“Courage”

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Can one woman evade an alien empire to save her son’s life?

Gilla and Elias have the perfect life—or as perfect as life can be for slaves living deep in the Esarelian Empire. Elias wants freedom for his precious wife and daughter, and the rest of their people, and he is willing to fight to get it. Pregnant with her second child, Gilla only wants a happy, healthy family who share a strong faith in the God of Old Earth and to get through her workload each day.

When the Esarelians decide to teach their rebellious slaves a lesson they will never forget, Gilla’s entire life is turned upside down. She must trust that God has a plan to protect her new-born son, and have the courage to follow it, choosing the strangest of allies in an effort to ensure his survival.

Courage is a science fiction reimagining of the Biblical story of Moses’s birth.


“Conviction”

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Can two people with opposing principles overcome their differences to be together?

Than has spent his life ostensibly having fun while secretly fighting for his people’s freedom. A member of the underground resistance, he is only ever serious around his comrades and his family. When an injury forces him to step down from active duty and his reluctant nurse sparks his interest, Than finds himself in uncharted territory. The fascinating woman will have nothing to do with him.

Menali’s past has taught her to keep her head down and trust that God has a reason for allowing the human race to suffer on U’du. When Than explodes into her life, he refuses to take no for an answer and challenges all of her preconceptions. He soon has her re-evaluating her priorities and wondering what life with someone like him would be like.


AboutMe3
Lauren H Salisbury was an English teacher for sixteen years with an MA in Education. She is now a writer who dabbles with tutoring and lives with her husband and a room full of books in Yorkshire, England. She likes to spend winters abroad, following the sunshine and becoming the seasonal envy of her friends. When she’s not writing, she can be found spending time with family, reading, walking, crafting, or cooking. Courage is her debut novel.

*** ENTER THE RAFFLECOPTER GIVEAWAY HERE ***

Conviction 3D

 

Links

Buy Conviction: http://a.co/doeQtkg
Buy Courage: http://amzn.to/2ItzMl4
Email list sign-up: http://eepurl.com/djCo0z
Website: http://www.laurenhsalisbury.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/gillascourage

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A Guest Review of “Thrawn: Alliances”

As a part of Sci-Fi September, I invited a friend’s review of a favorite recent Sci-Fi read. First, I’ll introduce you to the reviewer.

Kimberly Kunker of Arador’s Rustic Shop (on Etsy)

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Kimberly Kunker operates Arador’s Rustic Shop on Etsy, which sells Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and Renaissance Festival leather accessories, as well as leather journals and chain mail. She’s made belts, pouches and holsters for a number of Jedi, Sith, smuggler and Mandalorian cosplayers from around the country. As a novice cosplayer herself, she understands the desire to get a costume “just right” and the pride that comes from having handmade elements as part of a kit. Star Wars, Stargate, and Ender’s Game are among her favorite sci-fi series.

“Thrawn: Alliances” by Timothy Zahn

Back Cover Summary

Thrawn

“I have sensed a disturbance in the Force.” Ominous words under any circumstances, but all the more when uttered by Emperor Palpatine. On Batuu, at the edges of the Unknown Regions, a threat to the Empire is taking root its existence little more than a glimmer, its consequences as yet unknowable. But it is troubling enough to the Imperial leader to warrant investigation by his most powerful agents: ruthless enforcer Lord Darth Vader and brilliant strategist Grand Admiral Thrawn. Fierce rivals for the emperor’s favor, and outspoken adversaries on Imperial affairs, including the Death Star project, the formidable pair seem unlikely partners for such a crucial mission. But the Emperor knows it’s not the first time Vader and Thrawn have joined forces. And there’s more behind his royal command than either man suspects.

Kimberly’s Review

Genre: space opera

Rating: PG-13, for numerous fight scenes

First introduced to readers by author Timothy Zahn in 1991, Grand Admiral Thrawn is one of the few characters to make the transition from the Expanded Universe to Disney canon. Seeing Thrawn re-introduced in the animated Star Wars Rebels in July of 2016 was a dream come true for many fans. Zahn re-created his character for the new era. “Thrawn: Alliances” (July 2018) is the sequel to “Thrawn” (2017).

