Exercise: Write a short bio for one of your lessor characters
Bio of Marie Marisol
How do you want readers to feel about the character? Are they to have favorable or unfavorable feelings? Will they like the character? Will they be able to relate to her? Probably if the character behaves in a manner that is consistent. A bio can help guide you in how your character would perform in various situations. What she will say and do. So when you need something to happen in your story you know which character is most appropriate to assign that role to, because of their bio.
Marie Marisol was born in Windsor, Canada. Her father was a former French Canadian hockey player who worked as an equipment manager for the Detroit Red Wings professional hockey franchise. Her mother’s family was a minority owner of the team. Marie inherited her parents’ passion for sport and was an all-city athlete in high school. She was on the fencing team at Wayne State University and competed for Canada in the Olympic Games. Marisol has a PhD in Native American Studies from UC Davis. Before becoming the college chancellor she headed the Center of Teaching Excellence at Stanford University. A passionate animal lover, she has a standard poodle she brings to work with her.
Her husband enlisted: eager to fight,
eager to serve. She was a good wife,
accepted this. She could argue, but why
fight? The last night the sun set pale
in their wine by the garden. The last
kiss was fragile—lips thin and chapped
with goodbyes. In his absence, she bathed
behind a wickerwork screen, enjoyed
the iridescent rainbows of shampoo bubbles,
the way soft light manicured her nails,
the curl of toes beneath hot water,
the volume of hair as humidity twirled
fingers around her loose locks.
— Read on www.writersresist.com/2018/06/14/bathsheba-wants-to-write-metoo/
I live in a Redwood tree. Five foot thick branches extend out from the trunk I call the hearth. Like the spokes of an octagon shaped wheel, each branch leads to a different room. Looking east you’ll find the sleeping room, the first room of the day. To the right of the sleeping room you encounter the open air shower room where water cascades down in a soothing massage of rainfall. Follow your nose southward into the cooking room where you smell the aroma of fresh fruits, berries, nuts and vegetables being prepared. Just across the way sits the dining room, glancing down you notice a brilliant sheen glistening off the surface of a hardwood table carved from a log.
Head west where the drawing-room awaits. Complete with musical instruments, a fully stocked bar, card table, billiards suite, portable table tennis, hand sculpted built-in chess table, sunken sitting area for tea, and a lounge. Off the drawing-room is the play room equipped with a working stage. A vast library of play scripts bookend the stage. Yoga mats are rolled against the far wall. Near at hand is a rack with jump ropes, carved wood weights, display shelves of jigsaw puzzles, a standing desk with sketch paper, pencils, ink, fountain pens, paint, brushes, and an array of canvas materials. Two adjacent doors stand behind you. One is labeled darkroom and the other ceramic studio. The north branch leads to the entry room, access to all available transportation. Between the entry room and the sleeping room is a parlor, where there is a writing desk and a sofa surrounded by bookshelves.
There are massive skylights in the ceilings with rolling shades. Fine wood furnishings highlight polished hardwood floors. The walls have rich wood panelling of course. Portal shaped windows are positioned in such a fashion to create enough natural lighting throughout the day.
Outside you can see birdhouses above and below. The patio has swings, hammocks and a small yard. There is a launchpad and a zip line for ferrying to lower elevations.
As you walk through the house it seems heavenly. A natural aura emanates from the walls as you examine the layout. The northeast wing is quite restful, and you close heavy eyelids, unable to resist sampling a pleasant dreamscape. A peaceful air dominates the southeastern portion of the house. You hear harmonious chords being struck as a fresh breeze blows through the west windows, perfumed by forest blossoms. You can’t seem to shake the almost prophetic sense of deja-vu when you find yourself in the entryway, not remembering how you arrived there.
Standing at the outer edges and looking down, the view is majestic. Lake Tranquil is separated from a lazy river by an earthen dam. Below the river is a steep plummit called the Everlasting Falls. Once the pool of falling water settles, the path heads into a steam of rolling rapids that disappear into a lush forest I call The Hidden Wood. Completely secluded, only the squirrels and birds ever find their way to my front door.
Try creating by writing your sky-house. Or pick another imaginary place.
Poem by Mary Oliver
Beside the Waterfall
Source: The August 1993 edition of Poetry, a JSTOR publication with the Poetry Foundation poetryfoundation.org
Here I want to examine specific ideas which would fit seamlessly into my story. I should do a close reading and determine which additions would be consistent with the themes I have built. How well can these be woven into the overall plot of the story? Do they help build towards a climax or move the story along constructively in other ways? Another use for this practice is to find the right amount of tension. Are you satisfied with the level of tension in your story? By adding and removing you can make adjustments here and there until it tastes just right.
Take one of your stories and try this technique too. Did it help? Do you have a similar technique that works for you?
