Life in progress


Character-Driven vs Plot-Driven Stories

There are many writers out there who craft their stories based on a “what if” situation. They will come up with a scenario, such as “what if a meteor hit the earth?” or “what if a guy goes to the store and finds all the cars in the parking lot stacked on top of each other?”

These two scenarios may sound very similar, but they’re not. Yes, both start with the same three words, but the difference is this: the first revolves around a plot. The plot has yet to be populated by humans (assuming there are humans left alive after the meteor hit). The second scenario already has a human in it. Here may be the difference between a plot-driven story and a character-driven one.

For me, populating a story that contains a story first (aforementioned meteor crashing down) is near impossible. I can’t wrap my head around a crowd of people who have been plunked down in the middle of a situation. But give me a person to work with first, and I’m off and running. What any ONE person would do in a strange situation is fairly unique to that one person. That, to me, gives a story its excitement and its hook, if you will.

This whole topic came about when I started to think about how difficult it is for me to write a short story. Given a plot, I may be able to bang out a few words. But when I get my head wrapped around a character I find it hard to let go after just a few hundred words. I get attached to my characters very easily, and once I have them in my head I don’t just want to tell a bit of their story, I want to tell it all. Before I know it, I’m well on my way into a novel.

When I first began writing, I belonged to a Yahoo group in which a bunch of writers developed characters who not only interacted with one another, they told each other stories of their lives before they met one another. Quite like anyone would in real life. So I’m thinking about writing a character on my fiction blog rather than attempting and consistently failing to write short stories. Just a thought at the moment.

The character-driven story is a subject very dear to my heart. My characters become almost like  family to me, much as the characters do in some of the novels I read. Especially the ones I’m sad to put down when they’re finished.

I’d like to hear from the writers out there – do you write character-driven or plot-driven stories? Have you ever ventured out of your comfort zone and tried the other one?

And from the readers – have you ever become attached to a character that was so well written, you never wanted their story to end?


A Day at the Opera

My trip to Ottawa to go backstage at the National Arts Centre was amazing! I managed to talk to a few of the staff members, including stage managers, prop builders, and lighting staff, I ate lunch in the green room, and took loads of photos.

Photo from one of the box seats

Photo from one of the box seats

There are four stages there; the seating for the largest is above.

View from the back of the stage

View from the back of the stage

I found out some handy tidbits of info. It is indeed possible to get horses on stage (in my novel, my character uses horses in his magic act). I was told they’ve had an elephant on this stage.

The stage will also hold a thirty foot ladder

The stage will also hold a thirty foot ladder

My novel also has a ladder as a prop. I discovered yesterday how tall it can be – and also how they would set it up so it won’t fall.


The backstage corridors are like a maze. I got lost.

The ladies chorus dressing room

The ladies chorus dressing room

Getting ready to go onstage

Getting ready to go onstage

(No, that’s not me.)


I had to find out what this was!

Apparently, a vomitory in a theatre isn’t somewhere you go to upchuck your lunch. It’s a quick exit from the stage. I learned something new!

I actually learned a lot of things–details–I will use in my novel. Even if the whole ten hour trip results in the fact that I know how to get a large animal on stage, that I know how many rungs my magician’s assistant will have to climb and whether they enter and exit stage left or right–and all this results in a couple of sentences or a paragraph–I will have accurate details! An essential part of any novel worth its weight, in my estimation.

Exit stage right

Exit stage right


About My Fiction Blog

I’ve been trying to find ways to get more people to follow my fiction blog. I realize that fiction doesn’t tend to be as popular as real life sorts of sites, like this one; I think that’s partly because fiction is more subjective. If the first piece someone reads isn’t quite their cup of tea, they’re more likely to skip the whole thing. Which is, not so oddly enough, why it’s so important to have a great ‘hook’ at the beginning of a story.

But I digress.

In an attempt to get more bloggers to go to my fiction blog–to see that it exists–I’ve decided to make it my primary blog for a week. What this means is, if you click on my name, say, in the comment section of a post, the link will take you to “Inspiration in Progress” instead of here: “Life in Progress.”

I’m telling you this because if it annoys you, my regular followers, I’ll change it back. But I need you to let me know. The place to do it is in the comment section below.

I’ll make the change Monday morning, since I won’t be around for most of today.

Have a lovely Sunday, everyone!


10 Random Whys

1. Why are people surprised when they get a groan instead of a laugh at the end of a joke? It’s called a PUNCHline after all.

2. Why can’t I kiss my own elbow?

3. Why are there so many fruit flies in the world when there’s nothing to eat them?

4. Why do the things that are so bad for us, taste so good?

5. Why must our faculties go to pot as we get older?

6. Why does a bottle of water cost more than the same amount of gasoline?

7. Why can’t we just all get along?

8. Why do we call flies flies, and yet there’s not a bug called a “walk”?

9. Why do men have such a hard time asking for directions?

10. Why are there not more hours in a day when we need them?


One point for every question you answer. Bonus points if you can come up with another “why” question for me to answer.

Aaand GO!