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Episodes on YouTube

This book has two parallel story arcs; the first set with Anakin during the Clone Wars, the second with Vader during the Empire. In the Clone Wars arc General Anakin Skywalker went to Batuu to find Padme after she was found missing. While preparing to land, he was intercepted and delayed by an alien who wanted to learn about the Republic. He struggled to interact with this unknown species speaking in a trade language he barely understood. Padme was portrayed as competent and smart; she helped Anakin and Thrawn escape when they were captured. Anakin’s impatience was seen in his desire to rush in and blindly attack a Separatist outpost. If you’ve seen The Clone Wars animated series then you know Anakin: impulsive, quick on his feet, and always ready to use his lightsaber to do the talking. Zahn split the point of view between Anakin, Thrawn, and Padme, which helped portray each character’s mindset and how they viewed each other.

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Clone Wars on YouTube

The Imperial arc pairs the Emperor’s enforcer, Vader, with his greatest military strategist, Thrawn. Both have secrets which they try but fail to keep from the other. The parallel arcs were masterfully interwoven and they showed how Thrawn and Anakin went from complete strangers to respected but tentative allies. In the Imperial arc, Thrawn thought Vader was a stranger he had to build trust with, not knowing that they had worked together during the Clone Wars. Vader thought Thrawn’s loyalty was split between the Empire and his native Chiss Ascendancy, and Thrawn knew there was something about Vader he could not figure out. Thrawn wanted to keep his native planet and his people a secret, but he was still loyal to the Empire. Vader would have rather been sent to any other part of the galaxy than to a place where he had memories of Padme.

Competition is crucial to the Imperial hierarchy; Thrawn worked his way through the ranks, but Vader is outside the standard chain-of-command. As such, the men under their commands are unsure of how to handle themselves when aboard Thrawn’s Star Destroyer. Vader had to act as if he did not know anything about Thrawn or the planet they were on, but Anakin’s memories kept surfacing and getting in the way. Zahn’s decision to have Vader refer to Anakin as “the Jedi” showed his conflicted nature and his attempts to suppress his former life.

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Thrawn’s strategic thinking helped temper Anakin and later Vader’s reckless and impulsive nature. Thrawn is the Sherlock Holmes of the Star Wars universe; he makes deductions based on visual, verbal, and artistic cues. One reason Vader is such an enigma to him is because he can’t get a good visual read on him. Thrawn always has a long game in mind and has contingency plans in place. For the mission on Batuu to succeed, Vader needed to trust Thrawn’s intel and learn how to navigate through uncharted hyperspace lanes using a Chiss Force technique which Thrawn could only describe second-hand since he was not Force-sensitive. Only their combined abilities allowed them to succeed and find the underlying cause of the Force disturbance. At the end of the book—when Vader flew one of Thrawn’s new TIE Defenders—his piloting skills and command style allowed Thrawn to correctly deduce that he was once Anakin Skywalker. Thrawn had revealed some of his species secrets by telling Vader they had Force-sensitive children, and Vader revealed his former identity by relaxing his guard when he returned to a starfighter cockpit.

About Arador’s Rustic Shop & Owner, Kimberly

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Kimberly, an avid fan of J. R. R. Tolkien, has been hooked on fantasy ever since she first read “The Hobbit” in third grade. She became interested in making chainmaille in high school and learned to visualize medieval weapons and armour from “The Lord of the Rings” movies.

The name of her shop comes from Tolkien’s Elvish, meaning “Lord of the Land/Royal Lord.” Arador was the 14th Chieftan of the Dunedain, an ancestor of Aragorn.

Her products are solid, functional, and affordable, turning natural rustic materials into the same simple and timeless designs as the Elves and Rohirrim wore.

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Star Wars crafts at Arador’s Rustic Shop (Etsy)

>>> GIVEAWAY Instructions <<<

Click the Facebook permalink below and follow the instructions in the post:

https://www.facebook.com/events/525745971219051/permalink/531045204022461/

What I love about “Driven to the Hilt”

Guess what? We’re only two weeks away from the cover reveal for Book 3 in the “Driven to the Hilt” series! In anticipation of that event, I decided to share some of the things I loved about the first book.

