Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Obama's Health Care Plan


I don't know the source of this humor, so my apologies to whomever.

Here are the various opinions doctos have on Obama's health care plan.

  • The Allergists voted to scratch it.
  • The Dermatologists advised not to make any rash moves.
  • The Gastroenterologists had a sort of gut feeling about it.
  • The Neurologists thought the Obama administration had a lot of nerve.
  • The Obstetricians felt they were all laboring under a misconception.
  • The Ophtamologists considered the idea shortsighted.
  • The Optometrists demanded a closer look.
  • The Surgeons wanted to wash their hands of the whole thing.
  • The Podiatrists thought it was a step backward.
  • The Orthopedists thought things were being stretched too far.
  • The Orthodontists were eager to straighten out the liberals in Congress
  • The Plastic Surgeons wanted to put a whole new face on the matter.
  • The Psychiatrists thought the whole idea was madness
  • The Pathologists screamed "Oveler my dead body!"
  • The Cardiologists didn't have the heart to say no.
  • But the Urologists felt the plan wouldn't hold water.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Basics of a Novel

by Tom Mach

© 2009

I’ve research different writers about the process of writing a novel, and while they tend to give different perspectives, they also show two things in common: (1) the characters must appear to be flesh-and-blood real to the reader, and (2) there must be a reasonable structure to the novel. Since characterization requires a details discussion by and of itself, let me first talk about structure.

It may be obvious to you if I say that a good novel has a beginning, a middle, and an end. What is less obvious is what do we expect to happen in those three major sections? The beginning of the novel has too do some highly important tasks. It must create an interesting beginning where the character is faced with a significant problem. This character has a goal of some sort—perhaps avoiding getting caught, trying to solve a crime, wanting something someone else has, trying to prevent someone from taking what she has, etc. As that character strives to attain that goal, she begins to run into an obstacle. This beginning part of the novel has to do a good job in making the problem real and in making you either root for the character to succeed or (if the character is a villain) to be deeply interested in learning how the character will eventually be caught.

The middle part of the novel now gets into the failed attempts of the main character to attain his goal or solve his problem. When she tries one thing, something worse happens. When she tries another, something even more challenging happens. She finally comes to what some authors refer to either a “dark moment” or “climax” when things look their darkest and something has to change. She needs to solve that problem or attain that goal somehow. But she might do this by deciding that she doesn’t want that goal or doesn’t want that problem solved. It’s not an instantaneous revelation where she wakes up and decides this. Circumstances evolve that convince her to make a change in direction.

All the while, the character is changing his perspective. The end of the novel shows how the character has changed and how a new course of action is now possible. I like to think of this as the “resolution” of the novel. While some loose things have to be tidied up, the character doesn’t necessarily have a picture-perfect happy ending. In fact, you as a novelist don’t want to give her a picture-perfect ending. But at least give her hope. I’ve done this in my novel All Parts Together where my main character, Jessica, is devastated because she’s lost the true love of her life, her book won’t be published, her hero (Abraham Lincoln) was assassinated, and there doesn’t seem to be much in life that will interest her. But there’s a knock on door. A lady wants to invited her to an important meeting. This will mark a new departure in Jessica’s life, and that departure will be fully revealed in my third novel in the series.

Character development, in my opinion, is as important as plot development. When we think of the great novels of the past that we’ve read, we think of the characters. For instance, anyone who has ever read Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind is so familiar with Scarlet O’Hara she has become a real person. You experience her foolish pain in trying to capture Ashley Wilkes’ heart only to find her true love, Rhett Butler, who ultimately leaves her. Creating a character is not simply giving that character a name and adding a few physical descriptions. You need to get into that person’s heart and soul and look through the eyes of that person and experience the things they experience. You need to know this person’s background and ambitions so well that you could predict how they would react in particular situations. Sara Toby’s desperation for money leading her to prostitution in my novel All Parts Together, is not altogether surprising. She had always been inspired to be an actress and felt she could act her way through being a harlot. And while she once loved her husband Roger, she learned of his unfaithfulness so she was able to justify her own unfaithfulness as well. But it wasn’t easy for her as she held a high opinion of herself as a churchgoing woman. The conflict in her soul was almost unbearable.