about the scope of your work. I know the little truths come easily for me. The big Truths always look line a moving target.
how to find the Big Meaning of your novel (+ blog) that will make your readers fall wildly in love with you
So I realized I was coming at my novel from the outside in.
I’d created a complex storyworld with a cast of characters and tangled backstory shaping the frontstory. It was like I had the map, but couldn’t find the interstate freeway leading to my destination. I was going down some dark country roads, and it was only a matter of time before I’d end up in a town of cannibals or something.
(Cue the sound of a chainsaw.
…On second thought, DON’T.)
As Roz Morris suggests in her book NAIL YOUR NOVEL, one way to help yourself get unstuck is to remind yourself why you wanted to write the damn thing in the first place.
For me, for this book, it was the idea of repetition compulsion: how we recreate relationships and situations from the past in an ongoing effort to resolve them. I’m using reincarnation as a metaphor for that.
But what is the point of the book? If art is the creative demonstration of a truth, what is the truth I am trying to prove? I needed to get at the novel from the inside out.
Back to basics: a story is about a character who wants something and must overcome obstacles to get it.
But in order to do that, she’s forced to change in some way.
It’s in the overcoming of those obstacles that she finds what she lacks, and acquires what she needs, to achieve her goal (or not). The meaning of the story – the thematic significance – is in that character growth. That shift in consciousness that makes a new life possible.
In her book THE PLOT WHISPERER, Martha Alderson advises you to look to your own life, for your own truths, that you can then bring to bear on your novel. What are the big truths of your life?
I’m talking what Jim Signorelli refers to as big-t Truths, those metaphysical truths that we can’t measure or quantify but recognize, somehow, as right. We vibe with them.
In contrast, little-t truths are the facts and figures we find in the history books, for example. So-called objective information. (It’s not like history is, you know, written by the victors or anything.)
Little-t truths can be manipulated.
Big-t Truths cannot: they are what they are, and they remain the same from Homer to Shakespeare to Spielberg to Joyce Carol Oates. They are the abstract truths that live behind, and in between, and beneath the other kind. Little-t truths inform us; big-T truths live inside us, and a writer doesn’t teach or preach so much as stir them to life. We feel that shiver of recognition, that sense of deepening alignment with the values of the novel, as we live vicariously through the characters and arrive at a sense of what it all means.
Big-t truths live in your platform as well, your blog – that is, if you want to create something powerful enough to attract and engage new readers and deepen your connections with your fans.
It comes back to the question: What do you stand for? What is your purpose? What is your defining value or ideal?
The nature of blogging (and online writing in general) is to provide information that solves problems, that illuminates or improves your reader’s life in some way. Think of that information as the bait on the hook that draws your readers to you (you just want to make sure that it’s the right bait for the right kind of audience).
But to turn those readers into fans, you need to deepen that engagement, because information on its own isn’t enough.
The gurus will say that you need to connect with readers emotionally, and that’s true. But more than that, you need them to resonate with you. And that happens when they can sense the big-t Truth living behind that information, shaping the delivery of that information, and they recognize it as their Truth as well.
Community develops around shared values.
To find yours, Signorelli suggests what he calls the “laddering interview”, or what is elsewhere known as “the five whys”. You explore the motivation behind your motivation behind your motivation until you get to its root cause. That’s where you find your Truth.
Why blog about creativity?
Because I think it’s important to a well-lived life, a healthy society.
Because it deepens your connection to yourself and the world.
Because it helps you explore and develop your identity, your voice, your vision, and project that into the world.
So you can interact with the world as your full-bodied, amplified, authentic self, which allows you to stand in your power and connect with like-minded souls.
So you can work together to create a movement, raise awareness, find innovative solutions, that change the world. And sell your work and make some money as a side benefit.
You try it.
Getting back to my novel, this is the thematic statement I came up with:
The hunger for love leads to distortions of love, but only real love can heal and transcend the cycle of exploitative relationships.
So my character has to grow toward genuine love and intimacy in a way that helps her save herself (and others). I have to create the events, characters and situations – the objective information, the little-t truths, the ‘plot’ — forcing her to do that.
Wish me luck.
What are the Truths that you’re working with?
In an interview in which he describes his DUI arrest, the decision to go to war in Iraq and other key moments of his life, George Bush says that the “worst moment of his Presidency” was when a rap star who 60% of Americans wouldn’t recognize if they saw on the street said he “didn’t like black people”.