A few weeks a ago, I sent a copy of “Driven to the Hilt: The Deepest Cut” to a friend in honor of their birthday. The idea was for friends to send one of their favorite books and to write inside the cover explaining why they chose that particular book.

Here’s some of what I wrote (transcribed below):

Inside-Cover-Driven-to-the-Hilt

Here’s a brief summary of what I loved about this novel:

(1) World-building – unique with life-like descriptions of completely fictional flora and fauna. (More here.)

(2) Characterization / Emotion – the author is a clinical neuropsychologist! ‘Nuff said 🙂 … But seriously, I LOVE Joshua’s character. (More here.)

AND, because I had so much to say about this novel, I also slipped a typed letter inside the front page—a letter that could be addressed to any prospective reader. So that’s what I’ll do:

Dear Reader,

I loved so many things about this story that it would be nearly impossible for me to fit everything I recommend about it within the small space at the front of the book…

First, the world-building is impressive. In the same way the movie Alien fascinated me in its presentation of a new species, DG Lamb’s Driven to the Hilt also fascinates with unique flora and fauna that definitively impact the plot. The world feels real…and different—there’s nothing cliché that stood out, no overused tropes or tired plot lines. No info dump…

Second, the characterization and, especially, the portrayal of emotion is beyond words to describe. The author is a clinical neuropsychologist and, as the back cover blurb says, he “uses his understanding of posttraumatic stress symptoms to inject psychological authenticity and complexity into Joshua’s personality, creating a wounded, but endearing central character.” … I would be very surprised if you don’t end up rooting for Joshua and cheering him on by the end.

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In spite of the sometimes dark subject matter…the overall narrative retains a buoyant feeling of hope. As Donald Maass says in The Emotional Craft of Writing Fiction, “The spirit you bring [to your writing] is the spirit we’ll feel as we read [your book], and of all the feelings you can excite in your readers the most gripping and beautiful is the spirit of hope.” In spite of moments in which the entire world seems to be working against him, protagonist Joshua—in memory of his father’s motto—remains RESOLUTE.

In the end, I think you’ll find there are many treasures to unearth from this story, including layers of theme, symbolism, and a beautiful mirror of the beginning at the very end. I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did!

Sincerely,

Lara Storm Hitchcock


This September, there’s a lot going on!

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About “The Deepest Cut”:

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Already a social outcast because of his father’s alleged betrayal, young Joshua finds himself trapped outside the mining colony on the planet of Cypress Grove. He faces a murky rainforest infested with a creature so deadly, it has kept all humans confined inside their only settlement for decades. If he can manage to escape these alien wilds, he must then brave the even darker dangers of the colony’s underworld.

It is a tale of survival, a premature coming of age in an environment demanding resiliency, inventiveness, and self-reliance. But when teetering on the sharp edge of stark choices, decisions of life or death, can Joshua afford to consider questions of right and wrong, or does expediency rule the day?

About the Author

AuthorDGLamb

Debut author D G Lamb, a clinical neuropsychologist, uses his understanding of posttraumatic stress symptoms to inject psychological authenticity and complexity into Joshua’s personality, creating a wounded, but endearing central character.

What fans are saying…

“…a debut novel that brilliantly introduces a series with huge promise of entertainment.” – R Oserio (Readers Favorite)

“…one of the most original and well-told stories I’ve ever read.” – S Cahan

“Author D.G. Lamb navigates Joshua’s trauma with a sense of surrealism that’s both poignant and true to life.” – CL Farley (Readers Favorite)

“It is emotionally intense and it is hard not to feel for the protagonist …watching him grow through the challenges is delightful.” – R Oserio

“Lamb does an outstanding job of displaying Joshua’s evolving worldliness while still maintaining a childlike sense of innocence about the character.” – CL Farley

“First-time author D.G. Lamb has established himself as a new talent in young adult novels with this first effort…” – S Cahan

“This book is not what I expected, but wow.” – Lara Storm Hitchcock | Article 1: Characterization | Article 2: Setting

On Amazon: Book 1 | Book 2 | Book 3 Preorder and cover reveal coming soon!

