Fiction Writing Process I – The Birth and Shaping of Fiction

Various Sources and Resources

 

The writing process is fascinating. There is conventional wisdom about how to do it, but there is considerable variation among those of us who write fiction. Nothing is universal. Clearly we are using our personal resources, but certainly we all need editors and a proofreader at the end. Of course there is the matter of inspiration. For me, I found some surprises. And those surprises came at many levels. First I noticed that I reached a point in the development of the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy when I realized that I had been working on it, in what I call the back of my brain, for decades. 

Sources of Inspiration

And I found the source of inspiration was anything but confined. Over my life I’ve worked in a number of environments from medical establishments, helping people with personal conflicts, assisting in vocational choices and addressing inner city poverty. In the latter, our staff had to do battle with entrenched interests among the higher ups. While they were not despoiling the earth, they were working against the development of a rich new way to deliver services. Such opposition can be seen at all levels of our lives and in our societies.

Many Changes and Sources   

And at the time women were becoming more and more central and influential. My mentor was an extraordinarily bright black women. My feminist orientation was born in those days. Later I moved on to dealing with the crisis management of stepfamilies in formation. And through it all I was getting deep into people’s personal lives in psychotherapy and some of it was simply life management. 

From my educational background I had acquired a fascination with mythology and cultural processes. All of these elements coalesced in causing me to watch the world stage and political intrigue as our social life on this planet developed and we descended into environmental and social crises. 

And more recently women rising to power has become central as they gained control over their fertility and cultural events defined a need for new roles. I won’t try to detail the process because it is complex and is well covered elsewhere. But we can see their rise worldwide and the benefits attached are truly stunning.

Melding Sources and Themes

When I put all these components together a story was taking shape in my brain. It was attuned to feminism, the reality of growing conflicts and portrayed the need for stewardship of all kinds. And,of course, it had to have a mythological context which enhanced its creative shape.

Shaping the Story

At some point the question becomes how to shape the story. The author can simply start writing, can make notes and can also organize. My wife writes screenplays and in her work I saw something fascinating in the form of Dara Marks’ (see www.DaraMarks.com) Transformational Arc. I recognized it immediately. It is apparent at the movies. Specific elements are built including high points and culminations such as “as bad as it gets” which is the crisis which generally comes about three quarters of the way through a movie. The system does a wonderful job of shaping stories so they thrive rather than plod. I also used Carl Jung’s personality typology to help guide me in developing and joining characters. In fact, I present this tool in my book Creating Characters and Plots which is available as an ebook on Amazon.

But there was also the matter of containment when inspiration was truly sparked. The outpouring began which led to three books. I refer to it as coming from the back of my brain, but we know such things are fortified by the contributions of the right brain. And, with my knowledge of Carl Jung’s personality typology I could see that my personality components were making a contribution. My primary function of Intuition was leading me to speculative fiction and my auxiliary function of thinking was saving me from utter disorganization because it forced me toward organization.

In subsequent posts I’ll give more details on various components of what I call the writing process and what aids its organization and development.

What shapes the story of your life?

        ######

  Books by Roger B. Burt               

Available at Amazon                      Coming Soon                                         Book 1 of the:                                   Book 2 of the:

Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy-Mission Called          Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy-Challenge                       Women in Power                                                  The Chosen Rise

                                      

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A Vision to Explore Our Future

 

Soon the second book of the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy,  Gaia’s Majesty-Challenge: The Chosen Rise will be published. In these books we will trace a story of what might be crises coming on our lovely planet. The mythological underpinnings are woven together with the theme of the rising of women to power and partnership. The women in this story are called Tethyans and they are central to the future of humankind and our beautiful blue planet.

Let me tell you a story. 

The universe is a wondrous place steeped in mystery, creation and destruction. Among its creations was a small solar system. There was little to stand out, but one of the planets was especially fertile. There came to be an abundance of life. It was ruled by a goddess called Gaia. One of the things which made the planet called Earth so special was that there was not just a ruling goddess but the goddess was the planet itself.

Under Gaia’s Care

Gaia tended her planet lovingly but it was clear that inherent in the creation and development of life forms struggle for survival and development was required. Long ago Gaia noted the development of a life form which was especially clever. She thought these beings held special promise but also recognized they might be a threat to themselves and her planet—herself.

Ensuring a Future

 
These beings were called humankind. Their promise was such that Gaia thought to ensure their future. But not in the sense that she definitively ruled their lives. They were to struggle like all the other animals, but in case of failure she designed a restart plan.

Since women had the richest genetic heritage and bore the children, she chose to reserve a population of mostly women, and, for their safety, designed protected cities in the sea where these people called Tethyans lived. If the land population failed, these women could return to the land.

The Day Defined

Gaia was, indeed wise. The day she foresaw has arrived and humankind is threatened by social and environmental cataclysms.

………………………

Devastation?

