header('Cache-Control: max-age=259200'); Relationships Archives – Kristen Koster
May 252012

This week for our How I Write series, my accountability group asked, “How do you develop your characters? Do you have a favourite kind/archetype?”

We covered part of the idea of character development before and my general method is in the post, Building Characters where I likened it to my daughter’s cosplay outfits. I skimmed the highlights, but that post has more info.

Michael Hauge‘s Establishing Connections – likeability, skill.expertise, sympathetic, funny, jeopardy
Strengths/Weaknesses —
At Least 5 Whys —
Biggest Fear & how you will make them face it
Jodi Henley‘s idea of a Core Event

Tics, expressions, rituals, habits
Friends, possessions & pets

That all still holds true. Now, moving on to the section where I listed What I didn’t use.

Character Sheets — You’ve seen the ones: star sign, height, weight, occupation, model of car driven, all full of useless trivia that probably won’t make a difference in how your character will react to the things you need them to. Oh, and I always read them with much amusement considering I write historical fiction. I don’t think I’d find them very useful even if I wrote contemporaries.

Stereotypes/Archetypes — Ok, I TRY not to use stereotypes and I was re-introduced to the notion of using archetypes again this summer, but I’m not sure that I’ll ever dig too deeply in that direction as something to build a foundation on. Some people may find them useful, but I also think the temptation to slide back into stereotype is too strong for me.

Character sheets filled with useless trivia are still a no go for me. Most of it just isn’t relevant for the historical setting and I don’t feel like making one. I have been using Scrivener, which has character templates that are more flexible and include general information.

Role in Story: Hero
Occupation: Card Sharp
Physical Description:
Personality: Jack is a bad boy, appearing unreliable and capricious at first impression.
Background: Jack is a card sharp with the longest running winning streak at the game of Whist at the Stratford Club in London. He wants to make a name for himself.
Internal Conflicts: Jack is motivated by resentment and rebellion which keeps him from finding love and keeping it. He’s a bachelor who refuses to marry and keeps being left by his mistresses.
External Conflicts: Jack is driven by the thrill of winning and beating the odds. He wants to win back his brother’s losing for the week and keep his reputation because Amanda’s protector has accused him of cheating and offers a stacked deck.
Notes: Jack is used to playing Whist with his brother as his partner. He’s also distracted by the heroine’s beauty. He may lose his reputation and the girl. Jack realizes he’s always help part of himself back. He puts that on the table with Amanda as well, hoping to win her love.

Photo of a kid catching a frisbee. He's putting everything he's got into it.And in looking back at my stories after taking Tami Cowden’s workshop on archetypes for writers, I realized I do use them as a very rough base for personality and building conflicts, but it hadn’t been a conscious part of my character development process.

I think if I had to name a favorite hero archetype, it’d be the bad boy — or maybe the nice guy who’s been pushed to live up to his bad boy reputation. My heroine’s have also been stronger than they appear or are assumed to be by others, but other than that, they seem to be all over the map in terms of which archetype you’d label them as.

Another thing I’ve realized through photography and pushing my comfort zone there, is character matters so much when photographing people. Capturing it and using it to tell a story was a big part of what I was missing when I took pictures of people. For some reason, this seems easier with people I don’t know. Maybe because I’m freer to make things up? Anyway… this kid with the frisbee has a ton of character, doesn’t he?

YOUR TURN:How do you go about building the foundation of your creative projects?

And if you’d like to read about how the rest of my accountability group answered, you can find their blogs here:

* Alexia Reed * Kimberly Farris *
* Angeleque Ford * Danie Ford * Emma G. Delaney

Teaching Moments

 The Writer  Comments Off on Teaching Moments
Apr 272012

Teaching Moments: Photo of the sun breaking through the clouds.This week for our How I Write series, my accountability group was asked about teaching moments: “What have you recently learned from a REAL LIFE event/happening that you can apply to your writing/writing career?”

Have you ever felt like the universe is trying to tell you something?

It’s been shouting at me lately.

When the same phrases and themes keep coming at you, eventually one is going to stick. First it was, “If you never ask, the answer will always be ‘no’.” And then there was all the advise on pushing boundaries one step at a time.