Author Website: https://www.driventothehilt.com/

Celebrating Science Fiction in September

Visit the Sci-Fi September Facebook Event page and/or the Pinterest page below for links to the science fiction novels to be featured daily throughout September. Please note, a novel’s inclusion in the list isn’t necessarily a personal endorsement as I haven’t had a chance to read them all. Nevertheless, I hope this little promo helps you find your next favorite read!

Also, follow the link here and share to support research for childhood cancer:

https://www.facebook.com/events/525745971219051/permalink/526878441105804/

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And now, take a moment, to share the title and author of one of your favorite science fiction reads in the comments below. Or, if you’re an author, feel free to share a brief description of one of your sci-fi novels. As for me, D.G. Lamb’s “Driven to the Hilt” series is one of my recent favorite sci-fi reads: (Check out the slideshow here.)


Driven-to-the-Hilt-press-release-book-only

Already a social outcast because of his father’s alleged betrayal, young Joshua finds himself trapped outside the mining colony on the planet of Cypress Grove. He faces a murky rainforest infested with a creature so deadly, it has kept all humans confined inside their only settlement for decades. If he can manage to escape these alien wilds, he must then brave the even darker dangers of the colony’s underworld.

It is a tale of survival, a premature coming of age in an environment demanding resiliency, inventiveness, and self-reliance. But when teetering on the sharp edge of stark choices, decisions of life or death, can Joshua afford to consider questions of right and wrong, or does expediency rule the day?

AuthorDGLamb

Debut author D G Lamb, a clinical neuropsychologist, uses his understanding of posttraumatic stress symptoms to inject psychological authenticity and complexity into Joshua’s personality, creating a wounded, but endearing central character.

What fans are saying…

“…a debut novel that brilliantly introduces a series with huge promise of entertainment.” – R Oserio (Readers Favorite)

“…one of the most original and well-told stories I’ve ever read.” – S Cahan

“Author D.G. Lamb navigates Joshua’s trauma with a sense of surrealism that’s both poignant and true to life.” – CL Farley (Readers Favorite)

“It is emotionally intense and it is hard not to feel for the protagonist …watching him grow through the challenges is delightful.” – R Oserio

“Lamb does an outstanding job of displaying Joshua’s evolving worldliness while still maintaining a childlike sense of innocence about the character.” – CL Farley

“First-time author D.G. Lamb has established himself as a new talent in young adult novels with this first effort…” – S Cahan

“This book is not what I expected, but wow.” – Lara Storm Hitchcock | Article 1: Characterization | Article 2: Setting

On Amazon: Book 1 | Book 2 

Author Website: https://www.driventothehilt.com/

 

Part 3: Action-reaction in fiction as Newton’s Literary Third Law

“For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction…” Newton’s Third Law, thus stated, uses the words action and reaction to refer to the physical forces operating on two interacting objects. These forces exist simultaneously (equal magnitude, opposite direction), as in the image below.

OJ_action-reactionSS

*** Be forewarned: The writing analogy strays from the simultaneity implicit in Newton’s Third Law. ***

In WriterSpeak (with a little simplification), Newton’s Third Law could be translated as follows: “Every (protagonist) action sparks an opposing (antagonist) reaction.” Conversely, each enemy attack creates some situation to which the hero must respond.

Why? Not necessarily because the antagonist is a bad person (he may not be a person at all), but because he and the hero have clashing goals (e.g., The Fugitive‘s Dr. Richard Kimble vs. Deputy Samuel Gerard).

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Dr. Richard Kimble (played by Harrison Ford) professes his innocence and Deputy Samuel Gerard (Tommy Lee Jones) says, “I don’t care.” (But guess what. He cares.)

On a basic level, the central conflict of every novel is founded on this tug-of-war interaction between a hero and his opposition. The antagonist acts (cause). The hero reacts (effect). For every action taken, some change occurs that invites further response. Plot is, by definition, a sequence of events linked by action and reaction—by cause and effect. (More on that here.)

