Category Archives: writing

More Marvel’s Marvelous Character Wounds

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I couldn’t do a Marvel Character Wound analysis of Guardians of the Galaxy and not go back and take a look at the fabulous festering wounds of The Avengers. Every single one of them is such wounded, anguished soul. I’ve seen some incredible, deep analysis of this movie so I won’t go into how all of this relates to the epic plot set forth by the ever-amazing Joss Whedon, but I do want to stay with the theme of character’s wounds. Those deep character sores are what give this movie its emotional layers and the meat that drives the plot forward. They are integral to each other. Without these wounds, the Avengers would be just another “blow ‘em up, big 3D-CGI-IMAX so loud and annoying you want to shoot yourself” fest like Transformers. Forgive me if you’re a fan. I never really saw the fascination.

So let’s us look:

Black Widow:

  • Motivation to the “Call”: she’s actively working as an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. and believes in the job, but returns to home base because of loyalty to Clint Barton aka Hawkeye (She’s used to the job as a spy, follows the mission and her orders, it’s all she’s ever known.) But, she owes Clint a debt––he saved her life after he was sent to assassinate her. “You lie and kill in the service of liars and killers, and you pretend to have your own code to make up for what you are and what they make you do.”
  • Wound: She’s a spy and a killer which she refers to as having “red in her ledger” which we can assume means blood on her as ala Lady Macbeth “out damn spot”. This killer however is afraid of the Hulk because he can’t be mind controlled, her specialty. She holds no power over him.
  • Skills: she’s a manipulator, uses her “pretend” vulnerability and weakness to trick men. In this way, she’s a reflection of Loki’s tricks, and manipulation.
  • Overcoming the wound: she listens to Clint, once she’s knocked some sense back into him and gets back on her horse for the greater purpose. She knows that working with these guys is for the greater good and will automatically help her redeem all that “red”. She is the one to push the mind control stick into the portal device which reflects back to she use mind control to overcome the bad thing.

Hawkeye:

  • Motivation to the “Call”: he was taken as a puppet for the bad guy who used his skills to hurt people. We don’t get much more than that until he’s reunited with Black Widow. He calls her by her nick name which automatically links her to him in a more personal manner than she has with the rest and solidifies their bond.
  • Wound: he felt violated because Loki was in his head and he hurt people against his will. I assume in the next one we’ll get more of a look into who he really is. During this one, he’s little more than a sniper in a perch and a motivation for Romanov.
  • Skills: strategy, eye for detail, logistics, extremely talented sharp shooter. Quick and efficient
  • Overcoming the wound: he is now working with his partner, getting over the mind control and redeeming himself by saving people

Dr. Banner/Hulk:

  • Motivation to the “Call”: he’s manipulated by Natasha to believe that he’s been asked because he’s the most preeminent expert on gamma radiation (He thought gamma radiation would be the key to unlocking the formula the super soldier serum that made Cap, but ultimately turned him into the Hulk.) His cynicism make him believe that S.H.I.E.L.D. is hiding stuff because why wouldn’t they bring in Tony Stark for the “clean energy” they’re working on.
  • Wound: He’s afraid to be the hulk because he causes damage and hurts people without meaning to. He doesn’t like this this is his own causing. He feels exposed like a “raw nerve”.
  • Skills: science and rationality, as Dr. Banner; brute strength as hulk
  • Overcoming the wound: he realizes that it doesn’t matter because he’s always angry and that constant state of anger can be controlled if he tries. He needs to help people by destroying the bad guys

 

Captain America:

  • Motivation to the “Call”: he’s a soldier and it’s his duty. (Plus he’s got nothing better to do since he’s been frozen for the last seventy years)  A soldier is all he’s ever wanted to be. His greatest desire was to be in service his country and fight against the evil of Hitler, against oppression.
  • Wound: he feels old-fashioned. He’s a man out of time, an anachronism, upset that the world has changed so much that he doesn’t recognize humanity anymore, that there is no unity, no loyalty and we’ve become a version of the evil he once fought against. He believes that the Tesseract should have been left in the ocean because it is too dangerous.
  • Skills: super strength, extreme honor. Military skills, tactical and a great leader. The shield protects him from many assaults/weapons, used as a protection device and a tool. It’s an extension of his fighting skill and body.

