23 September 2011

The No-Resolution Resolution

by Diane Carlisle

We read a story for my creative writing class and it was one of those stories that end where the hero and villain come together, the final battle, they both reach for the last sword. Both are bruised and bloodied and basically on their last breath. When they reach for the sword at the same time, the story ends. What? It’s called a no-resolution resolution.

I was thinking about the no-resolution resolution and this whole thing about nobody in the end winning. That ending feels so not right to me. There's no period on the end there that tells me I just read a great story. The two just reach for the sword and that's it?

How about the ending of some horror movies where it's obviously over, the protagonist/hero/heroine has overcome these horrible events. They are safe and away from this dangerous lunatic. Then BLAM! A decaying hand springs up from a freshly dug grave...screams everywhere, OH MY GOD!

Yea, I hate that too.

I don't like open conflicts with no resolution, especially in a story. I'd still be taping soap operas if that were the case. Characters in those even come back to life to make sure the conflict stays fully engaged! Come on, really?

I prefer a more classic story that resonates forever, that nothing could ever take away even when it ends, something that has a real impact and a resolution. Once I experience the journey of a character, please don't destroy it (years later) with, "...and THEN." I'm like, "Nooooooo, don't!" Well, with the exception of Grease 2, loved it. But it was a complete new cast and a different story.

I'm getting away from writing now and moving into the movies, so sorry about that.

Another example is The Matrix. It was a hit. Then they came out with Matrix Reloaded and Revolution (back to back literally). In the first movie, Neo learns to use his powers to battle the wonderful Agent Smith. Then in Reloaded, he's stronger and more powerful, so he can essentially battle several of these replicated Agent Smiths. Finally, in Revolution he fights an insane number of Agent Smiths. With power growing exponentially, thus does the number of Agent Smiths. Really? REALLY?? I feel about this no-resolution resolution this same way. What's the point?

It's not natural. It goes against our basic human instinct, survival and resolution. If there is no resolution, then there is eternal conflict and the need for another chapter. This is good for capitalistic minds, but for the sake of art, I don't like it. It doesn't work for me because it's a cop out to the final product. Some write to market, others for the art.

A no-resolution resolution isn't something that I imagine a good read, especially not in a short story, maybe not even in a novel. An epic series, maybe, like Harry Potter. Eventually, each character must come to the end of his or her journey and there must be a reason, that reason is a resolution.

Until Harry Potter gives up his wand, his journey will continue, one right after the other. Dorothy went home; she gave up her ruby slippers. Something needs to be resolved for the protagonist when I read those final two words, The End. That's when a story is truly a story, not when the final two words are, stay tuned....

Are you okay with the no-resolution resolution?

17 September 2011

A Picture’s Worth A Thousand Words

by Diane Carlisle

Silence is Golden

This is my post for the September 2011 Blog Chain at Absolute Write. This month's challenge is to respond to a picture.

"We can't keep meeting like this," he said.

She pulled out another cigarette. He struck a match and cupped the tip as it flickered. She leaned in and let the flame dust the tip, drawing the smoke into her mouth and letting it fill her lungs.

She lifted her head up and away from him and blew the fumes out, "What's the matter? The Mrs. keeping you tied up on a leash now?"

"It's not like that." He drank the last of his scotch and placed the glass on the bar as the ice clinked to the bottom.

"One more, Frank?" the barkeep asked.

Frank nodded. He stared into his empty glass.

She crushed out her cigarette, picked up her purse, and stood. "So, I guess this is it?"

He looked at her for the last time. Her beautiful red lips turned down at the corners, eyes ablaze with anger.

She cracked an open hand across his cheek. "I'm sure you'll be happy one day, Frank."

He watched her leave. She had a hell of a figure, that one.

A stranger at the end of the bar lifted his bourbon and gave a slight nod of condolence.

Frank raised his glass back at the stranger and they drank in silence.

Here are the other participants and their responses if they've been posted:

orion_mk3 (link to post)
BigWords (link to post)
robeiae (link to post)
pezie (link to post)
Ralph Pines (link to post)
AbielleRose (link to post)
Darkshore (link to post)
dolores haze (link to post)
Alynza (link to post)
pyrosama (YOU ARE HERE)
lufftocraft (link to post)
Cath (link to post)

This post was also submitted to Art Themed Thursdays Blog Carnival. Please visit and join the fun!

11 September 2011

I Tried to Cut Off My Cousin's Penis

by Diane Carlisle

I consider them milestones in my growth as a person and as a writer. I hope you stick around to read them.

I tried to cut off my cousin's penis.

When my sister and I were four and five, our cousin was only three. I'm not sure why mom and Aunt Sachi decided the children needed to bathe together. They were probably hoping to conserve time and maybe save a little on the hot water. After we were all undressed, the adults left us alone while the water filled in the tub. I imagine they left to find some towels. When my aunt came back in and screamed, we all jumped out of our respective skins.

My aunt grabbed the scissors from my sister's hand and I quickly let go of my cousin's penis. It just wasn't normal hanging there like that. Obviously there was something wrong with him; he was so unlike me and my sister.