On a large scale, we can see this basic tug-of-war structure across Star Wars episodes 4 to 6. In A New Hope, the rebels destroy the Death Star. (Hero victory!) But then The Empire Strikes Back. (The hero withdraws to lick his wounds.) Finally, in Return of the Jedi, hero Luke not only overcomes the antagonist (Darth Vader), but also rescues him from the dark side. (Permanent victory! The central conflict is resolved.)

Back and forth like lumberjacks moving a two-person saw, the hero and villain push and pull, perpetually digging in deeper. It’s not always as straightforward as hero vs. villain, but the point is, your hero isn’t working in a vacuum (er—unless you’re writing sci-fi). But even if he is in a literal vacuum, it’s not clear sailing to the finish. He’s dodging space debris where there should be a planet, getting caught in a tractor beam, and being diverted into smelly garbage mashers by a pushy princess (all because he’s coming up against that antagonistic force).

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Motivated by some personal need, the hero presses forward in pursuit of his goal. That goal is what’s driving him forward. But he must meet with opposition or else the story sags. After all, opposition stems from that all-important ingredient of good fiction, which finds its origin in that action-reaction push and pull: Conflict!

What do you think? What are the forces of antagonism in your own story? Do you enjoy a story more when the antagonist is blatant (as in Star Wars and Silence of the Lambs) or when it’s more subtle (as in The Help or Forrest Gump)? Leave a comment below (and drop your email here) for a chance to win a 2500-word critique or an e-copy of Janice Hardy’s book Understanding Conflict. To enter the “special giveaway” with the option of winning a $25 gift certificate from Better World Books, visit the permalink here and follow the instructions.

Missed the first two? Check them out here: Part 1: How Newton’s First Law mimics character motivation. AND Part 2: How a character’s internal change mirrors Newton’s Second Law.

Part 2: How a character’s internal change mirrors Newton’s Second Law

A brief recap

Last time, we talked about the external events surrounding our hero’s humble beginnings. Rather than starting out heroic, he or she tries to avoid the journey set before them.

  • During the reaping for The Hunger Games, the last thing Katniss wants is to volunteer to be a tribute.
  • In The Lord of the Rings, Frodo’s first reaction to Gandalf’s news about the ring is to give it away (to reject the journey).
  • Luke, too, in Star Wars: A New Hope, makes excuses for why he can’t go with Obi-wan.

They’re not looking for adventure, but their outward circumstances change in a way they can’t ignore. Outside force. Outward circumstances. Protagonist decisions leading to action. All these things fall within the realm of the plot—the physical journey: External changes. But the “outside force” triggers internal changes as well…

just like the debris expelled from Earth’s surface into orbit during the creation of the moon… (*WARNING: TANGENT ALERT!*)

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Okay, so maybe an Earth particle blasted into space by a meteor doesn’t make for a great character…

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But, I digress…

Internal Change (the realm of character arc)

In the first chapter, our protagonists are likely to be stuck in a rut—internally at least. They believe some lie, or they’re haunted by their past, or they’re hampered by besetting flaws that prevent them from fulfilling their dreams. Or maybe they’re hampered by a flaw because they believe a lie that was first stamped into their brains during some past traumatic event (i.e., their ghost or wound). The point is, most characters need to change (internally), but they can’t do it on their own.

Then along comes the “outside force” (e.g., meteor), and soon thereafter the protagonist’s decision launches him on a journey that takes the rest of the book to complete. Like the initial “outside force” that first sets your protagonist in motion, new external circumstances and events (all related to the central conflict) present new challenges for your hero to overcome. During the course of the journey, he struggles against various obstacles that force him to address his inner issues until he emerges, a changed man.

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But how does all this relate to Newton’s second law?

F = ma, a = F/m

Newton’s Second Law is most familiar to people when it’s expressed as a formula. Force equals mass times acceleration

With a little rearrangement, this becomes: acceleration equals force divided by mass. In other words, there are two variables responsible for changes in the acceleration of a body: The Force (may it be with you) and the mass:

(1) Variations in the Force (↑F, ↑a … ↓F, ↓a)

In physical terms, the rate of change in velocity—i.e., acceleration—of a particular body is proportional to the total force acting on that body. Imagine shoving a shopping cart with a big vs. little oomph. (These are technical terms here, so you might want to jot some notes.) Obviously, the bigger oomph produces the greater acceleration.

