Thoughts on Mythic Structure: The Meeting with the Mentor


This is Part 3 in my series on mythic structure, or the hero’s journey.

1. Even though this stage of the journey is positioned after The Call to Adventure and The Refusal of the Call, the Meeting with the Mentor can happen at any point in the story.

It is common for the hero to meet their mentor figure at some point during the first act (first third or so of the story) but there is no restriction on when the hero can meet her mentor for the first time. Dorothy doesn’t meet Glinda until after she crosses the first threshold (enters Oz). Arya Stark in Game of Thrones, on the other hand, meets swordmaster Syrio Forel before she crosses her first threshold (escapes King’s Landing in the guise of a boy). Continue reading

WWI in Classic Film — South: Ernest Shackleton’s Glorious Epic of the Antarctic


This post is part of the WORLD WAR ONE IN CLASSIC FILM Blogathon hosted by Movies, Silently and Silent-ology. Click HERE to see posts by other participants.

Ernest Shackleton’s Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, which was supposed to be the first to traverse the continent of Antarctica, is one of the great survival stories of all time. It shares a close anniversary with Great Britain’s declaration of war against Germany at the beginning of World War I. The expedition ship, Endurance, set sail from London on August 1, 1914. War was declared on August 4. After discussing it with his men, Shackleton offered the ship, supplies, and men to the war effort.

He received a telegram from the Admiralty with a one word message: “Proceed.” Continue reading

The 1984 Blogathon – Irreconcilable Differences


This review is a contribution to Todd Liebenow’s 1984 Blogathon at Forgotten Films.

I think I was the last person to join Todd’s 1984 blogathon. 1984 saw a remarkable number of classic/terrific/good films, but they were already snapped up by other bloggers. When I went through the very short list of films that were still available, Irreconcilable Differences immediately jumped out at me. It’s one of those movies where the sum of its parts is far greater than the whole. Some of those parts I truly love. The others–not quite as much. But I still find myself watching it whenever it appears on TV.

Continue reading

The Strong Female Character: I Do Not Think That Means What Some People Think It Means


I recently started watching the new TV series Outlander, based on the popular books by Diana Gabaldon. I have never read the books. The series sounded like something I might enjoy, about a woman who time-travels to 18th Century Scotland.

After watching two episodes, I’m already done with it.

I see people raving about the show on Twitter and other social media. Like Charlie Brown, I don’t know how to argue with success. Something is resonating with many viewers, and I don’t mind that they are enjoying it.

But to me it’s a major disappointment. It made me think of how the term “strong female character” is so often misconstrued. Continue reading

Thoughts on Mythic Structure: The Call to Adventure & Refusal of the Call

harrypotterletter2This is Part 2 in my series on mythic structure, or the hero’s journey. I am combining the next two stages of the hero’s adventure, The Call to Adventure and Refusal of the Call, because they are so closely connected.

1. The call to adventure is issued by the herald archetype. This may be personified in a character i.e. Effie Trinket in The Hunger Games, the Tarleton brothers in Gone with the Wind, the droids in Star Wars: A New Hope. Or a herald can be an item such as the letter from Hogwarts in Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone, the dead body washed up on the beach in Jaws, or the burning bush in The Prince of Egypt. (For more on the herald archetype, please check out my previous article on the subject.) Continue reading

7 Tips For Creating Memorable Characters


Had a mishap in the kitchen this weekend and am nursing a mild burn, so I didn’t get around to writing a blog post. I’m reblogging this oldie. Hope you enjoy!

Originally posted on MOON IN GEMINI:

1. Don’t become over-dependent on character charts. I’ll be honest. I’m not a fan of character charts. I don’t think a lot of the information on them is necessary for creating (or for a writer “getting a grip” on) characters. No one cares how many freckles or moles your character has, or what the character’s favorite flavor of ice cream is, or that the dog they had when they were growing up was a poodle named Muffy, or what job they had when they were 17, unless a detail like that is critical to the story.

The worst thing about character charts is some people fill them out and think they’re done creating their characters.

If you feel that character charts are helpful, by all means, use them. Just realize when you finish one that you’re not done, you’ve only just begun.

2. That said, details are important.  Without…

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The British Invaders Blogathon: The 1960s Royal Costume Dramas


This post is part of the British Invaders Blogathon hosted by Terry Towles Canote at A Shroud of Thoughts. Click HERE for a list of all the entries!