The Friday Reminder and Prompt for SoCS September 27/14

Hi there! Here we are once again on the fifth or sixth day of the week (depending on when your calendar starts your week) which is, of course Friday. And that means it’s time once again for the Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday. When I started writing this I had a completely different idea for your prompt, but my second sentence up there has me thinking – what if we make this the prompt?

Your Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is: Use an ordinal number, i.e. first, second, third and so on.

After you’ve written your Saturday post tomorrow, please link it here at the prompt page in the comments so others can find it and see your awesome Stream of Consciousness post. Anyone can join in!

Try out our new, handy dandy SoCS badge. Paste it in your Saturday post so people browsing the reader will immediately know your post is stream of consciousness and/or pin it as a widget to your site to show you’re a participant. Wear it with pride!!


Badge by: Doobster @ Mindful Digressions

Here are the rules:

1. Your post must be stream of consciousness writing, meaning no editing, (typos can be fixed) and minimal planning on what you’re going to write.

2. Your post can be as long or as short as you want it to be. One sentence – one thousand words. Fact, fiction, poetry – it doesn’t matter. Just let the words carry you along until you’re ready to stop.

3. There will be a prompt every week. I will post the prompt here on my blog on Friday, along with a reminder for you to join in. The prompt will be one random thing, but it will not be a subject. For instance, I will not say “Write about dogs”; the prompt will be more like, “Make your first sentence a question,” or “Begin with the word ‘The’.”

4. Ping back! It’s important, so that I and other people can come and read your post! For example, in your post you can write “This post is part of SoCS:” and then copy and paste the URL found in your address bar at the top of this post into yours.  Your link will show up in my comments, for everyone to see. The most recent pingbacks will be found at the top.

5. Read at least one other person’s blog who has linked back their post. Even better, read everyone’s! If you’re the first person to link back, you can check back later, or go to the previous week, by following my category, “Stream of Consciousness Saturday,” which you’ll find right below the “Like” button on my post.

6. Copy and paste the rules (if you’d like to) in your post. The more people who join in, the more new bloggers you’ll meet and the bigger your community will get!

7. Have fun!


Update on a Weirdish Week

First, I’d like to say hi and welcome to my new followers. I appreciate your interest in my blog, and I promise to come and visit all of yours the moment I have a chance. I’ll put a few pertinent links in this post so you can keep up with the rest of the class. Here we go.

I have no clue why I posted not one, but TWO one-liners today. Okay, I do have an idea – WordPress wouldn’t let me not schedule the one I had scheduled, and when I tried to change it to next week I must have messed up. If you haven’t read them both, you probably should. Each have links to other people’s one-liners. There are some great ones this week!

Then this afternoon I was contemplating life and dreams and things when I came up with a great concept for a new novel! Only I’m not going to have time to write it. Editing is slow-going these days, even though I’ve been working on it every spare minute I have to sit quietly. Only 50 pages to go out of 524. 😀

I’m still searching for the perfect sleeping companion. I’ve tried a few but none have worked out. I can tell you, it’s frustrating having a different one every night of the week and never finding the satisfaction I was hoping for!

My doctor’s appointment went… okay. She’s going to get the records from my old doctor’s office to see what my x-ray and ultrasound from last May said about my right shoulder, but she doesn’t want to give me any exercises to do until she knows. The last idiot doctor said, “Just stretch.” He also said it was arthritis, but the symptoms don’t fit. So I have to wait for another month before I get any results.

On top of that now, I had a hellish weekend with Alex and had to move all the furniture except his bed out of his room, by myself, because he was smashing it and putting dents in the walls. Mostly, I didn’t want him to hurt himself. So what happened? I hurt the other shoulder.

BUT, I had this weekend to look forward to. The kids were going to go to their dad’s… but wait! He’s sick and so are the rest of his family! So no break. He offered to take them anyway, but with the new super-bug that’s going around, I don’t need to take the chance that Alex will end up in hospital like when he had H1N1… or when he had pneumonia… or RSV… or bronchiolitis… or… you get the picture. I did however manage to wrangle some hours out of my eldest son for Sunday so I can do the backstage tour of the National Arts Centre in Ottawa. I’ll take pictures!

And speaking of pictures, it was Alex’s picture day at school on Monday. He looked so dapper I couldn’t wait for the official photos. This was taken before school.


He came home, however, with his shirt untucked and done up one button off, and the knot on his tie reaching his breastbone looking much like a drunken businessman.

Kids. 🙄

So that’s been my week. How ’bout yours?


One-Liner Wednesday – Self-Consciousness

There’s nothing more angst-inducing than meeting an old friend after 30 years when you’ve gained x number of pounds…and aged 30 years.


Anyone who would like to try it out, feel free to use the “One-Liner Wednesday” title in your post, and if you do, you can ping back here to help your blog get more exposure. As with Stream of Consciousness Saturday, if you see a ping back from someone else in my comment section, click and have a read. It’s bound to be short and sweet.

The rules that I’ve made for myself (but don’t always follow) for “One-Liner Wednesday” are as follows:

1. Make it one sentence.

2. Make it either funny or inspirational.

Have fun!