 

Iron Man:

  • Motivation to the “Call”: He goes because they need his expertise and to prove he was right. He’s working on getting out of the war making business, and into the energy business, snd he’s a little upset that the Avenger Initiative was scrapped because of his personality (volatile and self-obsessed) He questions Fury’s motives and  doesn’t like that Fury doesn’t tell them everything, he keeps secrets.
  • Wound: his ego is huge and needs to be stroked. He’s more than a “billionaire, genius, philanthropist”. He is selfish and questions authority. He needs to know everything and be right. His sarcasm is his deflection.
  • Skills: strength, power, genius, fires lasers, variety of techno weapons and flying, has Jarvis as backup and navigation
  • Overcoming the wound: he gets the group to see that there is more to the picture and this causes conflict but then rallies and works with them after Phil is killed. He wants to avenge. He’s angered when he sees a bit of himself in Loki and knows exactly how it needs to be stopped. He gives the ultimate sacrifice by flying the nuke up to the portal and sending it to the Chitauri mothership. He doesn’t even get to say goodbye to the woman he loves.

 

Thor:

  • Motivation to the “Call”: he’s there to retrieve his brother. He loves his brother. Believes Loki is going after earth to get back at him (he’s right). Earth is under his protection. But Loki believes that human need to be ruled because they are chaotic and kill themselves. He wants Loki to face Asgardian justice for his crimes.
  • Wound: he wants to protect humanity, and his love, Jane Foster, on earth, but part of him believes that he’ll only bring danger to humanity. His family bickering has already caused such problems. He embarrassed by his family’s dirty laundry.
  • Skills: super strength, hammer is indestructible that only he can wield, the hammer allows him  fly and summon thunder and lightening. Its an extension of his body and fighting skill.
  • Overcoming the wound: he realizes he has to fight here on Earth in order to protect humanity. He cannot protect from afar.

 

Loki:

  • Villainous motivations: wants to rule earth, Odin (father) and Thor’s (brother) favorite people, to get back at them for his perceived slights.
  • Wound: He wants approval from his father and to hurt Thor because he’s in the shadow of his brother’s greatness. Believes he was betrayed by Odin and deserves to rule. His deal is to get the Tesseract, control the Chitaruri army to take over Earth and then give the Tesseract to Thanos. His self-importance makes him believe he is above humans. And he will manipulate and use any means to get what he wants. He needs the scientist and the Tesseract to create a stronger more stable portal to get the army to New York.
  • Skills: master of words, manipulations illusions and tricks, super strength, holds a Chitauri weapon that creates mind control over humans with the essence of the Tesseract

 

Now, the two “regular” humans play a major part, as well. While they may not have superpowers, they are pretty damn important:

 

Director Fury: he is the visionary and pragmatist. He believes in the Avengers as the answer to save Earth, but he also believes that the Tesseract is needed to give them weapons to combat much greater foes. Now that humanity knows there are aliens from other worlds (because of the appearance of Thor), and now that Loki has returned as a threat to crush humanity, it’s proven him right. He believes they are at war. “Hopelessly, hilariously outgunned, the world is filling up with people who can’t be matched”, and as Thor states: “Earth is ready for a higher form of war.”

Phil Coulson: he represents humanity, the everyman. He’s the company man that follows S.H.I.E.L.D.’s directives without question. He believes in what he does and that the world will be a better place because of the Avengers. What’s great about him is that he’s interacted with all of them in one way or another. Most predominantly, he’s friendly with Tony Stark, able to manage Romanov, and awestruck by Captain America. There’s an innocent hero worship in his regard for Steve Rodgers. His eyes light up like a child’s when he gets to finally speak with his hero, and boldly asks for Rodger’s autograph on his trading cards. It’s his death that Fury uses to unit the arguing Avengers to a higher purpose.

 

I love the depth of each of them. I’ve watched the movie over and over to study the brilliance of Joss’s writing and the nuances of the character dynamic. I cannot wait until Avengers 2 is out when we get to scratch deeper into the wounds. I can’t even predict where he’ll go, but I’m willing to bet it’s amazing.

 

 

 

Marvel’s Marvelous Character Wounds

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Them more I watch the Marvel Cinematic Universe the more I learn about writing. The characters in this massively epic franchise are so fascinating. They have such depth underneath their seemingly shiny and comic exteriors. Each one has personal demons that need to be faced. Each one of them has a “wound”. The wound is the one thing the character can’t escape from. The one thing their superpowers or abilities can’t control over overcome. The wound is a tear on their psyche. It’s what makes them human and being human means being vulnerable.

