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 more 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 that 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?

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

A New Year of Peril and Promise

 

Coming this spring Gaia’s Majesty-Challenge: The Chosen Rise

Book 2  of the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy

                

Look at the mother’s expressions in picture on right. Fabulous!

A New Year of Peril and Promise

Intriguing Possibilities

Now comes a new year. It is both a year fraught with peril for America but one which also holds extraordinary promise. By and large I’m going to leave the political analyses to others although it is very hard to separate politics from policy and process, including the content in fiction writing.

This year in my blog I’m going to cover a variety of topics.In the spring the second book of my Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy will be published. (See cover at top of page.) Among issues I will be covering related to the trilogy will be the origins of the story in the series, expanded commentary about key Andromeda women warriors in Majesty, and commentary on some issues facing authors. I’m also going to make a few comments related to the adventures my wife and I had in the Caribbean as the world expanded for us. But the major focus near term will be the issue of the empowerment of women and a call for men to examine themselves and their culture. What is happening with women offers huge potential. It is an opportunity we must seize.

Call for a Movement

A Collective Search

We have a feminist movement and it’s time for a masculinist movement. If you think that means a movement in opposition to feminism, that is the opposite of what is needed. We need a movement in which men together evaluate themselves, male culture and what has been holding them back. We can only dimly see where that may lead us.

With this new year and all its import, I’m going to begin a new series which I’m calling the Masculinism Movement. (Hear the echoes of the words “Feminism Movement”.) The Women’s Liberation Movement in the 1960s opened with women coming together in groups to evaluate their positions and their way forward. Now that we are entering a period where we look toward full empowerment of women, it’s time for men to come together in groups to assess the male culture and to own how they have been and what has been done to them. The recent cresting of sexual harassment allegations are instructive but are only one facet of problems in the male culture.

As noted, the proposed Masculinism Movement is not a movement purely to empower men. It is a movement in which men assess themselves and assess what has been holding them back in general and especially in regard to women. It is an opportunity to examine the male culture and the roots of their need to dominate and keep women subjugated. Men even inhibit the reproductive health care of their wives, mothers, children and grandchildren. It is a wholly irrational process. This is not how men are but a cultural issue.

A Personal Opportunity

Rarely have I seen men come together to deal with their culture and how their lives have been shaped by what is often tyranny and control by their fellows. Rarely is it even mentioned, but it is often assumed that men simply feed upon power and domination. There is surely a lot more to it that many men have not examined and that includes the influence of all forms of male culture in their lives. These influences extend to their relationships with women and how they function in our society. If men are to change and we are to truly open the full potential for our future, men must examine themselves. That is the force of the movement and it can help us reshape our societies. And some of the issues for men surely may relate to insecurity or distorted self concepts often reflecting what has happened to them personally or as a function of the larger male cultures.

Please let me hear your thoughts.
roger.burt@earthlink.net

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

Origins and Sources for The Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy- Part 1

Inspiration and the Author

Whatever That Means

As soon as I input the word inspiration, something inside of me asks, “what?” At once I understand. Inspiration is defined by Google as “the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative”. Does that help? Not for me. Like so many things, it raises more questions than answers and the stimulation is not just mental.

A familiar image is of the author sitting before a typewriter (now a computer) waiting for something to stir him or her or give them direction. First off we have to wonder why the author came to sit there if there was no clear inclination of direction or clarity of substance.

Inspiration does seem to have an independent life of its own. Partly because books of fiction have roots inside ourselves. Nonfiction may be simply our need to give clarity to a real world subject. But fiction is another matter.

A Process Without Clear Delineation

At the same time it just may be that we are wasting our time trying to define inspiration because we are led into a cave with a myriad turning points and possibilities. Sometimes it just may be that we have to accept that we are being stirred by something we cannot immediately define. It may be that where we begin may be nowhere near where we end up.

As such it may be best to see what we can do to focus an idea no matter how vague and see if an outline of some sort may emerge. As a psychologist I often come back to the idea that things are often not what they seem. What we call reality has anything but a hard edge and certainly inspiration may be fuzzy. We may have to simply take inspiration off its leash or find a way to do that.

A Road or An Adventure

In fiction we are certainly looking for a way down a road, an adventure of some sort. The beginning is to simply start down the road. And the road we choose may be very different depending upon the stage of our lives. We may be searching a purpose for ourselves, looking to reveal something to others or even doing an assessment of where we have been and its meaning.

