Monday, January 5, 2009
Three Cheers for ROUTINE
Whew! For the first day in many days, my life has returned to a routine. The last of my far-flung children and grandchildren caught a flight out this morning at 5 a.m., and I'm back at my desk, catching up on the holiday's accumulation of work. (Although, I have a feeling I'll still be stepping on the toy pieces left behind by my grandkids for months to come!)
This year's holiday season didn't fit the "norm" (do they ever?). We didn't even decorate our Christmas tree until December 26th. And we didn't exchange gifts until New Year's Day, but when twelve of us Downes gathered in our home to celebrate the holidays, it still felt like Christmas, regardless of what date appeared on the calendar. Over the extended holiday weekend, we watched old family videos of our years in Korea, engaged in a battle of the sexes in our annual Cranium competition (as always, the females won!), played in the snow, ate lots and lots of good food, made lots of messses, and generally enjoyed each other's company.
But a mother can only take so much chaos. As much as I love my family, it is nice to see a return to normalcy.
Don't get me wrong. There's still plenty of action going on around here. I'm not sitting around and twiddling my thumbs. But life has resumed its familiar chaos.
I've read conflicting arguments by writing experts as to whether or not a story's action should keep up a frantic pace throughout the book. Donald Maass recommends never letting up on the action, while others advise letting the reader take a breather from the high intensity every now and then. My personal preference is for stories to keep the action going--don't ever let up on the gas. However, that doesn't mean the characters can't return to a place of routine in the story.
Sometimes a glimpse into the character's routine, life prior to the heat of the story's battle, can give the reader insight into the character that we might not know otherwise. Skillfully used, a return to normalcy and routine for your character can replace the need for backstory and still reveal a character's nature, issues, and growth areas.
Who knows, my life may slow down to a point that I can take down the Christmas decorations before Easter rolls around! Here's to a healthy and happy 2009 for all you Edit Cafe readers and Barbour authors!
Editor Du Jour Susan