Friday, February 17, 2017

Best of the Archives: "Grab Your Hard Hats! We're Building in Seekerville!"

Originally there was a picture of Mike Rowe here, RIGHT HERE... but then I got worried that Mike might find the picture and sue us and then all of these years of hard work are for naught!!!! because Ruthy used a Mike Rowe picture. (Big Sigh Here.) If I had random pics of guys in hard hats wandering around the farm, I'd post one. Alas, that's out of my farm girl wheelhouse! But I do have a great shot of Farmer Seth guiding one of our big rototillers through God-given soil... And he's even cuter than Mike! Either way, the Ruthy lesson provides great info, regardless, so here you go, another look at "Building Characters" because that's one of the things I love best about storytelling.

A hero should always be able to get the job done, conquer obstacles in his path, figure out what needs to be accomplished and then do it. Even if it's scary. Or draining. Or life-sucking. Like those snakes in Indiana Jones and the Temple Whose-a-ma-jiggy. Whatever.

And then take a shower.

Building characters is like building a house. Or a business. Pretty much anything you put your hand to. Ya' gotta start with a firm foundation. Now I lost my firm foundation about fifteen years ago, but that's a whole other blog and I'm pretty sure Life-style Lift won't lift what's gone south.

Let's start with Colt Stafford from "Back in the Saddle" because I know him well, I've fielded lots of drooling e-mails about him and he's a great guy to begin with because we've talked about unforgettable heroes. What makes them tick. What makes us want to 'fix' them. Care for them. What makes them stand out. 

Building analogies WORK for visual learners:

A sandwich....

Bread or roll = book's beginning and end
Filling: Layers... meat, veggies, cheese, mayo, peppers, tomatoes, onions, Italian oil... Picture these as your scenes. Your "content" to bridge from one part of the roll (beginning) to the second part of the roll (end)

If you're not into sandwiches, how about this building analogy:


No matter what else happens in life, you can never go wrong with cake. Promise.

Plain cake is well... Plain. Boring. Don't try to convince me otherwise, you're wasting your breath.

Jeeps creeps, are ya' kiddin' me?


Another great analogy.

Cake...frosting....pudding....jelly....ganache (look it up, it's SOOO worth it)...custard....fudge sauce....more cake....frosting and decorations.

Again, it's the layering that pumps in the conflict and scenes needed in the middle.
Picture weak conflict as cake without eggs.
Using brown and white eggs is an amazing teachable moment about skin tone. Inside: it's an egg. Color makes no difference. Lovely lesson.

That is the only FLAT analogy I'm giving you except maybe Matza bread.
Matza bread is also flat. (that reminds me there is now a SESAME STREET SHALOM show that teaches about Jewish customs. Great learning opportunity. Adorable. Beautifully done.
Okay, off topic.)

I wanted to do a secret baby story ever since I heard about West Point's policy on marriage and parenthood: Cadets cannot be married or responsible for a child. So what if the heroine hides the child because the hero will lose his West Point appointment?

That's a good beginning. It makes sense to me. Stupid reasons for secret babies annoy me. But self-sacrifice? I can believe that.

OR: a threat to the child if fatherhood is revealed? I could be convinced of that as well, because certain men draw dangerous interest. Safety of the child would come first to a mother, right? But to make it real I can't just SAY IT. Although I'd like to. It would make my job easier. And I'd have more time for bon bons and foot rubs.

But the boss won't let me, so I have to build that platform, that foundation. And that's where "WHY?" comes in.

Why would going to West Point matter that much to anyone?

Here's a list:

Family honor
Love of country
Love of service
Pride in the appointment
Give-back mentality
Need for respect
Need to prove one's self
Love carrying major league cool weaponry
Babe magnet

The military academies are in a class of their own. A friend whose son was a West Point graduate told me stepping onto that campus was like entering another world. A world of right and wrong, respect, integrity, work ethic, equality, faith and honor. She said it amazed her how openly people worshipped, how respectful everyone was to guests and one another, and the overall feel of being there was something she'd never forget. So for Trent I combined a 'Give Back Mentality' with "Need for respect" and "Need to prove one's self".