Lately it’s been all about soul searching, knowing yourself, digging deeper, how your experiences mold you and using those deep core experiences and decisions to improve your writing. Now, Jodi Henley‘s been talking about core events for a while. I listened. I really did. However, I didn’t have the right mindset at the time to learn as much as I needed. Jo Leigh came to my local RWASD chapter meeting this past month and talked about “Core Decisions” — it wasn’t the most comfortable meeting for an introvert who doesn’t like discussing what makes her tick. But man, did it make the brain work overtime. Lots of ‘Aha!’ moments when thinking about what my stories have been about and why the heroines act and react the way they do.

I’ve recently had a few people look at my work and while they agree that while I can string a sentence together, something’s missing. Now, none of them came out and said this precisely, and I may be putting words in their mouths, but what I feel is missing is the ‘heart’. The emotional side of things. How does it really feel to be in these characters heads and why should we care about them.

I’ve learned a lot about the theory of why Emotional Structure works, why connections are drawn between authors and readers. But most importantly, I’ve learned that I cannot avoid what makes me “me”, not if I want to find my voice and connect with readers to bring my characters truly alive and make their stories matter.

The trick now will be opening up those veins and allowing it to bleed out onto the page. I need to abandon the theory, no I need to TRUST it, and put it into action.

YOUR TURN:What have you learned recently that it suddenly seemed like you were ready to learn?

And if you’d like to read about how the rest of my accountability group answered, you can find their blogs here:

* Alexia Reed * Kimberly Farris *
* Angeleque Ford * Danie Ford * Emma G. Delaney

Apr 132012
Photo of an old foundation at Harper's Ferry, WVa.

I like lots of layers for a strong foundation.

This week for our How I Write series, my accountability group asked, “Share at least 3 things you like or admire about each of your main characters. Share at least 3 things you like about your story.”

I’m going to focus on my reluctant duke’s story, Beneath His Touch.

Main Characters

  1. James never expected to be the Duke, but he’s trying, for the sake of his family to do things correctly. He can admit he’s not prepared for the role and needs help. Just how much help, I don’t think he’s quite realized. He also has a quiet sense of humor about him that I just love.
  2. Tabitha is trying to save her brother from himself. She’s always been there to clean up his messes and she worries she will always be there, because at this rate, he’s never going to marry and will need someone to take care of him. In many ways, she’s fearless. She’s not afraid to ask for what she wants or needs, even though she may think she’s nervous about doing so at the time. She’s already decided what steps need to be taken and does them.
  3. Ambrose was a fun character to write. He’s over the top in so many ways, but I think we’ve all known someone similar. Rude, crude and totally wrapped up in themselves.

About the Story

  1. Lots of layers.This is one of the things I both love and hate about this story. There’s so much going on, I have trouble juggling it all. However, this is exactly the kind of story I love to read.
  2. Focus on partnerships. Neither the hero nor the heroine can function at their best on their own. They need the skills, perspective, and experience of the other in order to achieve the best possible outcomes. They balance one another in so many ways. Again, the kind of story I like to read. The hero might come across at first as an arrogant jerk, but as we get to know him better along with the heroine, we know that’s not the real man.
  3. First impressions aren’t everything. Both the hero and the heroine misread each other when they first meet, providing a large source of the tension between them. Getting past these first impressions isn’t the only conflict, but it’s one of the things I like about the story.

YOUR TURN: What are the three things you like best about your current creative endeavor?

And if you’d like to read about how the rest of my accountability group answered, you can find their blogs here:

* Alexia Reed * Kimberly Farris *
* Angeleque Ford * Danie Ford * Emma G. Delaney

A Regency Round-Up on Valentine’s Day

 Regency Resource  Comments Off on A Regency Round-Up on Valentine’s Day
Feb 142012

Regency Valentine: Oldest mailed Valentine's card from 1790, now at British Postal Museum.

This handmade puzzle card is from 1790, now kept at the British Postal Museum, is not for sale. Text on face of the card reads:
“My dear the Heart which you behold,
Will break when you the same unfold,
Even so my heart with lovesick pain,
Sure wounded is and breaks in twain.”

There isn’t a lot of information available regarding how Valentine’s Day was celebrated in the early 19th Century. Most Regency Valentine’s cards (mostly handmade love letters) were considered ephemera and not held onto except in rare circumstances. You’ll notice I didn’t title this post as a primer, because I didn’t feel I could speak on the topic with much authority. I could have gone with the language of flowers for today’s topic, but many others have done that as well, and I didn’t feel it was limited to Valentine’s Day as it is now.

