Yet another day in the quest for story. Earlier on in the process I was faced with the challenge of setting goals for my characters and then processing the obstacles they face in achieving those goals. Today was a continuation of that act by putting those goals on the map of the world setting. The challenge asks this question –
How does the world help or hinder them in reaching their goals?
In my own world this meant even more opposition and conflict. My characters are heading into some seriously stormy waters, but it also helped me to see those places in the world where they find encouragement, courage, and willpower even if that stems from a simple mule headed dedication to an idea when the world gives nothing but opposition. We don’t exist or pursue our dreams in a vacuum, and the world can be a bitter opponent and a dear friend at the same time.
As an example, I want to take a look at artists in our world at large. In doing so, I want to place it in the framework of 21 days. So let’s take Jack. Jack is an artist; Jack is a musician. But Jack wants to play music for a living, even if he doesn’t make it big. Though he wouldn’t object to making it big. So let’s make some goals, short term and long term.
In the short term, he wants to write some of his own songs, and then get into a few small venues around town. His long term goal is to one day play as a headliner in front 10000 people. Now I’m sure you can come up with some obstacles to these goals that Jack might face. I’m going to focus on Jack’s world at large and how the world around him effects his pursuit of these goals.
Short term 1 – Jack has an uncle who’s had some success writing songs and he’s been supportive of Jack as a musician, but he’s been very critical of Jack’s own attempts to write thus far. His grandparents, however, can’t get enough of his songs. He’s gotten involved with a group of songwriters with mixed results, they tend to be more interested in touting their own work than really listening to anyone else, but he’s met an older guy down at one of the clubs whose taken him under his wing and given him some really great advice on a couple of his tunes. He’s played a couple of his songs at open mic to mixed reception – not wholly bad, not wholly good. He’s got some friends who show up every time he plays. The rest of the world could really care less right now.
Short term 2 – Most venues are by audition with exception of open mic nights, and in this new culture they want to see his MySpace page before they even consider him. The going trend in his town right now requires a band as well, something he currently doesn’t have. Solo acts just aren’t receiving much press or attention from even the smallest of coffee houses, let alone any clubs. One relationship has gotten him an in to play with another band as a guitarist at one place, but until he’s proven he’ll have to scrap the money together to pay the cover and play unpaid.
Long term 1 – Talented people are everywhere. In fact, more talented people are everywhere. A small network is forming that helps, but the business of music is as cutthroat as any other and it’s entirely about making money for the label, and hopefully, a little for yourself as well. There’s is as much luck as skill involved and Jack is finding that the pond is so full of fish you can catch them with your hand and very little effort. They want to know he can make them money before they take him on… most of them anyway, and he hasn’t met any of the others. They’re just a myth other musicians tell. Regardless, most of the world doesn’t know him and doesn’t care.
So, that’s how I saw it myself and carried out the task. It’s a focus that is more on the externals coming from the world around them. Is it nurturing? Is it destructive? Is it critical? Is it encouraging? As always, it’s like life!
This may even be a good exercise for me in the context of my own goals, my own story, my own life. If nothing else, it’ll help define that line between friends, enemies and people who just don’t care and don’t matter, and maybe it will help clarify better choices as I walk this path. Anyway, that’s the exercise and I am once again thankful for the things I’ve learned about my story and my characters.