It was the best of times; it was the worst of times . . .
Not only does that sentence begin the Dickens classic, it also describes the past couple of weeks in my life. Well, maybe not quite so dramatically, but it did provide a theatrical way for me to begin.
Over said past couple of weeks, I had very precise plans for the use of my time. Among other things, I planned to finish my Christmas shopping, continue on my work in progress, wrap presents, continue on my work in progress, decorate the house, continue on my work in progress…you get the idea.
But, to paraphrase another famous quote, while I was making plans, life had other ideas.
In the process of helping to care for a couple of grandchildren with viral infections-keep them quiet so they can rest-I’ve had the occasion, several really, to watch lots and lots and lots of television shows. Shows of the basic made for little children to understand variety. And Lord bless whomever it was who invented the DVR.
One of the cinematic highlights was the classic cartoon version of Cinderella. After the seventh or eighth viewing, or it could have been the ninth, I discovered something interesting. A few things, really.
My first come to realize moment was that each time I watched there were character interactions, subtle plot changes, even entire scenes that I missed or didn’t completely understand. Once I got most of those under my visual belt-and I say most because I’m sure there are many more that have failed to register in my brain-I found I began to diagram the story for goal, motivation and conflict.
As with any, well, classic that has endured over time, the plot and storyline are tight, precise and easy to follow. Again using the concepts of goal, motivation and conflict. Cinderella’s desire for a happy future; the cruel step-mother’s desire for power, control and prestige; the ugly stepsisters’ desire to be, well, desired; and all had numerous obstacles each is given to overcome.
Woven in and around the quests of these humans, there’s the constant game of cat and mouse, literally, portrayed in the evil family cat’s unending pursuit of the good mice who are Cinderella’s friends.
Now, every time I watch-and I’m sure to have many, many viewings in my future-I’ll also enjoy a true learning experience as I find many, many more plot devices, goals, motivations and conflicts to discern and dissect.
Even when there isn’t time to actually write, there is always time, and the opportunity to study the craft and, hopefully, improve my own stories in the process.
It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. . .And I’m making the best use of ALL the times I can.