You know when you say that you have no idea what someone is talking about? But you really do.
Is it possible to write a story based on the story arc of The Hero’s Journey but then actually take your hero through the journey at the same time?
Working on my new series with Charlie Holiday and I’m, sorry, forcing him through The Hero’s Journey.
I’m using StoryShop as a writing tool and one thing I like about it are the “beats.” Beats are the meta information about your chapter or section. What’s happening here that the author needs to know to guide him or her along? Those are the beats.
I’m currently on Section 2, Chapter 7, which is “The Meeting With the Goddess.” Here’s the little tidbit of meta information for the chapter and what follows is what happens when you give me headphones, a cup of tea, and a quiet morning before anyone else is awake.
The hero faces temptations, often of a physical or pleasurable nature, that may lead him or her to abandon or stray from his or her quest, which does not necessarily have to be represented by a woman.
“Seems like a pretty good deal, doesn’t it?” the woman said as she slithered up to the bar stool next to him at the train station cafe, First Class.
“I’m sorry, what did you say?” Charlie said, turning to see who was talking to him and asking him a question without introducing herself.
“It’s the exhileration of the unknown, the what-might-happen-if-I-say yes scenarios that are just so difficult to pass up,” she stated as if he knew exactly what she was talking about.
He did. And he didn’t.
He couldn’t, in good conscience, ask her what she was talking about as there had been too many so-called strangers now who started conversations as if they knew him—and apparently they all did—for him to say that he had no idea what they were talking about, where they were going with it, or what they wanted from him. That was all done now.
“They sure are,” he answered and sipped his drink as casually as if he had this conversation all the time. The one about abondoning The Easy Life if his past for The Unknown Adventure of his future.
“Woo,” he added for emphasis as he figured he might as well play the role if she was going to play her role. “Gotta love that new life. All adventure and unknown and whatnot. It’s just too much to pass up when you compare it with the known and day-to-day boredom of the past,” he paused not for effect, but because he had no idea what he was talking about. It was just words, just trying to please her, to guess what she was saying. “You know? Oh yes. That’s what I’m talking about.”
He sipped his beer and flared his lips and gritted his teeth like they do in the movies when they sipped a strong liquor. His beer wasn’t quite there but he liked the effect.
“You’re kinda funny,” she said and with that disarmed his game completely. As if she had a secret button that shed his armor with one click, this was not what he expected.
Whereas only seconds previous he knew exactly the game he was playing—that is, the game of pretending you know what’s going on—he now, yet again, had no idea who this woman was and what she wanted.
Maybe she wasn’t part of them, part of the those-who-will-not-be-named-because-we-don’t-know-their-names crew who had oh-so-recently kidnapped the self he formerly knew as Charlie Holiday.
“I’m hilarious,” he said taking a line from his youngest son.
“You know,” she started as she sipped her cocktail, a light blue concoction that was so bright it seemed to have an LED light in the bottom of it. In fact, it was so much the case that poor Charlie searched for any sign of tiny light bulb at the bottom of the glass and quickly sidetracked into why he hadn’t inventued such and thing and if there weren’t actually a light under there that he should look into the patent first thing in the morning.
‘Tail Lights’ he thought. From cocktail lights. Tail lights. He liked it. He liked it a lot.
“Are you quite done?” she asked.
She wasn’t sure if, during his little escape into the world of Chinese miniature lightbulb manufacturing, she had possibly gone through an entire scenario of future lives compared to past lives or if she had said a grand total of nothing. He had no earthly idea.
But the Tail Light idea wasn’t going away. Not for anyone. Not even slinky bar woman who was still there. Right in front of him. The one who asked if he was quite done. He was.
“I am,” he said with a little twist of his head, something that people did who were lightyears cooler than he was, but somehow it just happened. “I’m quite done.”
He couldn’t help it. He had to talk more.
“You have no idea where my mind just went,” he said and had another sip of his beer but this time he didn’t need the ooh-that-was-strong grimace.
“Into the gutter?” she asked.
“Oh, far from it,” he said matter-of-factly. “Into a Chinese lightbulb factory.”
The woman, as alluring as she was trying to be, was losing ground to the conveyor belts and laboratories testing lumen count and movement-sensing switches.
“Do you know why I’m here?” she asked.
“Unless you’re a representative from a LED production facility, then no, I have no idea.”
“You’re not what I expected,” she said, cool as a cucumber.
“You’re exactly what I expected,” Charlie responded, cooler than a frozen cucumber.
“What did you expect?”
“I had no expectations, none at all. Zero,” he said and even made an 0-symbol with his fingers.
“Then how … “ she trailed off. “Ah,” she said. “I see.”
She sipped again. Sinking back into her old, probably seductive muderer self.
“You have already passed the first test and you probably didn’t even know there was a test.”
“Ooh, I love passing tests that I didn’t know about,” he said. “How did I do?”
“I’m not exactly sure, but let’s just say you don’t need to do the make-up exam or the after-hours study program.”
“Oh goodie,” he said, forgetting briefly his cover as cool guy of the universe.
“Did you just say Oh goodie?”
“Sure did,” Charlie said because he couldn’t figure out a way to get out of that one easily.
“Do you know what the test was?”
“Not the faintest.”
“Do you want to know?”
This one stumped him. He couldn’t answer, couldn’t do anything but look into her eyes to see if she was going to tell him without using any words. She was giving nothing away.
He thought he might know. He thought it probalby had something to do with his past and his future and everything that had been going on with him recently.
He thought of the answer he’d like to give. He thought of the answer he thought that she’d like him to give. He thought of the first thing that came to mind. But this was the first thing that came to his new mind.
“Nope,” he said and managed to sip his drink without taking his eyes from hers. If there was any sort of message that was going to come from her eyes, he was going to be the first to see it.
There was nothing to read. Nothing to see. Nothing to decipher. If she was the latest spy to come his way to test him, she was good. She gave nothing away. She held his gaze and even managed to raise her glass up, gorgeous blue tone radiation from the bottom of the glass, toast towards him, all while never for a millisecond leaving the penetrating power of his gaze, brought the glass to her lips, winked as if it were in slow motion and Charlie’s thoughts went immediately to one place and one place only.