I’ve always struggled with conflict, in my personal life and in my writing. We all have a tendency to want everything to be good and happy and perfect. But unfortunately perfect people don’t exist anywhere, nor do they make for good fiction. Sure stories are about plot and what happens. But, if the characters suck, then who cares. I once turned away from a movie because I wished the tunnel collapsed on all of the people trapped in it because they were all too annoying to live. I didn’t care. It was one of those disaster movies from the 90s and I think Sylvester Stallone was in it. (Don’t get me wrong. Sly Stallone has some cool gems in his acting pocket. The Expendables movies are sheer marketing brilliance and fun. And all of those crusty old guys have wounds––even if it’s their realization that they’re too old for this shit––so it makes it even more fun to watch).

I was discussing the latest Marvel awesome fest with my crit partner Renn and she asked what I loved about it. The story (i.e. plot) is cool, as most adventures are. They go after a MacGuffin for selfish reasons, fight some guys who also want it, have a big battle and become heroes in the process. It’s not that they all of a sudden decide, “Today I care about something other than myself and I want to be a hero.” It’s because their wounds ache for them to overcome it. And that’s why they become heroes.

The cast of misfits:

Peter Quill, aka Star Lord, is the de facto leader. His mother died of cancer when he was eight and he was immediately abducted by a space ship and raised by the pirate/scavenger, Yondu, who took him. Turns out there’s a secret about Peter’s heritage that even he didn’t know. I’m sure we’ll find out what that is in the next movie. (Abandonment issues, forced to look out for himself. Deflects with sarcasm)

Rocket Raccoon, is a bounty hunter/mercenary. He’s self conscious about the fact that everyone thinks he’s a dumb rodent, but he’s really a mechanical genius which most likely is because he was the result of a genetic and cybernetic experiment gone awry and he’s the only one of his kind. (Feels alone in the universe, deflects with extreme sarcasm)

The humanoid tree, Groot, is Rocket’s guardian and only friend. He only speaks 3 words, just with different inflections. “I am Groot”. Somehow Rocket understands this weird language and you can liken it to the way Han understood Chewie’s weird growls that all sounded the same to us. Groot is the only one of the group who is truly an innocent without any darkness in his soul.

Drax the Destoyer is a warrior whose entire family was killed by Ronan the Accuser (the Bad Guy) and his vow to seek revenge has consumed his every move since then. He’s incredibly literal and it often makes for miscommunication between others. He comes to respect and care for his new allies naming them as friends. (Lost everything that was dear to him)

Gamora was adopted by the Bigger Bad, Thanos, along with her sister Nebula. They were abused and experimented on as children. Gamora turned into an assassin. She is first allied with Ronan, but once she realizes his intentions to wipe out entire planets, she betrays him and goes to steal the orb herself to sell it to a secret buyer. (Jaded and righteous, needs to atone for her evil deeds)

Nebula, the more tragic of the two sisters is the bad girl. Thanos made her into a cyborg. She does everything to get back at Gamora and Thanos because Daddy Thanos loved Gamora more (He flat out says she was his favorite daughter). Nebula becomes incredibly loyal to Ronan but it seems he has no idea because he, like Drax is consumed with revenge. (Daddy issues and sibling rivalry)

Ronan the Accuser is a very powerful Kree and a religious fanatic hell-bent on destroying his mortal enemies. He only sees things as black and white. He ignores the treaty set up between the Kree Empire and the Xandarians and sets out to annihilate them with the Power Infinity Stone, which he had agreed to give to Thanos when he was done with it. However he betrays him stating that he’ll kill Thanos too. (Religious zealot who probably was indoctrinated and now only sees life through the lens of intolerance and hate)

All of their wounds come out at some point and inform the action. Each one does something that turns the plot until they come together not out of necessity but out of a true sense of believing in each other and acceptance. Ronan and Nebula, well they’re the bad guys, so they don’t but they confront some of their issues towards the end, as well. I fully expect to see both of them again so I don’t think we’re quite done exploring what their wound arcs truly are.

It’s good stuff. See the movie for fun. Peel back the layers if you chose. If you don’t, just go to see a great movie, but Marvel’s doing it right. I can only strive to be so brilliant.

Overwatch Update

For like the two of you who have been waiting with bated breath about the status of Overwatch, you’re gonna have to wait a little while longer. Book 1: Proving Ground is essentially done. Yay, but Book 2: Exfil Point, ooofah… It’s in a major rewrite.