My protagonist ‘John’ is attracted to a woman. By adding another character to compete with him for her attention I could introduce tension. How does John feel about the idea of losing her? How does John react to what the other person does and says? How does his behavior change because of the presence of competition? Alternatively, does the woman have a job or a family member whom John has to compete with? Would that create guilty feelings in John for wondering if he is being selfish?
2. Work Stress
John has an important position at work. I might have something bad happen on the job. Perhaps an accident occurs where John has to split his attention from his current assignment to help out. Someone could file a complaint or lawsuit which would add pressure on John from both that direction and from his superiors as well. How does he handle pressure from his boss? What are the consequences to John and others if the lawsuit has merit? How can John solve the situation or prevent it from getting worse?
3. Family Trouble
John’s sister is his closest living relative. If she is dealing with a medical condition and needs John’s help that could increase demands on him. She might refuse the help or be a difficult patient. She might have a secret that she is keeping from him causing him concern. How does he feel about his sisters actions? Does she have personality traits that get under his skin? Does he fear losing his sister because he is a widow who already suffers from the death of a loved one?
John has been alone since his wife died. He could have an unresolved issue related to her loss. The anniversary of her death, or their marriage might be a source of stress for him. His son might blame John for her death and act out in dangerous ways as a result, forcing John to resolve the conflict. How does he relate to a son who resists his attempts to heal their relationship? What happens when he thinks about his wife and the times they had, does he remember happy times or conflict? Is he struggling with regret?
5. Personal Flaws
John is not perfect. He makes a mistake or forgets an important event. Now he has to deal with the aftermath. Perhaps he had to choose between two conflicting demands on his time. Why did he make the choice he did? How did having to make that choice affect him? How did the people affected respond to John’s choice? What new challenges does he have to overcome as a result?
Book Discussion Day 15: Chapter 14 – What did Jesus Teach About the Bible?
Jesus gave the following assertions in his teachings
The Old Testament is divinely Authoritative. In 92 occasions Jesus and his apostles supported their position by saying “it is written .”
The Old Testament is Imperishable. Matthew 5:17 “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will be no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.”
The Old Testament is infallible. John 10:35 :the Scripture cannot be broken.”
The Old Testament is Inerrant. Matthew 22:29 “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.”
The Old Testament is Historically Reliable. He validated Noah Matthew 24:37-38 and Jonah Matthew 12:40.
The Old Testament is Scientifically Accurate. While adherents of other religions may accept a complete separation from science Christians do not. Truth about the universe cannot be contradictory. Since all truth is God’s truth, religious beliefs must agree with scientific facts.
The Old Testament had Ultimate Supremacy. Jesus corrected the Pharisees and the teachers of the law by claiming that they should be obeying the Old Testament Scriptures instead of their own man-made traditions. Matthew 15:3,678
Jesus promised the New Testament
The 27 books comprise the only authentic record of the apostolic teaching we have. All were written in the first century by eyewitnesses or by those who interviewed eyewitnesses.
Jesus taught that the Old Testament is the inerrant Word of God, and he promised that the New Testament would come through the apostles. The apostles, who were authenticated by miracles, wrote or confirmed 27 books.
Since the Bible is our established standard for truth, anything that contradicts a teaching in the Bible is false. This means that any specific teaching that contradicts a teaching of the Bible is false.
The evidence revealed indicates79
The revelations of Judaism are true, but it is incomplete. It lacks the New Testament
The revelation of Islam has some truth. But it errs on some fundamental teachings, including its denial of the deity and resurrection of Christ.
Only the revelation of Christianity is the complete, inerrant Word of God.
Could the authors be wrong about all this? It’s possible. But in light of the evidence, skeptics and those of other faiths need to have a lot more faith than Christians to believe otherwise.
I think one point worth talking about here is why people willingly choose to reject what the Bible says. Is it because they have been given false information about the Bible that they allowed to convince them without finding out the truth for themselves? Is it because they haven’t taken the time to look at the evidence? Are they afraid of something? Is it, as the authors have said about atheists, that they know that if they acknowledge that the Bible is true then they no longer can justify being the sole authority on how they choose to live their lives? If so, is there a danger of them promoting and anti-Christian agenda on an unwitting public in order to influence political debate?
Another topic is related to agnostics. What should our attitude be towards a person who is questioning and open to the idea of God?
78Geisler & Turek page 357-360 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.
79 Geisler & Turek pages 376 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.
Book Discussion Day 13: Chapter 12 – Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead?
Chapter 12 exposes how false each of the theories put forth by skeptics to deny the resurrection of Jesus.71
Hallucinations aren’t experienced by groups. Jesus did not appear just once to one person. He appeared in a dozen separate occasions in a variety of settings to different people over 40 days. A total of over 500 people saw Jesus after his resurrection. The tomb was empty. No proof of Jesus’ body was shown by those that executed him because they did not have his body, when so many people claimed to see him alive.