One-Liner Wednesday – NaNo?

Answer to the question, “What am I going to do in November?”:
“Well, you could grow a moustache, but writing a book might be easier.”

Thanks, John.


Anyone who would like to try it out, feel free to use the “One-Liner Wednesday” title in your post, and if you do, you can ping back here to help your blog get more exposure. As with Stream of Consciousness Saturday, if you see a ping back from someone else in my comment section, click and have a read. It’s bound to be short and sweet.

The rules that I’ve made for myself (but don’t always follow) for “One-Liner Wednesday” are as follows:

1. Make it one sentence.

2. Make it either funny or inspirational.

Have fun!


WordPress’s Own Welcoming Committee – HarsH ReaLiTy

When I started blogging I had no idea what I was doing. I roamed around WordPress marveling at all the people who seemed to have something to talk about. I knew I had words inside me that I wanted to get out – but how to start was the biggest question, followed closely by, how do I get anyone to read what I’ve written?

So I began, rather lamely I might add. A few people followed me, most of whom when I looked at their sites were simply trying to sell something.

I read up on a few hints from WordPress themselves; things like click on people’s avatars and follow them, or comment on other people’s blogs. It didn’t get me too far, but it was a start. Then one day, someone who called himself “Opinionated Man” followed me. I made one of my bolder attempts at commenting on his site, particularly frightening as that was since he had something like 1,000 followers. 1,000! Just imagine! I didn’t for a second expect a blogger with stats like that to reply to my comment.

But he did.

Following his blog, and his lead, I began gaining confidence in myself as a blogger. I found out it was okay to be at the top of the commenter’s list on my own stats page. (Silly me thought that was a faux pas – an egotistical nightmare if there ever was one.) But most of all, I discovered through HarsH ReaLiTy that there was such a thing as the WordPress community.

Now Jason, author of the blog HarsH ReaLiTy, follows as many new bloggers as he can. The ones who take heart from what may be their first follow and click on his site may at first be a little overwhelmed. But the ones who take their time and read what he has to say rather than judge him at first glance for his numbers and his moniker, are indeed lucky to have found him.

I’ve come to think of Jason as the one-man welcoming committee for WordPress. While his motives may not be readily apparent, there is nothing on his site that cannot be learned from, whether it’s how to get fifty comments out of a single sentence, or how to go about expressing your own opinion no matter how badly received it might be. Any one of us can follow his example and succeed. Which is not to mention the advice he gladly dispenses in the articles he’s worked hard to compile for us, his followers.

I honestly can’t imagine a WordPress without HarsH ReaLiTy. Thank you, Jason, on behalf of myself and all the people you have shown the way. You’ve built something truly great, and upheld it with grace, a well-toned funny bone and a set of opinions that are undeniably all yours. Thank goodness one of them is that it is gratifying to help others discover what you enjoy – blogging.

Find Jason by clicking here. Enjoy!


A Rant

I am officially ashamed of my job. The organization that prints and distributes the local newspaper that I deliver–that people pay good money for–needs to take a good, close look at itself and its practices. It’s no wonder subscriptions are on the decline. I’ve gone from having twenty-three customers to thirteen in the three years I’ve been doing the job.

Today, however, takes the proverbial cake.

The article in question (no, I won’t cite it for the following reasons:  a) I don’t want to advertise publicly where I live; b) the article is conspicuously absent from their website anyway; and c) I still work for them. For now.) is about a recent awareness-raising campaign entitled “Slut Walk.”

The annual Slut Walk, if you haven’t heard about it, is a tool to teach people (men mostly) that dressing like a slut isn’t an invitation for sexual assault. This, in and of itself, is a reasonable lesson to learn. You can read more about it here: if you’re interested.

But it’s not the Walk itself that I have a problem with – it’s the article.

Apart from numerous grammatical errors, (“you’re” instead of “your”? Come on!) which point blatantly at the fact that if an editor even read through the article he needs to be fired clean out of the editorial cannon, there are the questionable quotes from the event’s organizer, in which she states that the word ‘slut’ need not be a bad word, and that, “It just describes someone that is sexually promiscuous, someone who is maybe for work or for personal reasons and that is not a bad thing.”

Then she goes on to say people are complaining that the Walk isn’t child-friendly, but that, “…there is not a whole lot of scantily clad people…” this directly below a picture of a woman with the middle of her t-shirt cut out, revealing her bare breasts (and no, it’s not edited) and then, “…I think there is only one sign with profanity…there is nothing here that you wouldn’t see on TV or hear on the radio.”

Where is anything child-friendly about this scenario? On one hand you have a legitimate message – clothes don’t invite rape – and then on the other hand you have a newspaper quoting an organizer saying it’s okay for girls to be sexually promiscuous for work or personal reasons or whatever. Not only that, she’s blind!

And so is the editor of my damned paper!!!

Aside from finding a way to get a note to the author of the article to ask him if he grammars much, I’ve a good mind to write a letter to the editor.

I just don’t know where to start.