Nooooo!

Yup.

Exfil Point, after the mandatory fermenting period, SUCKS FESTERING MONEKY ASS. It needs a complete overhaul. I guess that’s what happens when you try to splice two attempts to start a book into one mash-up and fingers crossed, hope it works out. The only, and I mean ONLY, people who are good at mash-ups are the song stylists at Glee. They are the masters of it. Me? Not so much. While it seemed like it was a good plan and that things flowed while in the midst of a summer induced haze of long days of just writing and drinking and more writing, it didn’t fit together as much as I had thought. So it’s back to the drawing board for me.

I axed almost 10k words from the end. Shaved it off like a Russian woman’s armpits. The emotional content was limp, trite and I had already addressed the issues in it with a whole chapter insert about 6k words before. So chop went the blade. Then I reread it again from the beginning. And started hacking away at the stuff that sounded good but again wound up being forced and trite. Chop, chop. Pretty soon this thing started to look like an anorexic supermodel with a bad hair day. Good thing though? It had a great bone structure. The elements were there. Girl’s living in Boy’s house, pretending they don’t want to just sleep with each other and abstaining for the greater good of the world. They have a deep understanding and friendship that gets tested when they open Pandora’s box. (That Bitch Pandora should just keep her damn legs closed and save everyone from the trouble of her minefield of a box! and if you’re not getting the box reference, please go check it out at urbandictionary.com) Things gets dicey in relation to their relations and decisions are made that effect the incidents in Book 3: Cold War. The romance stuff I had all down. I knew where I wanted to go, knew how I wanted it to end, shocked myself a little bit with how far I went with it, but it’s good. Now that it’s bald and a skeleton.

What it needs is some meat. The meat of the Mission that is – they are Spec Ops soldiers and spies after all. Enter the action plot. Oh the goddamn mission… Bane of my existence. And I kick myself all the time for wanting to write love stories about awesome action figure super spies and soldiers because seriously, who gives a shit about them if we never see them at work? Otherwise they should be dog groomers and let call it a day. So I struggle…

I’m not sure if it’s because I live a ‘do unto others’ kind of existence. I try to live fair and equitable and don’t treat people cruelly  but I have a really hard time coming up with motives for bad guys to do bad things with. If I have a beef with someone who wronged me, I cut you off my Christmas card list and de-friend you on Facebook while you’re not looking. I don’t plot world domination and human traffic your sister and her best-friend’s cousin to get back at you. Therefore, I struggle with believable plots that would bring my sexy heroes and heroines out into the big bad world. Because again, who wants to read about kick ass spies if we neve see them at work?

How have a I fixed this problem? Ugh. I’m reading news articles and blogs from around the troubled hotspots of the world. Very depressing, man’s inhumanity to man. We are a disgusting species. The Earth has every right to rebel and get us fuckers off the planet. I’ve found some pretty disturbing things with regards to the undercurrent of terrorism and the battle to establish a foothold in Africa.

But you know what else this whole devastation of the horrid mash-up has done to me? I’ve become a plotster. Gasp! Swoon and sigh. I never used to have to plan. WTF? I used to pull rainbows and sunshine out of my ass and it was fabulous. Yeah, well that was fanfiction. And fanfiction while a great proving ground for confidence that maybe your ability to write doesn’t suck that bad after all, it’s not all that intolerant of dangling plot threads and meandering experiments with slice of life prose. It’s shit we wish we saw on our favorite television shows, but just didn’t make the cannon cut. In publishable fiction, it’s unacceptable to not have a plan. To not have a mid-point that doesn’t sag, and a dark moment that doesn’t actually give you the feeling that all will never be right again. Who am I using these terms? It’s like the moment you realize you have to actually send 95% of your paycheck to pay bills and that you’ve become a grown up. For the most part I’ve done this instinctually. But now, with these freaking missions… instinct isn’t going to cut it anymore.

This stretches my timeline out exponentially. I’ve got other series in the works that are begging to be written, one of which is a sequel series to Overwatch, another is a Sci-Fi Romance series. Not that I want to say goodbye to David and Jillie, but I want to publish this bitch and move on. Patience is not always my strong suit.

Alas, I will endeavor to try.

