Author Archives: nancyaniles

About nancyaniles

Author of Vendetta: A Deadly Win, to be released in January 2010,

PATTERNS OF POWER PART THREE – PAYOFFS

In my last two blog posts I talked about the games people play and how those games of Transactional Analysis could be used in story-telling and dialogue. The games also set up different positions to create good communication and also to create conflict and tension.
The conflict, or in some cases coming together of two people in these roles always has at the center a “Payoff”. With a little stretching of the imagination I can also say that a “motive” could be born through these same interactions.
For example, a motive could be for a husband to prove himself to the disapproving wife who at first loved his childlike antics (Child Role) but has come to only feel disapproval for his inability to hold down a job. Even his sense of humor and playful personality cannot cajole her out of her stern, (Parent Role) disapproving countenance.
So, who changed? I believe neither changed, but their personalities became magnified as they dug their feet deeper and deeper into their basic roles. What’s the Payoff?
As a writer of crime fiction I would magnify the Payoff into some sort of reason for committing a crime. Or for the antagonist to believe he is isolated and the world doesn’t understand him, therefore he is justified in striking out.
He develops a strong desire to prove to his wife that he is not childish and that he can be responsible. Maybe he thinks that if he robs a bank and brings home a lot of money she will respect him. He’s still operating from a child point of view (striving to get money without having to work for it).
The Payoff, he thinks, will be to gain the respect of his wife when she sees all the money he’s gotten. When he gets horror and anger instead from his wife he realizes she will probably turn him in. He has a choice to make. He could go on the run or he could kill her. Either way, he blames her since she obviously doesn’t appreciate what he’s done for her (Child reasoning). He convinces himself that it’s all her fault.
I would prefer that he go on the run. The arc of the story could come when he begins operating from the “Adult” part of his personality. As an adult he would turn himself in, take responsibility and make a deal for leniency. He would get his self-respect back and who knows? His wife may even come to forgive him and see him as a changed man. Those are all positive Payoffs from the adult position and actions.
I find games fascinating and the Payoffs and motives even more so. What Payoffs have you read in fiction that you really liked, or have used in your own writing?

Nancy A. Niles is the author of Vendetta: A Deadly Win, a co-author on Rubicon Ranch: Riley’s Story and a co-author on Novel Writing Tips and Techniques published by Second Wind Publishing Company.

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Patterns of Power Part Two : Control Dramas

In my last blog post I talked about Patterns of Power and how those patterns can be seen in Eric Byrne’s Transactional Analysis and in the interactions while characters are emotionally operating from the three different positions of: Parent, Adult and Child.
James Redfield in his Celestine Prophecy incorporated Control Dramas for his protagonist that resemble the games Eric Byrne speaks of in Transactional Analysis. In his quote, Redfield says that his main character was able to survive by successfully resisting the games.
This got me wondering about Control Dramas and I’ve taken the notion of Patterns Of Power one step further to explore some of the “Games” I incorporated for my main character, Tina Munroe in Vendetta: A Deadly Win.
“I’m Only Doing This For You, Or For Your Benefit.” Even though this game can be played in order for the gamer to blame someone else for his actions, in my book I have Hutch telling Tina that the money is missing because he used it to help a woman.
This does not sit right with Tina because she knows Hutch to be too selfish to be spending money on someone else. The next game rings true as Hutch continues on his merry game playing way.
“See What You Made Me Do.” Is a very common game played by people in and out of fiction. Hutch plays this game with just about every woman he meets. This is a position of someone who refuses to take responsibility and this attitude speaks volumes about that person’s character.
“Rescue Me”. This game is played by Stella, the boss’s wife. Tina observes how protective her boss is of her and senses that Stella does not need a rescuer, at all. As long as Bernie feels he is her protector she has an easy time of manipulating him. Bernie does not believe Tina that his wife is really very manipulative and dangerous. He sees Stella as needing his protection and help. Stella is able to fool him because he wants to feel useful and important to his younger, attractive wife.
This game essentially blinds Bernie to Stella’s dark side and opens him up for the next step in the game which puts his life in jeopardy.
“Let’s You And Him Fight.” This is a love triangle and Stella sets things up beautifully. The only problem is that the wrong man winds up getting killed. (I don’t want to give away too much of the story, so I won’t say what happens.)
What Control Dramas have you incorporated in your novels and writings? What Control Dramas have you noticed in other’s writing, or in your own life?
The next post will deal with the Pay Offs these dramas give participants.