The commercialization of Valentine’s Day, as well as Christmas, can be laid at the feet of the Victorians. Industrialization was in full-swing and mass production of cards and trinkets was easier and cheaper than ever before. The Regency swains would have had to be much more resourceful, personal and creative to present their sweethearts with something memorable. Lucky, ladies! However, in the early 19th century, it wasn’t just the upper class that was sending notes and tokens of love and affection to their sweethearts, but something that was done across all classes.

Regency Valentine: Oldest printed Valentine's Day Card from 1797.

The oldest “printed” card was published in January 1797 by John Fairburn of 146, Minories, London. The text around the edge reads:
"Since on this ever Happy day,
All Nature’s full of Love and Play
Yet harmless still if my design,
‘Tis but to be your Valentine."

Instead of distilling many similar posts down today, I’m going to link you directly to the sources I would have used in penning today’s primer.

Ruth Axtell’s Reflections on Valentine’s Day at the Christian Regency blog

Bronwen Evans’ A Regency Valentine’s Day on her blog

Elaine Golden’s Getting Ready for Valentine’s Day? post at GoodReads

Amanda McCabe/Laurel McKee’s Valentine’s Day! post at Risky Regencies

Loretta Chases’ Valentine’s Day in the early 19th century at Two Nerdy History Girls

Susan Holloway Scott’s post A Father Warns Against the “Depravity” of Valentines at Two Nerdy History Girls

Wishing you a happy Valentine’s Day!

Jan 202012

Last week in my acountability group’s HOW I WRITE series, we posted our take on writing advice and mine in particular struck a chord with readers. This week’s topic is “Name up to 5 unexpected finds/treats/treasures this weeks. Things that caught your attention that you may not have noticed normally.”

It could be a book we’ve read, a movie, joke, funny story, a quote, a commercial, a t.v., a compliment, etc – basically anything that happened this week that was out of the ordinary that made us stop and take notice and/or smile.”


1. How my kids still get out of the car at school and say “I love you” even in front of other students

This isn’t an unusual occurrence, but it did make me smile to actually notice it this week.

2. The strong smell of guavas that have ripened after they were brought to us to try

I’ve never had guavas before. Did you know they’re called “guayaba” in Spanish? I didn’t. They smell wonderful and we need to eat them soon before it’s too late.

3. How when it’s cold enough the hedges and mailboxes will “steam” when the sun hits them

Photo of the water vapor rising from a hedge in the morning light.Similar to how a pond will steam, but weirder. I dunno, I don’t recall noticing this when I was younger. It’s definitely from thinking “What am I going to take a picture of today?!” I’ve noticed that I get a lot of compliments on my photos (*whispers* you know I only pick the best ones, right?) but it’s not something I’ve been working hard at. It’s all intuitive. I’ve got to do some thinking on why it works for me with photography, but not writing, but I suspect it has to do with 3 factors: practice, internalizing some rules and quantity of output. I’ve thrown away far more pictures than I’ve written pages.

4. The way my friend answered the phone when she recognized my number”

I could hear the smile in her voice when I called to check up on her. She’s been sick, but brightened to know someone was thinking of her.

5. “Shit the Dowager Countess Says”

It amuses me that the hysterical comments that Dame Maggie Smith’s character on Downton Abbey says has basically turned into a meme. I love the way that character is written and how she’s played. Love her.

YOUR TURN: What have you discovered that tickled your fancy lately?

And if you’d like to read about what caught the attention of the rest of my group this week, you can find their blogs here:

* Alexia Reed * Kimberly Farris*
* Angeleque Ford * Danie Ford * Emma G. Delaney *

Oct 182011
A cariacture of a wife being "sold" in a public, lower-class "divorce" that was not recognized by church or state.

Last week’s post on Regency Marriages & Elopements, outlined the different ways one could get married during the Regency Era. So this week, we’re going to take a closer look at what happens when there wasn’t a Happily Ever After (HEA). The topic of Regency Divorce and Annulments is a much romanticized one in Regency Romances.