~Indigo

WIP: Proving Ground Update

Proving Ground is close, oh so very close, to being ready to e-format and publish on Amazon. It has been scoured and polished by my fantastic critique partners, Karen and Amy and beta read by Jes and Stella. (They totally get my vision!!) I’ve had nothing but good constructive criticism and positive responses. Dearest Stella said she even had some tears in her eyes, in a good way of course, and that just makes me want to get drunk on mojitos and dance on tables. No, not really, I want to be badass, but I’m so not! But it does mean a lot that both Jes and Stella have had such an emotional response to Jillie and David. My book is way better because of these ladies and I owe them tremendous thanks for their efforts.

It’s been a long road for this book in it’s various incarnations but I have a clear plan in sight now. It’s an epic love story now that will span five books. I’m currently in Book 2: Exfil Point and working diligently to beef up and clean up the plot. Yeah it seems long. Five books you say? Well… Look at it this way––How many times have you watched a movie or been involved in a book and want to know what happens after the book ends? How many of you want to see how after all their stuggles to get together they actually ARE together? What happens when the lights go out and everyone goes home? Well, that’s what will happen in the Overwatch Series. Each book is another episode into Jillie and David’s relationship and their evolution from colleagues to friends to deep and ever-lasting love.
So I need a blurb. One that lets you know it’s the never-ending story, but also gets you intrigued by Jillie and David enough to follow them into the great unknown.
Here’s what I have come up with so far:
The last thing Colonel David Vaughn needed on his anti-terrorist task force was another beautiful badass woman. They were his weakness. He had a job to do.
Burned CIA agent, Jillian Craig didn’t want back into the game. But there was only so much sun, designer shoes and hunky Mediterranean men a girl could take.
When a mutual interest brings them together to fight the war on terror, it’s no surprise––sparks fly. Can the two ignore their attraction or is the personal sacrifice too much?
The Overwatch Series follows the epic love story of David and Jillian as they try to balance duty, desire and self-sacrifice to protect the world from terror.
Book One: Proving Ground. See how it all begins.

Feel free to chime in and let me know what you think. Too much? Too little? Too cheesy? Never want to be cheesy… Discuss.

I’m going to post an excerpt of Proving Ground, Chapter 1 soon. I’m also putting my actual professional skills to use and working on a cover(s). I’m torn between paying for the royalty-free image rights for some images, which is a couple hundred dollars vs. working in Poser (a 3D art program where I can make Jillie and David actually look like I see them in my head) Too cool, but WAY more time consuming, considering I’m still learning how to use the program. But, that could also be a couple hundred dollars if I want to use pre-existing morphs to build my characters because that wold make them look badass. And you know me and badass. Since my wallet is decidedly NOT badass, I’m waiting on that issue until the cover is the very last thing that needs to be done.

See you soon,
~Indigo

Guest Post: Stella MT

Here’s a guest post from my friend and sometimes critique partner (when she’s not working on her doctoral program – sheesh, can’t she just find a few hours to squeeze little old me in?) Stella MT from The Great Big Jump. She’s been a great supporter of this blog and has some wise “You go girl” insights. I’m honored that she wanted to dabble in the badassery and examine when some femme characters fall short of that right. But, she changed her mind midstream and this is what she came up with. Please enjoy!


Stella MT’s Post:
Originally, I had set out to write a funny article about network TV procedurals and their lack of convincingly bad-ass female characters, which could be attributed to several different factors that affect TV and film writing in general. I had it all planned out: who to snark on, who to blame, what could have been.

Then the news of Nora Ephron’s death broke out all over the Internet.

I admit that, outside of her most popular movies (When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, even You’ve Got Mail and Julie and Julia), I’ve never really considered Nora Ephron as a “girl power” icon; all I know is that she’s a superb writer with a lifetime’s worth of snappy anecdotes to share, and I wish I had been able to truly develop my appreciation of her work before she passed away.

And yet, as the news of her passing flooded my timeline on Twitter, I found myself reading Ephron’s commencement speech at Wellesley College in 1996, where she spoke as an alumna of the school:

Many of my classmates did exactly what they were supposed to when they graduated from Wellesley, and some of them, by the way, lived happily ever after. But many of them didn’t. All sorts of things happened that no one expected. […] The women’s movement came along and made harsh value judgments about their lives—judgments that caught them by surprise, because they were doing what they were supposed to be doing, weren’t they? The rules had changed, they were caught in some kind of strange time warp. They had never intended to be the heroines of their own lives, they’d intended to be—what?—First Ladies, I guess, first ladies in the lives of big men. They ended up feeling like victims. They ended up, and this is really sad, thinking that their years in college were the best years of their lives.