Nancy A. Niles is the author of Vendetta: A Deadly Win, a contributor to the book on writing entitled Novel Writing: Tips and Techniques and a co-author on the book Rubicon Ranch: Riley’s Story all three published by Second Wind Publishing Company.

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Patterns Of Power

In Janet Burroway’s book Writing Fiction, she talks about Patterns Of Power in writing and how both the protagonist and antagonist should be matched in order to keep the reader guessing as to the outcome of the struggle between the two.

She cites the different ways in which power can be shown: brute, physical strength, charm, knowledge, moral power, wealth, rank, etc. Usually the characters hold many forms of power in their own personal arsenals and that makes for a very suspenseful and complex play between the competing forces.

This got me thinking about Eric Byrne and Transactional Analysis which first hit the best seller lists in the late sixties and early seventies. I found his concept of Parent, Adult, Child to be fascinating and very true to life and the ways in which people wield power over others.

What I found most amusing and have seen in fiction stories is how when one person begins acting like a parent the other will most likely slip into their ‘child’ mode and either rebel like a kid, or become emotional like a small child. I’ve seen an example of this when a main character visits a teacher she had when she was in second grade, and even though the main character is an adult she suddenly feels as though she is that little kid again, feeling shy or tongue tied.

I believe in Transactional Analysis and the three states of Parent, Adult and Child. The more I think about this, the more ideas I get about dialogue between characters and characterization.

Have you noticed this power play in your daily life, or in fiction? How would you script a play between someone who is acting like a parent confronting someone who chooses to act the child, or the adult role? Or two adults playing the child, or …? You get the point.

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Nancy A. Niles is the author of Vendetta: A Deadly Win, a contributor to the book on writing entitled Novel Writing Tips and Techniques From Authors of Second Wind Publishing and a co-author on the book Rubicon Ranch: Riley’s Story all three published by Second Wind Publishing Company.

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Baby Steps On The Writer’s Path

The last few weeks I’ve been helping out a friend by tutoring her six year old boy a couple of hours a day. She home schools both of her children, an 8 year old girl and the boy. I felt a bit apprehensive at first because I wanted to make the learning experience fun so that he would continue to enjoy learning all throughout his life. I knew that I needed to have great patience and the willingness to repeat the lessons and do the drills over and over and over until it “clicked” in his head.
I’ve been remembering my early school days and that big blackboard with the ABC’s and the teacher with her pointer having the class recite each letter she pointed to. That memory sparked others and I began to ask myself what I liked or did not like about my early teachers and how each may have played a role in my love of reading and writing.
I remembered one teacher asking us what we wanted to be when we grew up and I said to the laughter of the class: “A Private Detective.” The teacher did not laugh and scolded the rest of the kids for laughing at me.
I loved that teacher. Her acceptance felt like a form of permission and I began snooping around my neighbor’s house, peeking in their windows and eavesdropping on their conversations. At first it was very exciting but after a week I was bored out of my mind.
I discovered Nancy Drew and an exciting world opened up before my eyes. I graduated to the PI genre with John D. Mc Donald, Parker and Spenser, Honey West and who could forget James Garner in The Rockford Files? From my love of reading PI books and watching PI shows I began to form a main character and my next step had been to write my own stories.
I wonder if that teacher had criticized me if I would have denied my interests and never even started writing. I am so grateful for her acceptance and encouragement. She didn’t make a big deal out of it, but she defended me and I’m sure happy today that she did.
What teachers, experiences or activities sparked your writer’s imagination and set you on the writer’s path?
Nancy A. Niles is the author of Vendetta: A Deadly Win from Second Wind Publishing.

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A KILLER’S HEART

 

I believe the killers in my novels to be as important as the Main Character and thinking about the actual killers in my stories I began to wonder what remorse they may or may not have. I also looked at how that reaction can be used in developing their characters.

The hard core psycho believes that the people they kill deserve it.  They’ve either done something to him or will do something or represent something that makes killing them the right thing to do.