And the babe magnet aspects aren't too hard to take, either!

But that only begins my platform. Again: WHY does he need to give back? Is it a personality glitch? Is it atonement for past wrongs? Is it payback?

WHAT happened to him that made him want to serve? To be recognized, although humble? Be a leader?

His parents dumped him as a four-year-old child. Trashed him. Led him out into a field along I-86 and drove off, leaving him to wander in the cold and snow. A pair of hunters rescued him, and the whole town kind of adopted him, their boy. Their little man. The 'town' son. So he's surrounded by love, but abandoned by the one person who should love him most: his mother.

Now my platform is spreading. Thickening. It's becoming more supportive, like building a nice basement, but you've gotta have some solid 2X4 action going on to lay subflooring, right?

Trent longs for respect. He longs for a family. He needs to prove himself.


Being dumped messes with the ego. His fragile sense of self is wounded. He started out the day with parents and a little brother, and ended it with no one. Nothing. Abandoned and left to die. That's a tough thing to hand a kid.

And then he had to identify his little brother's remains because Mom and Dad dumped little Clay two counties east of where they dumped Trent.

Now we have guilt. Sorrow. Loss.

Four-year-old Trent is pretty sure he could have saved Clay if they'd dumped them together. That's a lot to put on four-year-old shoulders, but I'm sure we've all known kids like that. Kids that carry old souls in young bodies.

Trent is an anomaly. Sure, he grows up in a nice town with a lovely foster family. He's a football star, a town favorite, a grid-iron magician that sets hearts on fire every Friday night under the lights as he leads his hometown team to a state title.

But everyone knows his story. Everyone watches. Everyone shares the pride in his success, and a part of him would just like to be normal, with a typical family, a normal boy, then a normal guy.

He falls in love with the boss's daughter in high school. Things go too far, and he realizes he disrespected her because it was HIS JOB to shelter her. Not take advantage of her. So when she leaves him and goes off to school, his GUILT from Clay, from enhanced responsibility, from that inner-ego makes it seem justified to him. He'd let her down by making love to her.

She was right to leave.

Bringing Trent back home was easy. He "OWED" the town. They'd saved him. Cherished him. Loved him. Watched over him. So the very thing that set him apart while growing up, became his reason to return.

Honorable men pay their debts.

Helping the hometown climb out of an economic downturn was the least he could do.

External conflict was easy-peasy: She'd taken his child and lied and he'd be totally emasculated to trust her again.

Internal conflict had to show why he grew up to be who he was, what he was, why he was. And that started a long, long time ago.


Come on inside. Easy breakfast this morning because time's short today! Grab a bagel, fixin's on the side, yes, fish and onions and cream cheese and fruit and garlic spread and olives. I love cream cheese and green olives on toasted bagels. To die for.

Oh, so delish!
Comments are turned off today to give you and us some writing time... but you can always find me on facebook or e-mail me at, because I love talking about books and writing!

Multi-published, award-winning, bestselling author Ruthy Logan Herne loves God, her family, her country, coffee, chocolate, dogs and all kinds of pretty flowers... and she loves to talk storytelling! Tucked in her upstate New York farmhouse (where if she fixes one thing, she breaks two more!) she's facing a winter of mud, not snow...  She's got five books coming out in 2017: "Their Surprise Daddy," (Love Inspired) "Peace in the Valley", (Waterbrook Press), "A Light in the Darkness" (Mysteries of Martha's Vineyard, Guideposts) "The Lawman's Yuletide Baby" (Love Inspired) and "Welcome to Wishing Bridge" (Amazon/Waterfall Press).... So she's feeling particularly blessed these days! 

Stop on over to her website friend her on facebook as RuthLoganHerne