The Lower Classes

The satirical engraving on the right depicts the quaint English custom of “wife-selling”, which wasn’t quite what it sounds like, but was more a ritual among the non-genteel classes (who couldn’t possibly obtain a full parliamentary divorce, allowing remarriage, according to the pre-1857 laws), to publicly proclaim a dissolution of marriage (though not generally recognized by the Church and State authorities). Notice how artist arranged the horns of the cattle horns behind the cuckholded husband’s head.

An 1815 newspaper carried this notice:

Regency Divorce: A cariacture of a wife being "sold" in a public, lower-class "divorce" that was not recognized by church or state.

A satirical engraving of the quaint English custom of “wife-selling”. 1820 English caricature, despite French on the sign.

On Friday last [September 15th 1815] the common bell-man gave notice in Staines Market that the wife of —- Issey was then at the King’s Head Inn to be sold, with the consent of her husband, to any person inclined to buy her. There was a very numerous attendance to witness this singular sale, notwithstanding which only three shillings and fourpence were offered for the lot, no one choosing to contend with the bidder, for the fair object, whose merits could only be appreciated by those who knew them. This the purchaser could boast, from a long and intimate acquaintance. This degrading custom seems to be generally received by the lower classes, as of equal obligation with the most serious legal forms.

High Society

So, let’s examine what was involved to dissolve a marriage in a way that would be recognized by the authorities of Church and State.

There are generally two ways to go about dissolving a marriage: annulment (to make it as it if never existed at all) and divorce (a legal separation in every sense of the word: all obligations of the husband toward the wife are removed and vice versa. Divorce was a long, expensive process—and rarely used outside the aristocracy. Only a handful of cases came before Parliament each year as few could afford the cost. Additionally, the woman became a social outcast and so did the man, though not to the same extent.


In many Regency Historical novels, someone frequently threatens to get an annulment. Despite their handiness as a plot device, annulments were difficult to obtain in reality. Marriages must be dissolve through an annulment suit in an ecclesiastical court which is tried by the bishop of the see in which the couple’s parish is located.

Annulments could only be granted in three circumstances, any of which could leave either the man, the woman, or both as social pariahs. Also, any children of an annulled marriage become bastards (who cannot inherit or be declared legitimate at the whim of the peer) and likewise outcasts of society.


The first form of fraud related to identity. Marriages could be annulled for use of fictitious names. This could be blatant or subtle by forgetting to list out the entire name or title. In the interest of preserving the marriage, bishops could decide an inadvertent mistake occurred, correct the registration and refuse the annulment. This was especially true if the name on the register was how the person was commonly known.

Fraud also involved promises in the marriage contract that were unable to be kept. More common in fiction than real life, these cases might included vanishing doweries or promises of housing that’s already been sold. One has to assume that due to the rarity of such breach of contract cases, the scandal involved with those that were brought was immense. In even rarer cases, fraud could also be charged if the officiating clergyman allowed irregularities (such as an non-consenting bride).


One is incompetent under law and cannot be held to a contract if the person is underage or insane.

Contracts were null and void if either party had not reached their 21st birthday and did not have their father or guardian’s consent. Many fathers were forced to accept the marriage of underage brides who eloped because otherwise her reputation would prevent anyone else from marrying her and taking her off his hands.

Once proven legally insane, the person is locked away for life and loses control of all possessions. Titles could not be stripped and given away, but guardian were appointed to handle their affairs. Women declared insane became nonentities, locked away and forgotten. Few families brought an annulment suit claiming insanity, as it would taint the entire family. A charge of insanity against a husband was social suicide for a woman as her reputation would be ruined when the marriage ended. The few cases tried on these grounds were brought by men wanting to discard unwanted wives or by family members seeking to control the man’s assets.


Non-consummation was NOT grounds for annulment as is conveniently if erroneously used in many novels. The proof is burdensome and difficult to acquire at best and leaves the man an outcast. To prove impotence, the man must share his wife’s bed exclusively for three years, then prove she remains virgin. He must also be proven to be unable to reach an erection with anyone, such as the two accomplished courtesans employed by the court. Only then, would impotence be ruled.


Divorce and legal separation were rare occurrences and a divorce was not granted to a wife until after the Regency Era. Only 276 divorces occurred between 1765 and 1857. Between the passage of the first British divorce bill in 1697 and 1857, only four divorces were granted to women, the first in 1801.