Finding a Beginning Point

Looking back I have to wonder where the beginning of the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy really was. There were just two general thoughts. One was that in my life I search for possibilities and that I’m entranced by mythology. The simple explanation was that I found myself focused on the meaning of mermaids. In their own way they are so prominent. As a story began to develop it became clear that women were central and that another root was the matter of the empowerment of women.

From there I found an outline was becoming insistent and steadily clarified as it grew and grew and grew. Since I am hardly at the beginning of my life I had to realize I was doing an assessment and was turning pages to think further about what may lie in our collective future. Together we can see where it leads and search out the substance of meanings.

What is inspiration for you?

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

Irrational Control

 

Why do you think women are controlled?

Breadth of Threat

To me the image I chose to go with this post is extraordinary! I chose it because it conveys power and threat. Both are at issue in the interactions of men and women and this image clearly has a mythological quality to it.

The Mysterium Tremendum alludes to something most often seen in the realm of the myth. As indicated, it is of interest in this context because I believe it relates to the apparent need to keep women “under control” but certainly with relatively less power. It seems that women pose extraordinary threat. The fair sex? How interesting!

Naturally it may be that the need to keep women controlled or contained may merely be a matter of men wanting to retain as much power as possible. Often the argument is made that the restriction of women’s rights and freedom relate to the issue of knowing the paternity of children. While there may be betrayals, it seems unlikely to be the complete reason. Again, it is hard to come up with a totally clear and complete reason because in so many ways it is irrational. It hints at some underlying force.

The Female Power

What might that force be? There is surely no one force but one of the number may be the extraordinary attraction to a woman felt by a man. We stress a woman’s appearance certainly more than that of a man. At celebratory gatherings the men are routinely dressed in dark suits or black formal attire. It is an entirely different matter for the women.

When we look back into mythology we see the men are often dynamic warriors but dangerous women take another form entirely. They do not classically attack as much as they use extraordinary powers. Certainly in the Odyssey there are examples of the dangers Odysseus faced. There was Scylla who was originally a sea nymph loved by the sea god Poseidon. His wife poisoned her bath water and created a creature with 12 feet and six heads on long snaky necks. Her loins were girded with the heads of baying dogs. Clearly a very dangerous woman. And there was Charybdis, also female, who was a dangerous whirlpool.

At a more generic level we see the contrast between witches and warlocks. Witches are generally more dangerous or are more often portrayed as so. We use the term bewitched to refer to the power of a woman over a man.

Real World Mythic Power

Again I have to come back to the point that it is unlikely we can rationally define the reason women are so controlled. We often make superficial analyses but my suspicion is that the root of the issue is the power of sex and sex is certainly powerful because it is related to reproduction and the continuity of our species. And this power takes on mythic proportions.

The reason for even discussing this issue is that we all suffer from this kind of discrimination and virtual imprisonment. It is clear that freeing women and empowering them is having remarkable benefits for everyone. If we detach ourselves from the prejudice and discrimination, then we can all benefit. Need I say it is also only fair but also need to stress the diversity and complexity of the issues.

What alternative explanations do you have?

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

Finding Benefits in Our Lives

How would you assess your benefits?

 

So much of the time we deal with problems and fraught issues. I thought this time I would share something about my life which relates to the issue of women that has been a focus. My position on the empowerment of women is clear. I am delighted with what I see happening. When I turn on the news channels I see women of all ages taking on effective and essential positions. I won’t spend a lot of time discussing the obvious. At last more and more of the talent of women is being fostered and recognized.

Partnership

And another theme which I feel is essential is that we are not talking about men being replaced in seats of power. There is a much larger issue and that is of equality and partnership. We have so much to offer each other and so many talents to share. And I’ve had the great good fortune of marrying a smart, creative and tenacious woman. I have felt lucky through the entire time from when we were raising our four children, her era as a hippie jeweler and then when she joined me in my practice as a clinical social worker. And now in our later years she has further enhanced our lives with her efforts at our home.

When we arrived at our current home on Maryland’s Eastern Shore we saw a property with potential and that included its settling. The outside was a blank slate and my wife chose it as her canvas.

This is my partner and Shield Maiden

 

 

This was her blank canvas.

The Oasis She Has Created

              

 

And then there’s the vegetable garden.

Yes, we have choices but also good fortune plays a role. This post is dedicated to my wife and Shield Maiden who is my partner in dealing with life as it has been, is and becomes.

(In case you didn’t see the series The Vikings, Shield Maiden refers to the women who fought in battle alongside their men. Her mother was Norwegian.)

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