By the look on my aunt's face, I could tell she was horrified. Did she not know that the thing was there? For God's sake, she was his mother. You’d think she’d seen it before!

I almost died at the age of five.

My sister and I, along with another friend who was four, took a long hike to a common dam in Iwakuni, Japan. When I think back, I wonder where my parents were because the dam seemed a good mile away from home.

We hopped into one of many Nishiki fishing boats docked along a concrete landing surrounded by sand and small rocks. One of the other kids at the dam placed the anchor into the boat while we played ship captain and crew. We were so enchanted and immersed in our role-play that we didn't realize we were floating until the boat started rocking back and forth. By then, we were in the middle of the dam and none of us knew how to swim.

I remember standing up in the boat and crying while my sister yelled for me to sit down. My carrying on was making the boat rock more and to the point we almost tipped over.

As only five and six year olds might do in a situation like this, we sat as still as we could, because by golly the boat stopped rocking. Then an old Japanese man jogging along the dam saw us, swam out and rescued us. I say old, but he was the same age as I am now, but to a five year old, that's pretty old.

My parents found out about this little adventure of ours two weeks later when our rescuer ran into us in a Japanese super market. My mother was full-blooded Japanese and understood every word the man said. My sister and I just looked at each other and then at our mom and the old man. I remember I was fascinated by how fast they spoke in the Japanese language. We watched this foreign exchange back and forth until my mother had a look on her face that told me I wouldn't see the light of day for a very long time, and I didn't.

I dabbled in mirror writing in first grade.

It frightened my mother. She thought I had some sort of learning disability. I wrote a whole page using words that I created backwards and upside down. My first grade teacher finally called a conference with my parents but I had no idea why they made such a big fuss over it.

When we got home I held my paper up in the mirror and showed my mom that it was perfectly fine if you looked at it in the mirror. She made me stop doing that because the teacher couldn’t be bothered with having to use a mirror to read my writing and so I suffered many years having to suppress my inner muse.

I used to write in numbers.

Weird, I know, but it sort of looked like this on paper:

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8...

When I reached 100, I wrote it down in bold with an exclamation point, like so:

...97, 98, 99, 100!

I wrote numbers in this manner when I was bored and every time I reached another milestone like 200 and 300, I would also bold them and top it off with an exclamation point. Can you say OCD? I won't tell you what happened at numbers 1,000 and 10,000. I'll just say they all got their own special decorations.

I gave birth to my first child in a Japanese baby clinic.

My husband was stationed in Iwakuni, Japan in 1988, the year I gave birth to my son. I had to be driven to a local baby clinic when my water broke and put me in labor almost three weeks early. I didn't speak Japanese and the Japanese mid-wives didn't speak English. I also wasn't in a position to afford a translator. To say the least, my experience was an eye-opener, because I'd never had an enema either. I quickly discovered that no words are needed in a humble situation.

After I delivered my son, I realized I was in culture shock. I was starving by the time they brought my first meal to me. I lifted the silver dome cover of the large serving tray. Interesting as it was, the display didn't look very appetizing to me. There before me was a tightly packed bed of rice and lying across the top was a large broiled fish, a whole fish, teeth and all. I sent my husband to the military base to buy me a pizza. I came to understand why different genres are written the way they are written. To each their own!

So, anything from your past you’d like to share? I’m having a rather reflective day today and it’s a shame I have to go back to work in the morning.

07 September 2011

Top Gun - A Character's Arc

by Diane Carlisle

A typical character arc that I enjoy is the lone hero who is flawed yet larger than life. He or she is called to action, a journey. On this journey, they come face to face with their flaws and their fears. Redemption is found when the character falls into compliance with the larger goal.

I enjoyed in Top Gun, near the end when the instructor, Viper, says to Maverick that if he can't find someone who'll fly with him to give him a call, he'd fly with him. This happened after Maverick had lost his best friend during an aerial assault.

The entire movie was about this rebellious pilot, Maverick, who was egotistical but a very good pilot, good enough to make it into a top notch school for pilots, the call to journey forth. His only problem was that he was reckless. He would perform fly-bys at the control towers and his egotistical gimmicks and competitive nature didn't win him many friends at the academy. His best friend was about all he had.

During the aerial assault, he and his friend had to eject from their jet and there was a malfunction in the cockpit. His friend died. Maverick was found not responsible and therefore deemed fit to return to flight school.

However, the assault and subsequent death of his friend took the edge off his game and his not fitting in with the graduating class now elicits sympathy for this character. His arc is at its highest point. This is his beginning path to redemption.

Maverick must prove himself worthy as a team player. He must serve his role. It's not all about him and his win; it's about winning as a team. Now, he was humble and we want him to succeed. We want him to play by the rules, though he was larger than life in the beginning of the movie, the beginning of the arc for this character.

After completion of their course, a critical top secret mission summons the graduating class into a battle. In this climactic, confrontational combat scene, Maverick takes action where needed but never leaves his wingman. As a team, the group demonstrates a successful military mission. This, in turn, rewards his compliance and welcomes him into a realm which once rejected him.

What is your favorite character arc, and do you have a movie example to share?

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