Canon law allowed for separation, called the divortium a mensa et thoro (separation from bed and board), in cases of lethal cruelty and adultery on the part of the husband, or adultery committed by the wife. A divortium a mensa et thoro allowed the husband and wife to reside apart, marked the end of the husband’s financial responsibility for his wife and prevented both parties from remarrying.

3 Steps of the Divorce Procedure

First, the husband brought a suit against his wife’s lover in a civil trial, called a criminal conversation or a CrimCon trial. The offense of criminal conversation was a euphemism for adultery and since a wife was considered the property of her husband, it was tried as a form of trespass or property damage. Successful CrimCon suits found the wife’s lover guilty and carried a hefty fine for alienation of affection. The wife could neither attend nor testify as she was not considered a principal in these cases, despite her reputation being the central issue, because a wife had no legal identity separate from her husband.

After obtaining the CrimCon conviction, the husband then charged his wife with adultery and requested a legal separation (divortium a mensa et thoro) to sever all responsibility for his former wife. The bishop of the see in which the couple had been married, presided over this second ecclesiastical trial, the divorce trial itself.

Unless Parliament passed a Private Act (or Bill) of Divorcement granting permission, a divorced man could not remarry. The third hearing on this bill was as extensive as the other trials and concerned the reversion of the settlements made at the time of the marriage. Passage of such bills resulted in a divorce a vinculo matrimonii, which allowed both parties to remarry unlike the ecclesiastical divortium a mensa et thoro.

This article would have been impossible without Allison Lane’s invaluable collection of Common Regency Errors and The Regency Wrangles Blog’s wealth of information and details of specific cases in its Divorce category of posts.

The Regency Collection has a Calendar of Milestones in women’s rights that starts in 1832 and is fascinating reading when you realize how far we’ve come in 200 years.

Visit my post on Regency Marriages & Elopements or my Regency Resource page for more information regarding a variety of other Regency-themed topics. If you’d like more information on a specific place or topic, please let me know in the comments section below.

May 102009

wedding1Seventeen years ago today, my husband and I tied the knot on an overcast morning beside the Chester River in Chestertown, Maryland where we went to college. This was one week before he graduated, four months before his 21st birthday. We had a surprisingly large turnout of all our friends and family considering it wasn’t just Mother’s Day Weekend, but Mother’s Day itself.

We’ve joked through the years that we gave our mom’s gifts that would keep on giving. For better or for worse, they each got the son or daughter they’d never had. Over the years, they’ve also received a matched set of grandchildren: one girl, one boy. I hope they both recognize the love we have for them even if we’re not always the best at showing or telling them. We’ve only shared the day one other time in 1998 before today. (Calendar dates and weekdays coincide every 5, 6 or 11 years depending on leap years or not.)

momsI was looking through the photo albums of our wedding pictures this morning. I hadn’t remembered the edges of the pages had melted and fused together in many places ten years ago in a house fire. I should do something about that. However, what annoyed me was the realization that the photographer sucked. We have several pictures of this one guy I don’t recognize any more now than when we got the pictures back. We have numerous pictures with the wedding party, pictures of the reception, pictures of us with my parents, pictures of us with his dad’s family and then his mom’s family.

So, what’s the problem? It was FREAKING Mother’s Day. We don’t have any pictures of us with JUST our mothers (or even with just all four of our parents for that matter). I had to crop a picture from the receiving line to get THIS one of both of our mothers together. Sheesh. (Oh, and that’s my youngest brother-in-law there in front of his mom. He’s taller than I am now!)

Happy Mother’s Day to Lynnda and Yvonne and Happy Anniversary, dear!

What’s the best gift you ever received or gave on Mother’s Day?

Feb 132008

So… Tomorrow’s Valentine’s Day. I often wonder how someone like me who used to rejoice when the annual Black Hearts Ball rolled around on Feb 14th came to want to write romance?

Back in high school, I got dumped on Valentine’s Day. Yeah, a real kick in the teeth. I didn’t realize it at the time or for quite a while after, but he actually did me a favor. I would still be stuck in the middle of nowhere living a dead-end life doing a dead-end job to make ends meet and babysitting grandchildren already.