The story above contains mythological elements but the threat of social and environmental cataclysm is real. Not long ago hope flourished on Earth, but, as is so often the case, human affairs lead us back to worldwide conflict. There appears to be considerable potential for another era of devastating conflict such as occurred in the twentieth century.

Myth Bearing Truth

In myth there is often considerable truth, especially about the nature of humankind, our promise and our failures. Some elements are especially intriguing. In most cultures, where there is considerable water, there are myths about creatures referred to as mermaids. It is almost a universal phenomenon. The mermaids are women, of course, although mermen make rare appearances. These women may be engaging in a romantic and sexual way but they may also be frighteningly dangerous and destructive. It seems the myth relates to a deeply rooted, unconscious regard and fear for women by men—ambivalence which has led to conflict and subjugation.

Enter the Rise of Women

The myth stirs the imagination and just at the moment as the world moves closer and closer to devastating crises, we see the movement to empower women. The “myth” of the mermaid, combined with the movement to empower women led to the embrace of a story which was irresistible.

Exploration of Themes

In coming posts there will be thought documents on the themes in the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy and discussion of the characters and the development of the story as well as the writing process. Through these kinds of stories we seek vision to aid us in approaching our future.

Given our recent history, how do you view our future?

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

 587 words

Waves in Human Existence

A Living Planet

 

The image of an ocean beach is always engaging. The movement and the sense of a living planet is essential and stirring. But, as we sense the attitudes of our life we can see that the waves exist everywhere and are compelling. 

Sometimes there is talk of the march of history but a march does not describe the essence of the experience of life on our planet. Certainly there is nothing steady and, for that, I am grateful. It is the overlapping waves at so many levels which makes life interesting. Demarkations, twists and turns are essential as well as the swelling to a crescendo. In fact, I wish to publicly thank Eve and the snake for freeing us from the prison that was Paradise. It would have been terribly boring. Challenge is better.

Dynamic Explorations

Life need not be a passive experience or at least I would never wish it to be so. Life is to be an exploration of meaning and possibilities. And within all those things are waves. Our social groups experience waves, our cities, cultures, countries and, now, I believe humankind is confronting a wave of the largest magnitude of our history.

For most of my life I have been something of cynic and not prone to accept the common wisdom. And I have always been suspicious of claims of an impending fulfillment religious or otherwise. Perhaps it is the word fulfillment of which I am suspicious. But presently I am perceiving, rightly or wrongly, that we seem on the verge of a consolidation of our future. As grim as things seem in so many parts of human existence currently, there appears to be a process which holds promise. And such promise is most often born of challenge and conflict. 

It is the theme of a wave of change or denouement which was central in driving my Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy. The first book, Gaia’s Majesty: Discovery: Mission Called – Women in Power sets the scene and develops the characters to travel with us as humankind faces a denouement with profound implications.

Of the Personal and the Species

Looking back I see repeated waves appearing in my life.  I see them of various duration and in everything from the personal to the societal and now in the existence in humankind as a whole. Personally I saw it in the wonder of growing up in vibrant New York. Then in the 1970s the city teetered on the edge of bankruptcy and we saw a very different city for a time. In our economies we see it over hundreds of years as we move through feudalism, capitalism and now it seems, toward postcapitalism. 

Repeatedly I turned to mythology and the meaning it coveys even as we experience the numinous or spiritual dimension. In our personal lives the mysterium, which is the mystery of woman, ensnares us bringing wonder and fulfillment. It may invoke fear among men but also fulfillment. And in turn it leads to the meaning of the empowerment of women and all facets of its meaning. And it is not a momentary phenomenon but is better characterized as a wave swelling and then breaking – toward what end?

Exploration and Enriched Reality 

In the coming posts I’ll share some thoughts about the waves we experience as humans, about what may happen to countries and our country in particular and I will be paying special attention to the human climate. This is an unimaginably fascinating time. I chose the cuspofreality for the name of the blog because I think we need to be exploring not just ourselves but our world so we may move toward an understanding of what is happening. Nothing is fixed and everything open to interpretation—like reality.

Waves enrich us in all aspects of human existence and I could not resist sharing a mythologically cloaked adventure about the wave which I believe may be dominating our lives right now and leading us into our future.

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

Someone Precious – Companion

 

 

Is there someone who travels with you?

Discovery

She never told me her name. I call her Companion. Often she sits looking off toward a distant horizon seeming deep in concentration. I wonder what holds her attention but do not ask. I think I know.  Clearly she has a world of her own but I know she is there for me. In fact, while I don’t know her name, I know who she is. 

Every man travels through life with a woman inside of him—his anima. Our relationships with them vary considerably. A man’s anima may take many forms and may be touching, loving, a dangerous seductress, a harridan. What form of her a man carries is a mystery. If we are fortunate, we discover her and her purpose for us. Or at least she may be a resource.