They went to the wrong tomb theory
The theory assumes that all of the Jews and Romans had a permanent kind of collective amnesia about what they had done with the body of Jesus.
The theory doesn’t explain the appearances of Jesus. Nor does it explain the empty tomb well. Most of the disciples were hopeless and fearful still after learning of the empty tomb. They did not believe that the empty signified that Jesus was alive until they physically saw him and spoke with him.
Swoon or Apparent Death Theory
Everyone believed Jesus was dead
Jesus was embalmed in 75 pounds of bandages and spices. That doesn’t happen to a live person.
It assumes he would survive 36 hours, unwrap himself, move a 4,000-pound rock from the entrance and get past Roman guards.
He would not have appeared to be in good condition when he was seen.
It does not account for Paul’s encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus.
The Disciples stole the body theory
Were they hallucinating, or did they steal the body, which is it?
For some inexplicable reason, they stole the body n order to get themselves beaten, tortured, and martyred.
A Substitute Took Jesus’ Place on the Cross Theory
This is a popular Muslim theory. There is absolutely no evidence to back up this theory.
It should be noted that the Qur’an was produced over 600 years after Jesus. The New Testament has eyewitness accounts of what happened with Jesus only a few decades after his death and Resurrection.
So all those eyewitnesses who saw what happened, why do they say it was Jesus?
Why was the tomb found empty?
The Disciples Faith led Their Belief in the Resurrection
There is no evidence for this theory
I does not account for the appearance of the resurrected Jesus to over 500 people.
It ignores the fact that the scared, skeptical disciples were not in any frame of mind to invent a story they would later be put to death for believing. The resurrection appearances gave them their bold faith not the reverse, as this theory claims.
The New Testament Writers Copied Pagan Resurrection Myths
This theory fails to explain the eyewitness accounts at the time.
It does not explain the empty tomb
It does not explain the eyewitnesses who were martyred
It does not explain the testimony of non-Christian writings
It does not explain the facts which the vast majority of the scholars use to conclude the events were believed to have taken place by those who were present at the time.
The ancient non-Christian sources at the time – both Jewish and pagan – understood the resurrection was not a myth and instead argued at the time that they did not believe the accounts happened as Christians described.
There is no myth that is similar to Jesus’ resurrection
The first legitimate parallel story of a god rising from death appears about 100 years after Christianity began.
Skeptics Consistently Demand Evidence from Christians to Support the New Testament
The evidence to support the New Testament has been overwhelming, far exceeding any comparable historically documented event and proves true beyond a reasonable doubt.
Skeptics Have no Evidence to Support any of these Theories that doubt the New Testament
Their refusal to accept the New Testament accounts is based on philosophical bias against them.
How to View the Evidence
The theistic nature of the universe makes miracles possible
Ancient documents say miracles are to be expected
Historically confirmed eyewitness documents say miracles are actual
References of other ancient historians and writers confirm the basic storyline of the New Testament, and several archeological discoveries affirm the details they describe.72
Summary: One Solitary Life
Let us turn now to the story. A child is born in an obscure village. He is brought up in another obscure village. He works in a carpenter shop until he is thirty, and then for three brief years is an itinerant preacher, proclaiming a message and living a life. He never writes a book. He never holds an office. He never raises an army. He never has a family of his own. He never owns a home. He never goes to college. He never travels two hundred miles from the place where he was born. He gathers a little group of friends about him and teaches them his way of life. While still a young man, the tide of popular feeling turns against him. One denies him; another betrays him. He is turned over to his enemies. He goes through the mockery of a trial; he is nailed to a cross between two thieves, and when dead is laid in a borrowed grave by the kindness of a friend.
Those are the facts of his human life. He rises from the dead. Today we look back across nineteen hundred years and ask, What kind of trail has he left across the centuries? When we try to sum up his influence, all the armies that ever marched, all the parliaments that ever sat, all the kings that ever reigned are absolutely picayune in their influence on mankind compared with that of this one solitary life…73
It there was no resurrection, how could this life be the most influential life of all time?
71 Geisler & Turek pages 301-312 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.
72Geisler & Turek pages 317-319 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.
73Geisler & Turek page 324 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.
John Grisham is in my short list of favorite authors alongside Tana French, Philip Kerr and Pierce Brown. My two favorites are probably Runaway Jury and The Client. I never finished Gray Mountain so that would not be a positive review if it came down to it.