Instead, I went farther away from home to college. I had a bad attitude about the male half of the population and didn’t give any of them much credit. I harbored my share of fruitless crushes and enjoyed the vicarious love and relationships between the pages of every romance novel I got my hands on. Men? I liked ’em, but hadn’t met any yet.

Then, beginning of my senior year, sitting in my History of American Music class with my friend Qui doing our usual scoping to amuse ourselves instead of paying attention, when I spotted this new guy wearing thick nerdy plastic glasses, a ratty rust-colored corduroy jacket, shaggy hair and a raggy t-shirt sitting there taking serious notes (although now I suspect he was doodling). I forget what had me so down that day, but I remember thinking, “Ya know, with my luck, I’ll end up marrying someone like him.”

These days, I wonder at my good fortune! I think we still may owe the guy he ended up rooming with the next year a debt for making us sit down on a week before Valentine’s Day (no pressure there!) and come to a decision on why we weren’t a couple like everyone else already assumed.

The fall of my senior year was one of my worst. I was extremely depressed on many fronts and I had little patience for dealing with people. Finally, I realized this guy “wasn’t people”. I kept spending time in his company when I didn’t want to face anyone else. I would never finished my senior thesis without him either. The ethic of “if I have to work, so do you!” has lasted which is one reason I focus better during chat challenges knowing someone else is working as well.

Eighteen years later, we’re happy, comfortable and have lived in both interesting and hellish places. Our two kids may drive us crazy at times, but I don’t think we’d really try to return them at this point.

I admit I’m not good at celebrating people, but I believe there are people in our lives we are destined to meet and connect with. I’m just lucky I found mine and didn’t end up with a toad. I still enjoy reading romances because of the escape from everyday situations and glimpses at a slower lifestyle. As for writing romance, I want to discover what my characters can teach me about showing and sharing love more consciously.

Jan 232008

I find myself rather annoyed with Hugh Daniel Leighton, Viscount Barrington.

Last fall, he whispered sweet seductions in my ear like the practiced rake he was, urging me to tell his story. So I abandoned the ms where he’d been a secondary character and found him a nice girl with a few quirks of her own.

Was the wretch grateful in the least? No! Every time he was on stage, he wanted off again. He hadn’t struck me as the shy nor reluctant type. Maybe this was he way of pulling a joke on me. He’s rather fond of getting attention that way, always trying to make someone laugh.

Everything I thought I knew about him, as a secondary character, also seemed to disappear during the month of November. His feisty, dragon of a grandmother, POOF! Billiard games with his best friend and wagering on them with reciting bad poetry as the forfeit, POOF! The sneaky debutantes who were trying to lure him into the parson’s mousetrap, POOF! About all that remained were his name and the fact that he was a charmer, who liked to play jokes (a recent development).

Ok. A bit more than that remained, but re-reading the ms revealed huge, gaping holes where his side of the story should be. Like the original 2400 word draft, there are clues and vague hints at goals and motivation, but nothing concrete or developed. His character arc seems to be missing. There was too much focus centered on the heroine and her story. DH’s biggest complaint is still that Barrington hasn’t earned anything along the way, it just happens to him.

So I complained about this troublesome hero previously and Jodi suggested reading Creating Unforgettable Characters by Linda Seger. The book had a lot of common sense advice. It’s not a workbook/worksheet type of book. I’ve looked at those types of character sheets before and gone, ‘Uh, yeah, but most of this is too modern pop-pysch for someone who lived 200 years ago!” What I ought to do is just start writing in his POV and see what happens. I’ve done some work on his GMC. Goal and Motivation, check. Conflict, hazy at best.

Last night I came across some old notes for the story where he’d been the secondary and I had one of those ‘Aha!’ moments. I’d worked out three separate story arcs with creating conflict through the gaps in each characters expectations. I’d ignored that little exercise for this one. No clue why, probably too excited about exploring Dunne’s structure at the time. So that’s also on my to do list.

Seger’s approach includes defining the character through consistencies and paradoxes. Ok, skipped that big-time for him. There are hints, but I need to expand on them and nurture them into something meaningful.

I need to go back and look at their relationship again as well. In those old notes I found the following quote: Dilemmas: mutually exclusive goods or lesser of two evils. Whoa! *head smack* How is it I can think I’ve learned something and then space it so completely, so soon? There’s very little conflict on his side of the relationship right now. He’s pretty clueless about the whole thing and seems to just go along for the ride for no real reason. He cares, but he’s been rather bashful about admitting why.