When I was a kid, my mother rarely took me to see children’s movies. Partly because at the time (the late 1960s) there weren’t that many children’s movies made, partly because, well, she just didn’t like sitting through children’s movies.

So I was taken to see grown-up movies from a very young age. My mother has always been interested in history, and loved the royal costume dramas coming out of Great Britain at the time. She imparted this love to me. Continue reading

My Project REUTSway Runner-up Story is Now Live on Their Blog!

projectreutswaylogoLast November I participated in REUTS Publications’ contest Project REUTSway. Each week, writers were given a prompt to use to retell a fairy tale. Each prompt was a supernatural creature (vampires, zombies, demons and werewolves).

Two out of the three stories I submitted were chosen for an anthology, which will be published at a later date.

My third story was a runner-up. Each week since February, REUTS has been featuring one of the runner-up stories on their blog.

Today was my turn! Continue reading

#10Queries Hashtag on Twitter Reveals 10 Common Reasons for Rejection

Rejected letters  (clipping path included)As writers, we sometimes (maybe most of the time) feel as though agents and editors are our natural enemies, rejecting work unfairly. They live to keep the truly talented from succeeding, the thinking goes.

That’s because most of us have never had to deal with the slush piles at publishing houses and literary agencies.

On Twitter, several literary agents tweet with the #10queries hashtag (other variations are #10queriesin10tweets and #tenqueries). This is a fantastic insight into what agents see cross their desks from the slush pile. You can either periodically check out the hashtag(s) or follow agents who do this on a regular basis.

I currently follow Margaret Bail (@MKDB) at Inklings Literary Agency, Whitley Abell (@whitleyabell, also at Inklings), Eric W. Ruben, Esq. (@EricRubenLawyer) who is, obviously, a lawyer but also a literary agent. Sara Megibow (@SaraMegibow) of Nelson Literary Agency used to do #10queriesin10tweets on a regular basis; she does it only occasionally now. (Follow her anyway, she still shares great advice about submitting to agents.)

Here are a few striking things you can’t help but notice when you check out the hashtag: Continue reading

Thoughts on Mythic Structure: The Ordinary World


Now that I’ve finished my series about archetypes, I am beginning a new one about mythic structure.

Mythic structure is also known as “monomyth” and even more commonly as the hero’s journey. Mythologist Joseph Campbell described monomyth in his book The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Film development executive Chris Vogler adapted and simplified many of Campbell’s ideas in his book The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers. (I also like how Vogler modernized Campbell’s stages of the hero’s journey, making them less gender-specific.)

As with archetypes, there is some controversy over mythic structure, with the main complaint being that it results in clichéd and rote storytelling. But, as with archetypes, that only happens if you resort to clichéd and rote storytelling. Structure is a very important aspect of writing, whether it’s a novel or a screenplay. It’s necessary but also endlessly variable, which I hope to demonstrate in these articles about each stage of the hero’s journey. Continue reading

What The 2014 Emmy Nominations Got Wrong–and Right


The Emmy nominations were announced this week. Some of my favorite shows got a boatload of nominations (Game of Thrones, Orange is the New Black, American Horror Story: Coven, to name a few.) So how come my main reaction was something like this:


As I mentioned in my Pop Culture Awards post from last year, it must be rough to be an Emmy nomination judge, especially in the drama categories. There are so many quality dramas now, with so many quality actors giving amazing performances, it’s not at all odd that a lot of people get left out.

There were also surprises, many of them fabulous, but some of the snubs were mind-boggling.

Continue reading

7 Things I Learned From 2 Years of Blogging

Letter blogOfficially, I created this blog on July 1, 2012. I didn’t post anything until July 8. So I consider this entire week my blogversary.

It’s hard to believe it’s already two years since I started this blog. Some great things happened this past year. I have two stories that will be published in an anthology by Reuts Publications. For the first time, one of my posts was Freshly Pressed (featured by WordPress). Writing this blog has been mostly great, but sometimes it’s also a frustrating ride.

Here are a few things I learned about blogging the past two years: Continue reading

Game of Thrones Season 4 Review: The Great, the Good, the Meh & the Ugly



I read a review before Season 4 of Game of Thrones started that claimed this was the show’s “imperial phase.” What the critic meant was that every TV show has a season where all the elements come together almost perfectly, resulting in its strongest season.

I have to disagree with this reviewer. While in some ways this was a fantastic season, it was far from perfect. Overall, the sum of its parts was greater than the whole. The great and good stuff were pretty darn amazing. But the not-so-great stuff was deeply disappointing. Continue reading