In my first PI novel, Vendetta: A Deadly Win, the antagonist is seeking justice for his son.  He has created a purpose behind his quest for vengeance.  He has convinced himself that the people he kills – deserve it.  He believes he is making the world a better place for others by killing them.  He has some trouble coping with the innocents who get in his way – who he kills. But he rationalizes they are casualties of war.

I think it’s important to flesh out the antagonists reasoning as much as the Main Character’s and sometimes maybe even a little more.  I love a complex antagonist. I love when the writer makes us understand why he’s the way he is and how it makes perfectly good sense that he kills.

This goes one step further when the antagonist is killing other killers, or bad actors – the vigilante.  I cannot get behind a killer who kills good, innocent people – even if he is plagued with remorse afterward.  He needs to be stopped.

But the killer, like Dexter, is someone I can love and even root for.  Being in Dexter’s head is a real treat.  He is so multi-dimensional like my other favorite killer – Tony Soprano.  The killer as Main Character has become very popular.

Is there a killer Main Character you love?  What about him/her do you love?  How does he/she justify what he/she does?

Nancy A. Niles is the author of: Vendetta: A Deadly Win published by Second Wind Publishing.

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LOVIN’ OCTOBER

I love the month of October.  Not just because it’s my birthday month but also because I’ve always really enjoyed Halloween.

I still love to dress up as a super hero or a super villain and walk in those shoes if only for an evening.  I think that’s why I like to write.  When I’m in that character’s head I can become that person, (in my imagination) and explore doing and saying things that I would never think of doing in reality.

Over the last couple of years I’ve noticed my characters are growing darker, more haunted, more volatile and more criminal.  In contrast, my life has become more stable, calm and productive even though some very painful and extremely unfair events have taken place and shaken the foundation of my world.

Have you noticed an evolution in the types of characters you’re writing about and a connection with what you’re experiencing in real life?

I have mentioned before that writing for me is therapeutic.  I’m beginning to think that I channel a lot of my frustration and anger into my characters and by doing so I release those negative feelings.  And when my characters are able to rise to a challenge and prevail I feel as though I fought the good fight with them.

Since the death of a dear friend I have been writing more than I ever have.  In some ways writing has become an escape and also a way to express feelings that I keep private in my normal life.

Have you experienced these things with your writing?  What events have connected to your writing and how did you express those things through your stories?

Nancy A. Niles is the author of: Vendetta: A Deadly Win.

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GUNSHOTS by Nancy Niles

I’ve been hearing gunshots around my neighborhood and my first thought is that it is firecrackers and then maybe it’s a car back firing.  But the distinctive echo that accompanies a gunshot is harder to explain away.  So what’s happening?  Is someone out there just firing guns?  Should I barricade myself in my house?

These gunshots remind me of finding a shoe in the road.  They spark my curiosity and my writer’s brain scrambles to fill in a story of why there is one shoe in the middle of the road and why a gun is being fired among a residential district at eight o’clock on a week night.

If it were midnight on New Year’s Eve I wouldn’t give it too much thought, or late on a Friday or Saturday night.  But 8 pm is family hour and not a time to be hearing gunshots, or firing lethal weapons.

I read horror fiction from time to time and it’s really scary when the mundane, predictable world is suddenly filled with inappropriate, out of place creatures or events.  I always laugh at horror fiction because it seems there’s usually a good amount of people who are in denial about the intruding horrific event that is making its way inexorably onward to Normal, USA.

What gave me a chill was that after I heard the gunshots I called my neighbors to see if they’d heard them and they said yes, they had, but they hadn’t thought anything of them.  Reality imitates Fiction.  Is denial an inborn survival instinct?  Or is the need to feel safe so strong that some people avoid noticing danger signs and warnings?  Or am I just super paranoid?

It makes me wonder if others have noticed unsettling things only to brush over the event, or deny its existence, or explain it all away as something totally benign?  What strange out of place things have happened to you?  How has your imagination interpreted the event(s)?

Nancy A. Niles is the author of Vendetta: A Deadly Win and co-author on Rubicon Ranch – Riley’s Story.