Learning more about the editing process beyond the word/sentence level helped none of these issues only compounded them. So, how about all those scenes? Didn’t I spend a month last fall dissecting scenes? Didn’t I think about the purpose of each scene, what the characters in the scenes might want to accomplish and how they’d go about creating that conflict necessary to keep the interest and tension going? Didn’t I have a nice little format for thinking about this already worked out? Uhh… no. Apparently, the panic of 1,667 words a day with very little preparation sent all thoughts of that approach right out the window.

Keeping forward momentum in multiple story arcs is exponentially harder than just one.

Sometimes I think I’m cramming too much into my brain. Getting everything to gel together into a coherent and working mindset is proving difficult. I’ve got a lot of habits to break too. He verbed/She verbed is still my favorite sentence construction. One interesting comment that DH was regarding how often my word choice wasn’t quite the most effective one to show what I wanted.

Back to the story board…

Oh, and blame Dana Belfry for the length of this post because she called me a blog slacker. Sometimes stuff has to percolate in the grey matter for a while.

Oct 192007

Male & Female Gender SymbolsLast night, I was talking to DH about yesterday’s Thursday Thirteen. He made the mistake of asking what I thought of Dr. John Gray’s Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus. We started off into a discussion about the types of love, but got derailed on Gray’s “point system” and how men and women view contributions around the house and to the relationship itself. We decided that the actual assignment of literal numbers was probably a bit far fetched, but the idea that women treated all contributions and gestures as equal where a man didn’t was probably a sound insight. It was also interesting that Gray noted that women would continue to contribute even after they felt they were “ahead in the game” where men would “coast” until they felt they were even again.

Also, reading over the comments from yesterday, I wanted to describe the types of love a bit more and explain how they related to each other. I also wanted to note that these are what Gray considers to be the primary needs for each sex and that it doesn’t mean you’re unusual because you appreciate ones from the other list more. Both sexes need all twelve types to be truly happy according to Gray.

Gray pairs the needs as shown below – the women’s needs feeding the man’s and vice versa. This makes sense to me because when I looked over them again, I’m not sure they’re as distinct as Gray makes them out to be. Only the first pair strikes me as having sufficiently different meanings. It could just be a “Martian/Venusian” translation issue (BTW, did I mention what a stupid metaphor I think that is?)

Women’s Primary Needs Men’s Primary Needs
Caring – A woman likes to have interest shown for her feelings and heart-felt concern for her well-being, not a perfunctory, “How was you day?” while flipping on the television. Trust – Men feel they are trusted when a woman has faith that he does his best and wants the best for her.
Understanding – She needs to feel he’s listening without judging to feel heard and understood (closely tied to validation). Acceptance – He needs to feel she loves him the way he is and that he’s not an improvement project – she can trust him to make his own improvements.
Respect – She needs to feel that her thoughts and feelings are taken into consideration and her rights, wishes and needs are acknowledged. Appreciation – Women can fulfill this need by acknowledging that she has personally benefited from his efforts and behavior.
Devotion – Women thrive when they feel adored and special – a man can fulfill this need when he makes her needs and feelings more important than his other interests – like work, study and recreation. Admiration – Men gain security from their woman’s happy amazement of their unique characteristics and talents.
Validation – Women need to feel they have the right to feel the way they do without judgment, argument or dismissal. Approval – This is acknowledges the goodness in the man and recognizes the good reasons behind what he does.
Reassurance – Women don’t stay satisfied once their primary needs have been met once, they need to be continually shown they are loved. Encouragement – A woman can encourage a man to be all he can be by continually expressing confidence, in his abilities and character.

The trick will be illustrating how these needs are and are not met and how that adds to the conflict or resolution between the main characters in a romance plot. One flaw that Gray pointed out was that men and women tend to give the type of love that they want to receive, but the other side doesn’t know how to accept it, or because it doesn’t address a primary need, they’re not as appreciative of it.

I have tried to be more aware of the differences, but it’s a bit too touchy-feeling for us to make a serious study of the book and try to follow to the letter. I think some of the concepts are beneficial in real life, but I suspect I’ll gain more benefit from this book in how I look at and sketch out the characters.

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