01 December 2007

Plot and Character

Thanksgiving came quickly. Not much advance planning except in brief contemplation when I plotted out vague ideas of food and events. Tradition dictated lunch and Thanksgiving dinner at home. Old family friends to join us for dessert. Next day, leftovers at the beach. Fingers crossed that once again Northern California would offer up one of the best beach days of the year.

Decisions made for who brings what, where and when.... Pre-plotting gives me a feeling of control over that which I know is uncontrollable. As much as I can plot out the events, the dishes, grocery lists, and sleeping arrangement, I know from experience that with the characters involved, disaster loomed.

The End of the Beginning arrives the Monday before Thanksgiving as the first family members trickle in.

Old friends invited say yes. Wednesday spent pre-cooking with Sister One, Mother, and Niece One. The doorbell rings. Niece Two beams at my look of surprise. Niece Three arrives. More sleeping arrangement plotted out. Grocery lists grow longer.

The big day arrives. Antagonists and allies align. Yes, predictably, the fun and surprises led to a Crisis, but this year there was also a personally satisfying Climax at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk on a glorious ride on the Big Dipper, the oldest wooden roller coaster in America.

One of the benefits of working with writers about plot is knowing the Universal Story form inside and out. As weird as it sounds, I live plot. That means I, as the protagonist of my own life, have the power to create Climax after Climax of my own liking.

Sounds simple, doesn't it? The challenge is to stay conscious of my own Character Emotional Development. If I get too caught up in the Dramatic Action of others in the moment, I lose clarity.