In WriterSpeak, a character’s overall internal change will be proportional to the magnitude of difficulties he or she must overcome. In other words, the greater the forces acting on a character, the more he or she changes.

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(2) Variations in the Mass (↑m, ↓a … ↓m, ↑a)

In physical terms, the greater the mass on which a given total force acts, the more sluggish the acceleration. That is to say, your shopping cart is harder to push once filled.

In WriterSpeak, the more sluggish or stubborn the character, the greater the forces needed to bring about a given change. In other words, more challenging trials will be required to reform Jack the Ripper than to convince Elizabeth Bennet to marry Mr. Darcy.

So, Newton’s second literary law speaks to the magnitude of a character’s internal change (or arc)…

The bottom line here is that every heroine needs impetus to overcome her issues. The more we want her to change, the more pressure we need to apply in the way of plot hurdles and difficult choices (i.e., internal and external conflict).

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After all, characters are the most stubborn of people. They don’t learn from their mistakes the first time around. They aren’t self-enlightened individuals who spontaneously decide to become better people overnight. They scoff at their mentors, presuming they themselves know better—until struggle and hardship teach them otherwise. Only after they’ve experienced the full constriction of their flaws can they embrace the idea of change.

How about you? When you recognize flaws in yourself, do you find them easy to overcome? What about your characters? How is the magnitude of their arc proportional to the difficulties they have to face? Leave a comment below (and drop your email here) for a chance to win a 2500-word critique or an e-copy of K.M. Weiland’s book Creating Character Arcs.

Come back next week to peruse the next article in this series: Story Physics, Part 3: Action-Reaction in fiction as Newton’s Literary Third Law. Missed the first one? Check it out here: Part 1: How Newton’s First Law mimics character motivation.

Part 1: How Newton’s First Law mimics character motivation

Let’s start with the basics. What is Newton’s First Law? It could be stated like this: A body at rest stays at rest, and a body in motion carries on in the same speed and direction—unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.

In WriterSpeak, we might say that a character “at rest” (or in motion) will remain “at rest” (or in motion) until acted upon by an outside force.

Let’s explore this analogy further…

At the beginning of each story, the main characters are living out their lives. They may not be physically resting (i.e., inactive / external rest). They may not even be at peace with their life (i.e., contented / internal rest). But they’re not yet motivated to stray from their everyday course…

UNTIL an outside force (likely caused—directly or indirectly—by the antagonist) sets off the central conflict that forces the protagonist to change plans. The initial force permanently alters the hero’s course and initiates his mission against the enemy.

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But what does that mean?

Outside Force

The phrase “outside force” speaks of the external nature of the dilemma. This isn’t mere angst over some long-standing issue, but rather an unexpected plot event that presents a new challenge. The outside force is also important in terms of cause & effect. That is to say, realistic characters won’t drastically change course without good reason. The hero only acts in response to the proper motivation.

For example, in Star Wars: A New Hope, Luke discovers a secret SOS in a droid his uncle recently purchased. After Old Ben thwarts the sand people’s attack, Luke mentions the message—then declines when Ben invites him on his quest. Why?

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Because Luke is not yet motivated enough to go to Alderaan. He has plans in the works he’s not ready to scrap, even if they happen to spring from a sense of obligation toward his uncle. Sure, the plot would’ve been easier to write if Luke had just said,“Sure, why not?” But his motivation throughout the rest of the story would’ve suffered as a result.

The point is this: Luke doesn’t/shouldn’t decide to change his plans on a whim. And so, at this particular point in time, he realistically rejects the journey.

The Journey

Whatever story you’re writing, it’s just about guaranteed to involve some kind of literal or figurative journey—one your hero would rather avoid. We’ve already seen Luke reject his mission. But what finally gets him involved? In generalized terms, why don’t our heroes perpetually turn and run when the going gets tough? Because the outside force imposes a situation he can’t ignore, thereby forcing the choice that propels him on his journey.

