Of Salt and Vinegar Potato Chips, Times That Hurt and Being a Good Mother …

Various times and stages of life often resemble the taste of salt and vinegar potato chips.

At certain points in living the flavor conjured by our experiences leaves a bitter taste that draws on our vulnerabilities. This bitter taste does not ward us off, but rather as with my eating the salt and vinegar potato chips leaves us hungry for more.

As a daughter who is also a mother, I find

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Of Narrative, Scenes of a Life, and Brimming With Fear …

In that a memoir, and the structure of any narrative, consists of scenes, I must write various scenes of my life, those that most depict my suffering for which I offer forgiveness and hold compassion for my mother.

This is hard. Not simply because I am writing of my mother, and about myself. The challenge lies in my lack of certainty, the ambiguity of my mother’s actions, and thus my ambivalence.

Perhaps what

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Of Queens, Personalities, Wishes and Desires…

In chess, the Queen stands to the right of the King. Her major job is that of protecting the King. The dilemma of preventing the King’s capture rests upon the Queen’s head.

As such the Queen’s movements are central to winning the game of chess.

Establishing the major dilemma or problem in a story is essential to crafting fiction. The central problem inherently creates desire. And desire begets a series of actions that through cause-and-effect propel the narrative line–the plot.

Plot-driven stories answer the “What if?” question thereby directly conveying plot. Character-driven stories answer the questions, “Who? and Why now?”

From the personality of the of the central character rises an internal dilemma that determines behavior and reveals through a set of circumstances, often usual and common place, but no less bothersome and terrifying, a shift in way of behaving and perceiving the world.

This change or transformation emerges through a series of reactions and actions, again cause-and-effect set into motion by the protagonist’s personality, not so much the series of action themselves.

In this way the character-driven plot resembles that of the Queen’s aim and motive throughout chess. Perhaps this is why chess has been said to be the game of monarchs and aristocrats.

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Thrity Umrigar and the Timeless Tapestries of Her Stories

I discovered Thrity Umrigar last year when I read “The Space Between Us“. It’s a wonderful novel about what the title states, the space between us, us being a well-educated Parsi mother and widow Sera Dubash, and her poor, illiterate housekeeper, Bhima.

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Dialogue: More than Conversing

Dialogue has to show not only something about the speaker that is its own revelation, but also maybe something about the speaker that he doesn’t know but the other character does know. –Eudora Welty Good dialogue accomplishes 4 things in fiction: reveals and develops character delivers backstory drives Plot directs pace But there are more […]

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