What does this passage have to do with good writing? 

Put it simply, a good story often begins with the choice that must be made by a character in response to an unexpected and difficult situation.  In the case of most female protagonists, the “unexpected” could be as simple as a bad breakup (see: Rachel Green in Friends and Jess Day in New Girl) or as overwhelming as working for an office that might as well be a frat house (see also: Brenda Lee Johnson in The Closer and Ziva David in NCIS).  These moments are filled with the realization that things will never be the way it used to be: all of the sudden, there’s no going back to the old house, the previous branch, the trust that was broken by that lying piece of shit.  Survival, in one form or another, becomes the name of the game.


And yet, not all female protagonists get to become heroines in their own stories.

I look again at all the characters I set out to mock, and it becomes clear to me that they were intended to be strong and sexy in their own way: handy with a gun, easy on the eyes, tough enough to turn the tables on a perp yet sensitive enough to do everything they can for the ones they truly love, be it their messed-up families or the team of crime-fighters in their squad. Yet, as time went on, I found that they’ve only become less compelling as time went on: sure, it may be “realistic” to show our heroines not getting their way, but does it always have to happen on a regular basis? It’s already bad enough to be stonewalled by bureaucrats and left in the dark by lovers and family members… but do they also have to be tortured by psychos every other season, too?


It’s as if the creators of their respective shows are trying to tell us, over and over again, that any woman who chooses to take the bad guys down has chosen a life of martyrdom. Choose that journey, they say, and you will be doomed to a lifetime of trust issues, bad sex, substance abuse, and abandonment from nearly every single person that you’ve ever loved. You may be strong enough for this, they’ll say, but you’ll never be a hero… not even to your own self.

 

In a way, characters like these are marks of lazy storytelling – and the writers are partly at fault for the inconsistency – but, from my point of view, the repercussions may be more serious than we think. At a time when the entertainment industry has gone completely global, these shows are now shown all over the world, in different cycles, and in every possible language. And not only that, but there is a major chance that these shows – and stories – are being watched, right now, by viewers in countries where women don’t have the same rights and privileges that we have in our comfortable corners of the world.

Is this the message we want to send to the rest of the world: that, even in a democracy, there is no point for an educated woman to stand up and lead the charge against injustice? Is it fair for everyone else to think that the only stories we have to tell about our women – all women – are the ones where they have to do only what is expected, if they want to survive without being victimized?

http://kidculture.wordpress.com/2012/03/08/the-best-countries-for-women-girls/

I don’t know about you, but I’d like to think that a true heroine would never choose to live her life like this.


A true heroine, in my opinion, does not need to blame “the system” for her lack of initiative. She doesn’t have to dress up and go to work: she chooses to dress up and go to work, every day, because choosing otherwise would only make her more restless. She doesn’t always make the best decisions, but she takes responsibility for all of them, and finds a little humor in every situation. She may have to work a little harder to get some respect, but she will earn it – win or lose – and the guys in the office better recognize if they knew what’s best for them. 
And while it may be possible for her to “have it all” – good looks, great job, wicked skills, maybe a family and/or a nice house – a true heroine knows where the reallines are drawn in the first place. Cute shoes are a luxury, the right connections are a privilege… but truth, love, justice, peace of mind? Those are non-negotiable rights, and our heroine will fight for them, to the bitter end.

Which then brings us, once again, to Nora Ephron, and her message to the Class of ’96 at Wellesley:

Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim. Because you don’t have the alibi my class had—this is one of the great achievements and mixed blessings you inherit: Unlike us, you can’t say nobody told you there were other options. […] Did I say it was hard? Yes, but let me say it again so that none of you can ever say the words, nobody said it was so hard. But it’s also incredibly interesting. You are so lucky to have that life as an option.


Right or wrong – and regardless of who gets to run “the show” – a true heroine gets to choose her own destiny. And that is always a story worth telling, for all time. 

~Stella

Pocket Guide Cnt’d, Inside the Colonel’s Trousers

Last time we looked at what was inside Jillian’s pockets/purse/tactical gear. It was an strange amalgamation of girlie things, useful trade craft and incendiary devices. It spoke to her dual personality and double life. The two women inside that make up her whole. Warrior and woman.

This time, we’ll stick our hand into Colonel David Vaughn’s pants… ahem, I mean pockets. Go ahead, give his ass a quick squeeze and move on….