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Happiness As A Process

The last couple of years have been difficult not only for me but for many of the Second Wind authors and I notice some of the posts are now turning toward a desire to move away from the pain and embrace the joy that’s in our lives.
I have been experimenting with the idea that happiness is a process. Much like anything else, it needs to be nurtured and worked at.
One of the first things I decided was that I would not spend time with super negative people. When friends get negative I tell them it isn’t allowed. We are starting to have some good laughs about silly things. It is as though all of sudden we’re seeing the humor that was always there.
A friend of mine purchased a very beautiful, expensive dress for a special occasion. She told me that she would probably only wear it that one time to which I replied that the dress was so beautiful she could wear it anywhere. Why not even wear it to the supermarket? She could if she wanted, instead of letting it hang unseen and unworn in her closet.
I too, have a very lovely dress I bought fairly recently to wear to a special occasion. I have not worn it since and it looks so forlorn in my closet that I decided to take my own advice.
It is a bright red dress with long sleeves and a draped front with a black belt. It is a stunning dress and with black nylons and high heels I feel very dressed up and elegant. Not exactly super market attire, but so what? Wearing the dress makes me happy and I feel pretty in it.
I anticipated stares and even smirks and whispers behind my back as I prepared for a trip to the local Smith’s dressed to the nines in my special dress. Did I have the strength within myself to endure ridicule, comments and who knows what?
This was a bit of a challenge as I am usually the one who fades into the background. I do not go out of my way to be noticed. I just know that I feel happy dressing up and going out.
I grabbed my list and coupons and went to the supermarket.
No one gave me a second look as I walked down the produce aisle, my high heels clacking on the concrete floor. Then I noticed a lady who I’d seen at the market before. She was always dressed up and today was no different. She smiled at me and told me I looked nice. We began to talk and she said it just makes her feel good to get all dolled up and go about her errands, even if it’s only to McDonald’s, the library, or the supermarket.
“You know,” she said. “Your attitude and willingness to do the unexpected could make a big difference in how you feel.”
I agreed and knew that I was onto something important and perhaps even life changing.
Have you defied convention and either dressed or acted in an unexpected way? What did you do? How did it affect your mood and attitude?
Nancy A. Niles is the author of: Vendetta: A Deadly Win, published by Second Wind Publishing Co.

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The Moth

While surfing the web the other day I came across best-selling author, George Dawes Green’s website and learned about The Moth.
He is the founder of The Moth. It is an event where people get on stage and share unscripted stories. He’s being hailed as doing his part in preserving the tradition of story-telling in the digital age.
I listened to some of these stories and found them to be inspirational, humorous, interesting and a lot of fun. I like this idea of spontaneously getting in front of a group of people and telling a story, whether that story is something that actually happened in your life, or just a story that’s been bumping around in your head.
Would you share stories of your past, or of your dreams, or of something that caught your attention and just won’t let go? Would you find the experience to be freeing and inspirational? I think this would be a great thing to do in writer’s groups, or in interviews with authors.
The stories we carry are the stories of our lives and of who we are. As a story teller this idea intrigues me. What about you? What stories would you share in front of an audience?

Nancy A. Niles is the author of: Vendetta: A Deadly Win

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WRITING EXERCISES

Years ago I gave myself permission to write without censorship from my internal editor.  To write what I enjoyed reading and to just be free to write whatever came into my consciousness.

Of course that resulted in pages and pages of material that I discarded, but I also began to form a characterization from this type of stream of consciousness writing.  That character became my Main Character, Tina Munroe.  Up until that point I had been forcing my character onto her and making very little progress with the development of her character.

Now I use this type of free form writing as an exercise to break away from my preconceived notions and personality and eventually uncover different characters.   I think of this type of exercise as allowing the muse to take the reins and develop the characters on the page independently from me.

Another exercise is where I make a list of emotions, or states of being:  Sadness, anger, fear OR vengeful, envious, greedy and write a paragraph showing a character in the throes of said emotion or state of being.

I’ve read that these types of exercises help to find one’s voice.  Another interesting exercise is writing AS someone else.  Say, writing the same paragraph over and over but as a different persona.  Shakespeare would write that paragraph quite differently from James Patterson.

What writing exercises do you practice that help you flesh out your characters, or to find your voice, or your character’s voices?

Nancy A. Niles is the author of Vendetta: A Deadly Win, published by Second Wind Publishing Co.

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