What Rogue One can teach about writing and resolutions


What Rogue One can teach about #writing and #resolutions
background image courtesy of www.Flickr.com

I’m not entirely sure how it happened, especially as I’ve been held hostage this week, or as my children call it, celebrating winter break, but the hubby and I actually managed to sneak out long enough to watch Rogue One.

Yeah, I am as stunned as you.

And it was awesome. But I’m not here to divulge spoilers. Nor am I here to write a tribute to Carrie Fisher, as deserved as that might be. No I want to talk about what Rogue One can teach us about story telling and life in general.

Work toward an ending

The premise of Rogue One was simple. It exists to answer the question as to how the rebels got the plans to the Death Star in the first place, a catalyst event that sets off all the events of the next three movies in the original franchise. The ending of their story was clear, the beginning – not so much, forcing the screenwriters to work backwards. And it was a effective technique. It worked so well, I found myself surprised as well as satisfied by the ending, even though I knew full well what it would be before I purchased my ticket.

This same concept can be applied to planning any goal, not just writing.

I’m not a huge fan of New Year’s Resolutions. To me, they are far too easy to make and therefore far too easy to break. So I don’t set New Year’s Resolutions. Instead I set one to three wildly optimistic End of Year Goals.

Then I work backwards, setting smaller monthly and weekly goals for myself, all in support of the larger ones. So that at year’s end I am not disappointed by how many resolutions I have broken, but instead motivated by how much more I have accomplished.

It is okay not to have an answer for everything

There are certain questions Rogue One doesn’t answer, such as what was the rift between factions the Rebel Alliance wants to mend so desperately or who keeps awarding the Imperial console button contracts to the most lost cost industrial switch manufacturer the galaxy has ever seen when they obviously utilize high-end contracts for sleek exterior ship design. There could be spin-off on spin-offs of stories if the writers choose to answer everything, but in this case I think it is a better experience to let the viewer’s or reader’s imaginations fill in the blanks. A few loose ends can keep a story interesting.

Likewise, even with my goals, I’ve accepted there are certain areas of my life, both personally and professionally, I don’t have mapped out, at least not for this year. That’s okay. A little bit of unknown now just means I have choices to explore later, or goals still out there to achieve.

Rebellions are built on hope

This is a line used a few times in the movie, a somewhat tongue in cheek reference to the title of the next movie in line in the series, A New Hope. But it is also true. In order for any well written story to progress, a character must first believe that change is possible. They have to believe deep in their core that they can evade a vastly superior military force, complete a foolhardy mission, or otherwise avenge a loved one. Otherwise what is the point of leaving home in the first place.

The past year will not go down as a personal favorite of mine for a number of reasons. But that is no reason enough for me to believe the coming year will be more of the same. I will instead continue to focus on what I can change, whether that change be big or small, rather than what is out of my control. I may not achieve all my big goals this year, but no matter the outcome, I will be closer tomorrow than I am today for trying. Because I am one with the force, the force is with me.

May you all have an equally happy and force-full New Year

Good tidings to you

There are good weekends and then there are gooooooooooood weekends.

Last week, my sister (I’ll call her Lucinda, which is a nice enough name, or Lucy for short) announced out of the blue that my boys were invited to spend the night on Friday. Lucy said the invitation was because my niece (Xena sounds right) was going off on an adventure, but my nephew, Casimir (sure, why not) was not, and she wanted Casimir to get to do something special too.

I had their bag’s packed before breakfast.

Merry Christmas from the Death Star
Merry Christmas from the Death Star (image courtesy of Flickr)

Suddenly Lamont and I found ourselves curfew-less on the night of the Star Wars premiere. It was just too bad that the shows were sold out. Or so I thought. While discussing my little bit of unexpected good fortune at work, a co-worker mentioned that I should, at least, look into a theater a little further from home than I usually go to. Tickets offered there were slightly more expensive than closer theaters, but you are able to select your seat in advance. I logged in. And lo, what to my wondering eyes did appear, but two unclaimed seats for the much-hyped premiere.

I called Lamont. Lamont is not really a Star Wars fan (I guess, no one is perfect), but knowing that we wouldn’t be forced to sit in the front row and knowing how much I wanted to go he chose not to fight an unwinnable fight agreed to go with me (he’s a good man). Click. Click. The tickets were mine ours.

For those of you who did not stumble upon your own golden tickets, rest assured, I am not offering any spoilers. The Star Wars portion of my story ends here.

Books are like an author’s children. I’ve been promoting the second for awhile now, but every so often I feel compelled to do something special for the first. I’d experienced an unexpected gift, so I decided to pay it forward. I offered my first novel, An Uncertain Faith, for free Saturday and Sunday – no strings attached. It was my way of playing Secret Santa.

I expected 25-50 downloads. And that, I thought, was a generous estimate. I hadn’t had time to advertise and with many of my blogging friends going offline for the rest of the year, who was left to help me promote it? Therefore, I practically spit out my coffee Saturday morning when I saw I’d already reached 30 downloads before 9 am.

I picked the boys up from Lucy’s. We discussed exactly why sneaking out of bed and dumping cups of water on the floor for no apparent reason at all wasn’t just a rule for our house (please Lucy, invite them back. They’ll be good. They promise!). I drank more coffee. I went to the gym and to the grocery store. I spent an hour hunting down the elusive graham cracker beast (is it considered cookie, cracker, or baking supply?) along with other Christmas dinner related supplies. It was a regular day. I checked my report again. And then it wasn’t. At some point, I’d shot well past 50 downloads and well past 100 too. My brain, heart, and lungs stopped functioning (luckily not all at once).

I was, if only for a fleeting moment, ranked #1.

Best Seller

Okay, so if you want to be picky, I was number one for free e-book downloads in the category of women’s literature that also happens feature mystery and female sleuths, but I also cracked the top 100 for free e-books overall and even made it to #1 in a similar category in the UK. But that’s beside the point. As of this weekend, I am (or at least I was) an internationally bestselling author (sort of).

I can only assume that my Robotic Overlords have chosen to reward my declaration of fealty with higher placement in the search algorithm (all hail). Either that or I just experienced the writer’s version of a Christmas miracle. In either event, I can only now wish good tidings to you and all of your friends as I try to think of a way to pay this particular gift forward in 2016.