The first set of key words here is “he can’t ignore.” Why doesn’t the character just walk away? Because too much is at stake—and not in a purely altruistic way. Whatever it is that’s gotten your hero’s attention, it’s personal. Sure, in the beginning he might’ve said, “It’s not that I like the Empire. I hate it. But there’s nothing I can do about it right now.” But then the antagonist hits him where it hurts and he makes a choice: “There’s nothing for me here now. I want to learn the ways of the Force and become a Jedi like my father.”

That choice always leads to action and thereby alter’s the hero’s course.

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Examples from Film

Consider the change of course for the characters in each of the movies listed below, and ponder this question: Would the character have made his or her decision if not for the pressure exerted by the “outside force”? Also, see if you can identify the personal stakes for each character (easier for some than others).

EXAMPLE 1: The Hunger Games

Character Status Quo: Go hunting. Feed family. Don’t starve. Outside Force (External Events): Little sister’s name is drawn as tribute for the Hunger Games. Character Decision: Katniss volunteers to take her sister’s place.

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EXAMPLE 2: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

This particular example is complicated by multiple characters, each with their own interacting decisions. It also involves a complex series of forces that thrust the Pevensies on their journey. As such, this particular film is a good example of how the motivational transition that turns apathy into action isn’t always a straightforward singular event.

Character Status Quo: Boredom in the Professor’s mansion. No one expects good from Edmund. Intermediate happenings: During a game of hide and seek, Lucy discovers the wardrobe portal. No one believes her. Edmund follows her in one night and meets the White Witch, who deceives him with flattery. (He thinks that she, unlike his siblings, sees his value.)

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Series of forces and Decisions leading up to the journey: Edmund sends a ball through the upstairs window. Mrs. Macready’s offstage shrieks send the Pevensies running for the wardrobe. The two elder Pevensies are wowed by the snowy world within, and Peter—after calling Edmund out for lying—apologizes to Lucy by indulging her desires to visit Mr. Tumnus. There they learn the White Witch has captured Mr. Tumnus. Though Lucy is personally invested in what happened to Mr. Tumnus, Peter is not. He’s preparing to get his family safely back through the wardrobe when Mr. Beaver shows up. Warned about the trees, they reluctantly follow Mr. Beaver back to his house where he and the missus explain the perpetual winter and the prophecy.

Note: If the external forces had stopped here, the Pevensies would’ve had no reason to stay in Narina. They’ve learned about the prophecy, but they have no personal motivation to help fulfill it… Until…

Character Decision: Edmund—motivated by Turkish Delight and his underlying need for approval—sneaks away to see the White Witch. His decision serves as the Outside Force that shoves his siblings on their journey to find Aslan and thereby save Edmund’s life (Decision).

EXAMPLE 3: The Lord of the Rings

Character Status Quo: Enjoying a simple life in the Shire. Avoiding adventure. Outside Force (External Events): Frodo inherits the ring of power and Ring Wraiths are headed their way. Character Decision: Deliver the ring to Rivendale in the hopes of dumping the dreaded relic on the elves.

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EXAMPLE 4: Star Wars: A New Hope

Character Status Quo: Working for his Uncle. Apathy regarding the Empire. Outside Force (External Events): By chance, Luke’s uncle purchases the very droids the Empire is seeking, Luke discovers Leia’s hidden message, and his Aunt and Uncle are murdered. Character Decision: Go with Obi-wan, learn the ways of the force, “and become a Jedi like my father” (but not too much like his father, we hope).

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Final Thoughts

So, a heroine at rest tends to stay at rest—indulging the same old habits and plodding along in the same direction as before—until derailed by an outside force. That force is external, personal to the protagonist, and eventually leads to the key decision that cements her new course.

What do you think? In your own WIP, what external force of change begins your hero’s journey? What about the protagonist in your favorite novel? Can you think of any stories that don’t meet these qualifications? For a chance to win a 2500-word critique or an e-copy of Weiland’s book Structuring Your Novel, simply join the discussion below (and drop your email here for the draw.)

Come back next week to peruse the next article in this series: Story Physics, Part 2: How a character’s internal change mirrors Newton’s second law.