Camino Islandis a heist story. It takes place in the book world. My complements to John Grisham for writing a novel about the novel writing business. A book about authors and their work can’t be all bad. I’m convinced this book is Grisham’s tribute to his readers and book lovers in general. It’s also a salute to independent bookstore owners
What I liked:
The story takes place in the summer. I chose it as a summer read. It’s so appropriate to have summer novels cover the summer season! It’s on the beach too. What a perfect setting for a summer read. The only regret I have is that I didn’t take it to the beach with me.
There’s a nice vignette depicting authors talking about authors and writing. Or not talking about writing. Apparently, writers come in two camps, those that talk about their writing and those that don’t. Either way this for me was the cornerstone of Camino Island. I wish there was more, a lot more, of the group of writers. That was a book I really could have gotten into. There wasn’t enough of that part of the book for me.
There’s a private insurance investigation group of characters in the story. This part also has potential. I could see an entire series of novels based on them. I doubt that John Grisham has the inspiration to do that though. He’s written so much already and I don’t think he needs the money. Oh Well.
What I didn’t like
None of the thieves involved in the heist were convincing. Having spent time around people who steal things, I have an impression of what they’re like. None of them were given much depth either. At least if they weren’t convincing I might have tolerated them had I gotten to know them a little bit.
I got the impression that Grisham was interested in writing about one character – Bruce Cable – a book store owner. He spends his time and energy on Cable. Just not enough on the others, any of them, to make the book enjoyable.
He has another character, a young author named Mercer, who is struggling to write her second novel. She is also struggling, financially and personally. However, her story would have meant a totally different book. I suspect Grisham didn’t find her challenges interesting enough on their own, so he folded her into this heist novel. Mercer has writer’s block. I am wondering if she’s a projection of the writer’s block Grisham had trying to write the novel about her, until he gave up and put her in Camino Island. All in all I expect Grisham fans will appreciate this book. If you aren’t a fan I can’t see any reason why this one would convince you otherwise.
Chapter 11 – The Top Ten Reasons We Know the New Testament Writers Told the Truth
The top ten reasons we know the New Testament writers told the truth.66
The New Testament writers included embarrassing details about themselves.
The New Testament writers included embarrassing details and difficult sayings of Jesus.
The New Testament writers let in demanding sayings of Jesus.
The New Testament writers carefully distinguished Jesus’ words from their own.
The New testament writers include events related to the resurrection that they would not have invented.
The New Testament writers include more than thirty historically confirmed people in their writings.
The New Testament writers include divergent details.
The New Testament writers challenge their readers to check out verifiable facts, even facts about miracles.
New Testament writers describe miracles like other historical events: with simple, unembellished accounts.
The New Testament writers abandoned their long-held sacred beliefs and did not deny their testimony under persecution or threat of death.
Three radical beliefs adopted by New Testament Christians after abandoning their old beliefs.67
Sunday, a work day, as the new day of worship.
Baptism as a new sign that one was a partaker of the new covenant in place of circumcision, the sign of the old covenant.
Communion as an act of remembrance of Christ’s sacrifice for their sins.
Communion is especially inexplicable unless the Resurrection is true. Why would Jews make up a practice where they symbolically eat the body and drink the blood of Jesus?68
Unnecessary because of Christ’s sacrifice
Binding Law of Moses
Nonbinding because it was fulfilled by Christ’s life
Trinity (three persons in one divine essence)
Replaced by Sunday worship
Sacrificial Messiah (he’ll conquer when he returns)
Replaced by baptism and Communion
Finally, in addition to abandoning long-held sacred institutions and adopting new ones, the New Testament writers suffered persecution and death when they could have saved themselves by recanting. If they had made up the Resurrection story, the certainly would have said so when they were about to be crucified (Peter), stoned (James), or beheaded (Paul).69
In chapters 9 and 10 the authors proved we have an accurate copy of the early and eyewitness testimony found in the New Testament documents. The question for chapter 11 is whether the documents were invented, embellished, or exaggerated. The chapter proves that they were not. The writers simply had no motive to lie, and every motive to admit they were lying if they had. The lasted remaining objection by skeptics then is that the New Testament writers were deceived. They sincerely though Jesus had risen from the dead, but they were wrong. Chapter 12 deals with that theory.70
How much faith does it take to believe the New Testament? Faith is often a missunderstood word. The faith that Christianity is based on is basically belief that because Jesus is God, committing to Him results in an eternal existence based on forgiveness of sins we committed. Sins that were judged and punished with the crucifixion of Jesus. Do you think the book makes a persuasive case that believing the New Testament is actually true takes a lot less “faith” than disbelieving it, as atheists and others choose to?
66 Geisler & Turek pages 275-290 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.
67Geisler & Turek pages 292 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.
68Geisler & Turek page 292 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.
69Geisler & Turek page 292 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.
70Geisler & Turek page 297 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.