On the 1! So not J. LO

high st brooklyn bridge signage mounted on blue steel post
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Jennifer Lopez titled her album On the 6. She would ride the 6 train from the Bronx into the city (if not from NYC, the city is what everyone calls Manhattan). Well, I live in the city and the train that I use to ride to go everywhere was the 1 train.

At fourteen, I rode it uptown to Washington Heights to see my friends. At sixteen, I rode to 137 street to see my boyfriend. In winter, my boyfriend and I would ride the length of it from South Ferry to Van Cortlandt Park. We would ride for hours, talking and sharing secrets and deepest thoughts while I did homework or most times not.

That was all the past. When I was a different person, one I remember with both laughter, fondness, groans, and embarrassment.

Now, the person I am is a person who cannot even walk past the entrance of a train station without having a panic attack. I cannot ride the trains. I freak out. I’ve come close to blacking out. Hell, I cannot even think or talk about the trains with anxiety.

The logical side of me knows that my irrational fear is stupid. That I have nothing to fear. That I had done it hundreds, thousands of times.

My emotional side laughs in my face and I panic. My life is very different. My anxiety changed how I live my life. I do not meet up with long distant friends or attend my Romance Writers of America local chapter. I don’t take part in functions that I would have been the first to show up.

I am a person that now has to figure that I go somewhere I have to see if I have a ride back or money for a taxi. My life exists just where my feet can take me. I have sought help for it, taking prescribed medication and do therapy.

One day, maybe, I might be on the 1.

Or most likely not.

 

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There's No Crying in Baseball…

Tom Hanks’s famous line from A League of Their Own may be true but emotions rear up at any time or place. And maybe tears aren’t needed in baseball but emotions are required in stories especially romance novels. After all, love is the one emotion everyone chases after.

Thanks to another blog, I learned about the book, Emotional Structure: Creating the Story Beneath the Plot: A Guide for Screenwriters written by Peter Dunne. Don’t let screenwriter turn you novelist away. It works whatever your genre.

The books offers a great many lessons but the first one is about knowing your story.
He separates this lesson into two parts:
1. Plot
2. Story

Plot is what happens and not just what happens but what happens to the protagonist.
Go ahead and read that sentence again.

Plot is what happens and not just what happens but what happens to the protagonist.

So you have the witness to a murder or a business collapse, a divorce or anything else that is outside the Protagonist. Some call it the External Conflict. This is what propels the pro tag to act.

Onto number 2– Story:
Story is what it does to the who it’s happening to.
Read it again and let it sink in.

Story is what it (the plot) does to the who (protag) it’s happening to.
So your witness now has to decide whether to go to the police or stay quiet. This plot is affecting him and his life.

These two parts are the units of a novel or script. And you can’t have one without the other.
So, you merge these two parts.

Let’s say our no-doubt-dashing hero and homicide detective, must find the murderer of the local football hero. The town where the murder occurred is hometown and as part of his job, he must notify the boy’s mother and his high-school girlfriend who broke his heart when she married his best friend. He plans to act professional and friendly without the warmth or how he always behaves with her. That’s his emotional defenses. He hides behind the badge and uses the distance to hide how much she hurt him.

When he arrives at her home, she throws herself into his arms and weeps. She tells him that she needs him. He promises to give his attention to finding her son’s murder. But his ex won’t give up, pulling at the emotion in him and so he tries a different way until he can get back to normal. Those skills he developed before have failed him.

Then something else happens. Let’s say, the victim is his son. So he has to use another tactic, use another skill to get back to his normal. Then something else happens and the protag must react and this repeats to the end of story and each time, he learns a new tool by reacting in a new way until his weakness is exposed. He might be unaware of the exposed weakness but he must change or fail.

This leads to our story’s climax when the character learns something. Here the emotion has to change because the hero has broken down his walls. Now he’s a better healed person for it.