He’s an Air Force Colonel who’s spent the majority of his life in uniform, in the field. He has very little need for extras. So when David empties his pockets on the nightstand at the end of the day, he takes out a slim black leather wallet. Not too old, not too new, softly worn in. Inside he has his Air Force ID, his driver’s license, his debit card, and American Express. He carries $100 in cash, in twenties and he will empty his coins into a large glass mug every day. He keeps his keys on a simple ring, silver metal with a plain tab. One for his house, one for his truck, one for Ops – it also has a punch-in code – and later on in the series, one for Jillian’s house. He does not carry one for the other team members, Marcus or Bobby D. Hmm… Just sayin’.

His tact-vest is another story. He lives in that vest, survives by it. The site I gave last time:

http://thedonovan.com/archives/modernwarriorload/ModernWarriorsCombatLoadReport.pdf

It lists what soldiers of different unit designations would need. David’s would be the Rifle Squad Leader. He would have the standard fare of grenades, extra ammo, tools, goggles, strobe lights, GPS and SAT phone to connect back to Ops. He packs a Leatherman tool, which is like a Swiss Army knife on steroids and a Maglite flashlight, crazy bright. Get one. The small one still casts a ton of light. (They’re the ones the Scully and Mulder used to hold in their hands when entering all of those dark rooms.) He maintains a small amount a non-tactical items in his crowded yet, available pouches. A deck of cards, wooden matches, and American gum – he was the one that gave Jillian the idea because the local children would always ask. He carries extra tablets of Vicodin that he keeps secret from Bobby D, the team medic, for his creaky aching knees. He used to carry a chocolate bar for Jillian, but it gets too hot and melts so he now carries a few packets of dry hot cocoa. It’s a survival tactic – when the woman needs chocolate, no one is safe.

He also keeps a bandana tied to his strap and a roll of duct tape in his pack. He wears a dingy old khaki baseball cap when on missions and not in regulation Air Force uniform (Spec Ops soldiers often wear non-standard cammo and foreign guns to perpetuate their “non-allegiance” with the US Forces – sometimes called False-Flag operations.) He wears a pair of dark square, aviator shades, with a strap around back to keep from losing them when it gets physical. Jillian loves them because they’re sexy but hates them because she can’t see his eyes.

BTW, Vaughn doesn’t look like Joshua Dumel

Special Operators don’t carry identification or any type of personal trinkets and memorabilia. One, they are ‘invisible’ and work in non-sanctioned missions. Two, those items can be traced back to their families. And three, it creates ‘bad juju’.  While some may think of it as a good luck token, for them it creates bad luck. (I got this off of an episode of the Unit. It may be fictionalized, but it made sense to me). The premise being that the item reminds them of their family back home, makes them careful and therefore unfocused. None of Vaughn’s stuff can help identify him, but it’s personal nonetheless.

So, what does his stuff say about him? Well, he’s a pretty simple guy. Doesn’t need a lot of things to add style or flare – plain wallet, plain keychain. He likes to be nondescript, professionally and personally. He’s practical. The items in his pack are for use. They all have a purpose. When carrying a 50lb rucksack through the rough terrain of Afghanistan or the jungles of South America, you need only the bare essentials to keep you alive. There is no room for amenities. It’s all about what the job needs, survival and life or death.

There a two things there that have to do with Jillian. One is her key on his key chain. They are not lovers at the point in which she gives him a key but, it means that he has free access to her home. She trusts him and he has an open invitation. The other is the hot cocoa. Why would the Colonel, the team leader, carry sustenance for a team member? My point exactly. She’s more than just a team member to him. He sees her differently, despite his denials to the contrary. He cares for her and comforts her. There’s always a small percentage of his brainpower focused on her and her needs. Why? Because he’s in love with her of course!

Each and every person has quirks about what they carry with them. Some more telling than others. It’s our job as authors and observers of human behavior to recognize those small details. They are clues to personality, to our character development. They add nuances and depth. Of course, use these snippets wisely. Never be contrived when frosting your character cake. Be subtle. Like a good perfume, a little goes a LONG way!

Happy observing!
~Indigo Grace

Chuck Wendig, Guru

Found this on my favorite writing advice/all things awesome blog today. Truer words cannot have been spoken.

http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2012/06/06/the-secret-to-writing/comment-page-1/#comment-152159

Chuck gives it to ya straight, with a bitch slap for good measure. 
Get over yourself and just do it!
~Indigo