Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Power of Transformation

Today I welcome award winning author, an instructor of online writing courses and a world traveler to Terry's Place--all in one guest. Robie Madison shares some (not so) random thoughts on transformation—a vital component of the Journey Cycle.

First, thanks to Terry not only for the invitation to her blog, but also for her ongoing series about her hunt for a new house. As you’ll soon see, the topic “speaks” to a transformative event going on in my own life.

It all started with a question.

A while ago a friend of mine asked if I’d considered the physiological implications when my 6’4” hero shifts into a 15 foot dragon (my latest work in progress).

Quite frankly, that’s one part of world building I didn’t spend much—okay, any time on. This is fiction, right?

Then, just the other week, I finally caught up with Transformers (2007), the live action film based on a line of toys, comic and paperback books, and cartoons.

Forget the predictable plot, the excessive violence, the token romance subplot and, most especially, Optimus Prime’s over-the-top monologues—

The first time Bumblebee transforms from a 1977 Chevy Camaro into his Autobot form is just plain cool. [The movie deservedly received an Academy Award nomination for Best Achievement in Visual Effects.] And I’m sure no one, from the writers to the members of the audience, sat there and questioned how a gigantic sentient robot, who towers over his human friend (even if he is small for an Autobot), could transform into a compact-sized vehicle.

The point is—transformation is powerful. It can defy the laws of physiology. It definitely challenges logic. At times it can be awe-inspiring. At other times downright scary.

Transformation is also an inescapable consequence of life.

Like moving, although I understand some people attempt to avoid moving, while others of us are crazy enough to embrace this type of intense transformation.

Typical of many good stories, this one started with a “what if” conversation.

Of course, after the last “what if we move” conversation that occurred in my house, dare I admit seventeen years ago, we sold up and moved halfway around the world to Brunei Darussalam, a small country on the island of Borneo.

Nothing so drastic this time—we’re staying in the east end, but that “what if” conversation proved to be a dramatic Inciting Incident.

The next thing I knew, I’d made an innocent remark during a Christmas party to a friend, who also happens to be a real estate agent, and wam! I received the Call to Adventure. I was put on a Property Match loop that found houses that fit my stringent criteria.

Within a month I was taking a tour or two of some prospective properties, while cleaning out fourteen years worth of “stuff” we’d accumulated after our return from Brunei. But I was not yet fully committed.

I refused to acknowledge that things were about to get out of control. After all, I didn’t need to move this year. And I was definitely not going to put our current home on the market, let alone sell it, until I could be sure I could find The House.

A month and a half later, I found The House. We’re moving in June.

5 Key Points to showing the power of Transformation in your story:

1. The “seeds” of the protagonist’s transformation need to be “sown” during the Inciting Incident.

2. The journey toward transformation doesn’t come with road signs. Rather, a series of events propels the protagonist toward inevitable change.

3. No matter how rational or logical the protagonist is—the conflict cannot be solved.

4. The protagonist’s growth toward transformation challenges her goals and, her motivations.

5. Most importantly, the transformative process challenges the protagonist's view of herself.

© Robin Matheson

To learn more about Robie Madison’s books and writing courses visit her at: www.robiemadison.com. Her latest releases include: Shifting Dreams from Samhain Publishing and the third book in the Heartbreak Anonymous series, Getting It All from Ellora’s Cave.


Robie Madison said...

Good Morning, Terry

Thanks for adding the red dragon. Very appropriate since my 6'4" hero is from Wales, although I don't think he's as cute as this one. LOL

Terry Odell said...

I'm glad you like him ... and thanks for being my guest today. Your topic is timely, as we, too, picked up and moved.

Terry Stonecrop said...

Good post. Thanks. I agree, a character's transformation, big or small, adds a lot to the story. Some genres more than others.

Robie Madison said...

You're welcome Terry, and, ah, Terry. :)

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

What an interesting point. Is it the transformations we face in our own lives that allow us to stretch our characters’ transformations to the brink?

Robie Madison said...

Glad you liked the post, Jane. And yes, I think all writers (some more consciously then others) draw on their own transformative experiences to create larger than life fiction. It's part of the old "write what you know" adage.

Debra St. John said...

Great post. Setting up the story so that transformation occurs for our characters throughout the course of the novel is what writing is all about. Sometimes it's easier to do than other times!

Robie Madison said...

Thanks, Debra. And you're right. True story transformations are a lot more complicated than a man turning into a dragon or a robot turning into a car, even though those can be awesome.

Sheila Deeth said...

Fun post. Thanks.

I find myself remembering my sons large box of transformers. I haven't seen the movie yet, but I always enjoyed the twists and flicks that turned giant robots back into cars on the kitchen floor.

Robie Madison said...

You're welcome, Sheila. :)

And I definitely recommend the first Transformers film, which should satisfy that bout of nostalgia.