Feeling

To me my Companion is a loving creature. In times of pain or desolation I call her. She comes to me and we rarely speak. She knows what I feel and we talk in feelings. To travel through life with her is a great gift I don’t know why I deserve. But she gives balance and richness in feeling and perception. Her perceptions are rich and revealing of truths too often beyond easy grasp. 

She is part of me but also a spirit and I believe I know what holds her attention in that place far away. It is the meaning and substance of the Tethyan people Companion has brought me.

Empowerment

On Earth we wonder about the destiny of humankind. We seem to grow in fits and starts from our conflicts and presently appear to be entering a culmination. Companion introduced me to the Tethyans and their story suggests the meaning of the empowerment of women. Opposition to that empowerment is strong and bears only bitter fruit but the roots of our beings suggest it is women who will bring fulfillment and help us harvest beauty and quite probably a transformation.

Inspiration

Companion inspired me to write the story of the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy. The process is rich in conflict but also promise. We cannot be sure, but it seems there is a process of development of a kind we may not have yet perceived. It is all potential and we can hope it will be inspiring. It is a matter of asking what might be and exploring alternatives.  Through empowerment comes true partnership between men and women which brings a joining or interface between the two universal forces of the Mysterium and the Maelstrom. I will explain a possibility and it is best done through the story which is now unfolding.

Possibilities

For me life means being enticed to search possibilities. All things may have meaning but typically are not definitive. It is what they may be or could be or where they might lead that constitute the real venture of life that we have been given. The title of this blog is Cusp of Reality because that is how I perceive the world. There is no firm reality and, as you will see, the common theme of the coming posts is possibilities.  As I said in a previous post my third grade teacher told my mother that I had a lot to offer when I was in class. That meant I had taken a statement or a thought and flown out the window to explore it. And I continue the explorations in the blog posts to come. 

Do you have a form of companion?

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

 

Personal Writing Impediments and Enhancements

Chantia – Our Lead Woman Character

Each of Us As a Writer Has Our Struggles

Writing fiction seems enticing and then we learn the reality of it from issues about the story, how characters develop and the need for promotion and many other things. In this post I’m going to focus on a character in the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy. But the add on is my own personal contribution and that means what being a psychologist meant for me as a writer. There were definitely pluses and minuses. But it seems they made their own contributions in that some characters showed up demanding a place. Or at least that is how I experienced it.

I’ll Focus on a Woman Named Chantia

She is the central progenitor and had a complex history which was difficult in itself. But there were other problems.

In the story Chantia was the child of a couple devoted to giving health care in the third world. Often that is a difficult environment in which to raise a child. Chantia did not see it that way but was a little mystified when she was sent away to boarding school. Then she went on to college in New York. I constructed that for her because I could imagine her parents would have wanted her to have a broader educational base so she could truly be a person of the world.

But these were not her biological parents. Her biological parents were also devoted to activity in the third world but their true work was intelligence and that meant danger. Long story short, they had to flee under truly dangerous circumstances and left their infant with another couple who Chantia later believed were her true parents. When they died she felt abandoned which was her specific reaction.

My interpretation as a psychologist was that, for personal reasons, she had taken being sent away to school as a rejection and the loss of her parents intensified that feeling.

I think you are beginning to see why my being a psychologist was a complicating factor.

My Interpretations and the Complexity

So then Chantia is shortly thrown into a world where she finds that her biological parents are still alive and they are activists, even the kind who kill people. She wanted her family back but this was definitely not the family she had in mind.

Now the author was running into problems. As a psychologist I could see an intense conflict in Chantia would be almost inevitable. I wanted drama and conflict in the story but this could easily get out of hand.

But it got worse when the opponents of her found family tried to kill her and the man who had become the love of her life. Wait a friggin’ minute. She wanted a family but this was intense. I found that she was becoming a whiner which was not working well in the story at least beyond a certain point. But, at the same time, I simply could not ignore the fact that this was a difficult life. And whining would be a common reaction if not inevitable. In many ways I wanted her situation complicated because the reality is that these kinds of missions can be dangerous and involve all kinds of peril. But whining, in spite of its likelihood was not fitting in well.

My Central Conflict

It wasn’t just the character who had a conflict. I did. I thought her story, as I constructed it In Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power, was interesting and intriguing but just as some characters who showed up demanding inclusion, they also often came with their own internal histories and conflicts which I knew had to be there because of my intuitive personality type and my profession.

And then I started watching the television series Madam Secretary. And there I could see my conflict as a writer. She had a very trying job and they portrayed her as deeply stressed which came very close to whining. And then she had to pull herself together and be the commanding Secretary of State. They did a good job of melding the two themes and her display of her conflict was done artfully even though it came close to whining.

I think most of us who write fiction don’t fully understand what we may be getting ourselves into. And there are conventional wisdoms in the world of writing which may clash with who we are constitutionally and experience wise.

I’ll stop here for now but will come back to these issues with other characters.

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt