Category Archives: Storytelling

Scrooged Stories Redeem Our Writing

Scrooged Stories are the writer’s ideal holiday gift, because they come with Scrooged storytelling and the Bountiful Writing that can result from opening this particular package all the way into your creative heart. The result for Charles Dickens was his fabulous and fabled A Christmas Carol which has turned out to be one of the best known and most popular stories in the English language. You can wrap some of that and gift it to me anytime, and I don’t believe I know a single writer, or reader either, who wouldn’t feel the same. Scrooged Stories are pay dirt and pop chart dirt too. So, what can Charles and Ebenezer teach us about how to get a dusting of that magic on our own storytelling shoes?

I imagine most of us are familiar with the narrative theme, “How the Mighty Have Fallen.” Some of us, including me, have even written those stories. A Christmas Carol, the ultimate among Scrooged Stories, moves beyond the downfall scenario to “How the Mighty Have Fallen Then Been Dragged Back Up Again.” In other words, Scrooged Stories are about Redemption. The best Scrooged Stories are about Dramatic Redemption. Dramatic, because of the depth of the depravity pit into which the central character has plunged himself, usually before we encounter him. Scrooged Stories are, after all, mainly about the Scrooge.

Our prototype, Ebenezer’s personal human depravity has to do with compassion. He doesn’t have any, not any we can readily discern from his perpetually scowling face and stingy, heartless behavior. Worse still, he is pleased to be exactly what he is and regards the caring world as, in a word, a humbug. Redeeming this dude won’t be easy. But then, that’s what makes Scrooged Stories so reader appealing. The more irredeemable the character is, the more dramatic the story will be. And drama, along with power and intensity, is the wellspring of that pop chart pay dirt I mentioned.

Thus, Ebenezer is the poster boy for those of us who would like to produce Scrooged Stories of our own. He is a deep-down mean, unrepentant character who disdains charity and scoffs at charitable folk, betrays his beloved sister’s wishes by disowning her only son, and all but freezes poor Bob Cratchett out of his threadbare office. Such an extreme character portrayal demands an extreme plot, and well-crafted Scrooged Stories do not disappoint.

Dickens thickens his extreme plot with a ghost. Not a happy, harmless Casper, but a chain-clanking, shrieking, ominous and terrifying horror named Marley, who is dead set (pun intended) upon rattling Ebenezer out of his complacency , into awareness of the doom he inevitable faces, if he doesn’t change his ways.

Thus, the quintessential exemplar of Scrooge Stories presents us, and Ebenezer, with his story goal. He must change. Which is also his story problem, or internal conflict, if you prefer. He does not want to change. He is absolutely committed to his bad old self. Dickens will have to dredge up some mega-dramatic means to so much as capture Ebenezer’s attention, much less motivate him toward metamorphosis.

At which point, my particular favorite of Scrooged Stories gives us more ghosts because, besides being a Redemption Story, A Christmas Carol is a ghost story too. Our heartless (supposedly) hero (sort of) is forced to experience and, even more soul-quaking, to witness what these phantasms have to show him about himself. His past retreat from human feeling. His present cold, solitary, disconnected state and how it affects others. The dark, dire future consequences that await him if he fails to change.

Meanwhile, this Father Christmas of Scrooged Stories, rackets us, and its host of readers, relentlessly forward through Ebenezer’s tumultuous adventures at whirlwind pace, all the way to the most foreboding possibility possible. The grave. We are set up big time for the payoff and the pay dirt. The Redemption of Ebenezer Scrooge.

Once again, Scrooged Stories don’t let us down. We are showered with a bounty of glorious gifts, the most bounteous of which may be the key insight into what make this story as popular as it is. The dramatic contrast of its final act from its initial one. Joy, giddiness, laughter so unrepressed we might think it would break Ebenezer’s stony face. And it does. Which brings us to the most satisfying payoff of all. Magnanimous deeds. Ebenezer scatters goodness, light, and even life in every direction.

Because Scrooged Stories are, at their essence and at their endings, all about satisfaction. A wild, careening ride from the depth of depraved darkness to the light of salvation. The satisfaction of the main character’s life versus death problem. Satisfaction of his hard-won goal. Satisfaction of the author’s goal as well, in the form of many satisfied readers.

Scrooged Stories are the gift Charles Dickens gives us, at the holidays and throughout the year. Each story element brightly wrapped and ready to be transformed by way of your unique imagination into your own Tale of Redemption. Your own addition to the ever-popular pantheon of Scrooged Stories. To which I say, “God Bless Us Every One.”
Alice Orr – http://www.aliceorrbooks.com.

– R|R 

A Time of Fear & LovingAlice’s new novel, including a Scrooge of her own, is A Time of Fear & Loving – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Book 5. Available HERE. You can find all of Alice’s books HERE.

What readers are saying about A Time of Fear & Loving. “Alice Orr is the queen of ramped-up stakes and page-turning suspense.”
“Warning. Don’t read before bed. You won’t want to sleep.”
“The tension in this novel was through the roof.”
“A budding romance that sizzles in the background until it ignites with passion.”
“I never want an Alice Orr book to end.”
“The best one yet, Alice!”

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TAGS – Character Development, Plotting, Dramatic Storytelling

 

 

Giving Thankfuls – Gratitude Season Is Still Here

Giving Thankfuls began when our grandchildren were with us every weekend at our yellow house on Vashon Island. We would hold hands before eating and go around the dining table, which was dinged and battered from years of active kid use. The chairs had been rocked back and forth with vigor so many times that Grandpa Jonathan finally implanted bolts to hold them somewhat intact. At that well-used table, each of us in turn would name what we were thankful for that day. The grandkids always started with thanks for being with us. Jonathan and I always started with thanks for being with them, filled with joy and chair-rocking energy as they were. We’d end with a rousing “Amen,” which our grandson once told us was like hitting “Send” on a computer keyboard. In that happy way, Giving Thankfuls became our mealtime tradition.

The children are older now, and we’re all back on the east coast, where the family originated. Granddaughter is in college, blessedly nearby, and takes Giving Thankfuls for granted when breaking bread with us. Grandson is a high schooler in Massachusetts and no longer rocks his chair at dinnertime, but is still into Giving Thankfuls. Jonathan and I are a twosome most of the time, but haven’t stopped holding hands and Giving Thankfuls. Including non-reverent entries, mostly from me, like “I’m thankful for Jonathan not forgetting to do such-and-such.” We’ve been married forty-five years, and he is a husband after all.

Every holiday season, I have lots of reasons for Giving Thankfuls. Up front among them are memories, like those I’ve shared here about family, and about blazing, battling and being in love through those forty-five years I mentioned. We are a stormy couple for sure. None of you who know me well will doubt the probability of that. I do not go gentle into anything, sometimes to my credit, sometimes not. I am, nonetheless, at this stage of my life, Giving Thankfuls for having grown to appreciate myself, however imperfect a character I may be.

Speaking of characters, every morning finds me Giving Thankfuls for the gift of storytelling, which probably comes from Grandma, where most of the good in me was born. She told stories aloud. I write mine down. The abiding spirit is definitely connected. Being a storyteller has put me in the amazing company of other storytellers. I love that company for its generosity, its wonderful wit, its endless ingenuity. I’ve found role models and helpmates there, friends too, both professional and personal. I cannot imagine another community I would rather inhabit.

Except maybe our church community at the hundred-fifty-year-old parish five blocks from where we live. Jonathan and I, and granddaughter too, were there yesterday peeling potatoes, preparing stuffing and setting tables for today’s Thanksgiving feast. We love the diversity of our congregation. Many nationalities, many different first languages, all worshiping as one. Our diversity will be well-represented at today’s meal, along with that of our neighborhood at large, all of whom are invited to join us. There’s bound to be an abundance of Giving Thankfuls too.

We also have dear friends across the country for whom we are continually Giving Thankfuls. Consider yourself among them. So, dear friends, what would you mention when you are Giving Thankfuls? Please share those mentions with us in the Comments to this post. And, most important, have a totally joyful Thanksgiving.

P.S. The guy in the photo is Jonathan, and I have no idea why he’s peeking into the turkey’s you-know-what. Should I worry about that?  Alice Orr – www.aliceorrbooks.com.

– R|R –

Alice’s new novel, for which she’s Giving Thankfuls, is A Time of Fear & Loving – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Book 5. Available HERE. You can find all of Alice’s books HERE.

What readers are saying about A Time of Fear & Loving. “Alice Orr is the queen of ramped-up stakes and page-turning suspense.” “Warning. Don’t read before bed. You won’t want to sleep.” “The tension in this novel was through the roof.” “A budding romance that sizzles in the background until it ignites with passion.” “I never want an Alice Orr book to end.” “The best one yet, Alice!”

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Tags: Grandma, Helpmates, Colleagues, Storytelling

Second Chance Love – First Class Storytelling

I adore Second Chance Love. The one that got away, or you let go because you knew they weren’t a good match for you. But that was then and this is now, and the nostalgia filter has performed a reality reconfiguration big time. Through that pink-purple, or whatever color combo suits your starry eyes, memory crush has morphed into whatever your dream combo may be. Mine is George Harrison meets George Carlin and imports Desmond Tutu for the heart chakra. That guy I would diet my literal behind off because of, pay every cent I have on plastic surgery for, and throw in several self-improvement courses too. Why? Because he’d be my Second Chance Love.

Who is your Second Chance Love? Is it a real-life person that actually exists somewhere between the layers of your experience, distantly or maybe not-so-distantly, past? Do you remember the actual name, or would you prefer to provide a new one? Do you remember the details of this heartthrob’s personal backstory, the poignant pathos of a stricken childhood made even more lamentable by painful recollections of puberty? Do you fancy yourself the one and only capable of healing said wounds? Or maybe you simply anticipate running into this individual at a high school reunion, or some such event, and wowing his/her knickers off, perhaps literally, with your scintillating present-day self.

I don’t know your answers to the above queries. What I do know is that you have the makings of a Second Chance Love story. Your reunion or sexy soul salvation or dreamboat heartthrob fantasy has storytelling legs that reach all the way to the ground and then some, because everybody loves a Second Chance Love story. Why? Because everybody has at least one such story of their own. Everybody has googled at least one hot-memory someone from their past, which means everybody is a hot readership opportunity for Second Chance Love storytellers.

In my latest novel,  A Time of Fear & Loving – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Book 5, Amanda Miller has unfinished business in Riverton, battlefields she didn’t conquer her first time around there. The most dangerous of those battlefields involves Mike Schaeffer, the young love she lost long ago. She wishes she could write an alternate ending to their story. “Look at me,” she’d say. “See the woman I am now. Don’t you wish you had noticed me back then? Sorry. You missed your chance.” Then she’d walk away without a backward glance, but it’s too late for that, too late for anything between Amanda and Mike. Or so she believes, until she sees him again.

I love Second Chance Love situations, not only for their market potential, but for their plot scenario potential too. They allow me to jump straight into the heart of the story without a lot of “meet-cute” at the beginning, when I’m supposed to be hooking the reader and grabbing her attention. I’m not a big fan of the meet-cute. Two attractive people meet in a cut, usually at least somewhat contrived situation and are attracted to each other. Sparks fly. Clever banter abounds. But where is the real story? What plummets the heroine into a dilemma so intense, dramatic and powerful she will have to scramble and struggle to escape. How is the reader hooked? Why is her attention grabbed?

I write romantic suspense so my lovers-to-be can meet over a dead body, which diminishes the cuteness factor considerably. Still, on first encounter, they might tend to circle one another bantering cleverly anyway. Three more of my Riverton Road stories refuse to follow that scenario. In A Wrong Way Home and A Vacancy at the Inn, heroine and hero were past lovers, though very briefly, and in A Year of Summer Shadows they’ve been eyeballing each other for quite some time.

Only A Villain for Vanessa is not a Second Chance Love story. Each of the others saves me a lot of work as a storyteller. The preliminaries are done with before page one. The “I’m so-and-so. Who are you?” part is past. More important, I have backstory to work with and develop. Backstory rife with conflict that gives my present-time front-story huge potential for intensity, drama and power. I’ve given myself a strong story advantage even before my story begins, and I’m in favor of advantages. The challenges of storytelling are enormous. I’ll take any help I can get. Second Chance Love stories are a great source of such help. Storytelling possibilities abound. Get out there and grab yourself some.

Plus, I love Second Chance Love stories because I believe life is all about chances, second or third or fourth or however many chances we need to succeed.

Alice Orr – www.aliceorrbooks.com.

– R|R –

A Time of Fear & LovingDon’t miss this chance to read Alice’s new Second Chance Love story. A Time of Fear & Loving – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Book 5 is available HERE. You can find all of Alice’s books HERE.

What readers are saying about A Time of Fear & Loving.

“Alice Orr is the queen of ramped-up stakes and page-turning suspense.”
“Warning. Don’t read before bed. You won’t want to sleep.”
“The tension in this novel was through the roof.”
“A budding romance that sizzles in the background until it ignites with passion.”
“I never want an Alice Orr book to end.”
“The best one yet, Alice!”

http://facebook.com/aliceorrwriter/
http://twitter.com/AliceOrrBooks/
http://goodreads.com/aliceorr/
http://pinterest.com/aliceorrwriter/