Star & Lofty enjoying breakfast!
Last week my son and I took our horses on a holiday to Chericke Park at Maryknoll in Victoria – a hidden gem! This lovely cottage, nestled in the foothills of the Bunyip State Forest, offers horse and rider accommodation. It’s situated on five acres, has secure horse paddocks and you can bring your dogs too.
The cottage is beautifully appointed, and has everything you need to enjoy your stay. There are two large bedrooms, an open fire, barbecue and outside fire pit. It can sleep ten people, and there’s plenty of room available for camping if you want to bring a crowd. The state forest is only ten minutes away and offers stunning riding trails and bush walking. Although the cottage caters for horses and riders, it also welcomes city families and their pets to stay and enjoy the country life.
We spent hours exploring the forest trails, and the horses enjoyed their stay as much as we did. The safely fenced paddocks were chock full of sweet, juicy green pasture, and even the holding yards had grass. Guests have complete privacy, yet the owners live in the property’s main house, and are only a phone call away if needed.
I highly recommend a stay if you can’t bear to leave your horse behind when you go on holiday. Didn’t get much work done on my new book though – there’s too much great riding on the doorstep. I’ve already booked another stay. Five stars! 🙂
Stories need conflict, we all know that. Usually this comes about via a protagonist and antagonist with opposing goals. One man wants to win the battle and another man wants to stop him. This is the simplest version. But what about when opposing goals are contained within the same person? This happens when a character desperately wants two things that are mutually exclusive. It echoes life, and allows for rich characterisation when the choice is finally made. Readers really feel for a hero in the throes of this kind of tortured inner turmoil. If done well, the readers themselves become torn in two directions. They take sides, change their minds, feel the frustration. It’s an unbeatable recipe for a page-turning read, and the engine room of many popular novels.
Conflicting goals lie at the heart of Anna Karenina. Anna wants both her adulterous lover Vronsky and her child. In nineteenth century Russia she can’t have both. Will she follow her burning passion whatever the cost? Or will she return to a safe, suffocating marriage for the sake of her child? She chooses Vronsky. Her choice destroys their love and leads to ultimate disaster. Tolstoy uses action, thoughts, dialogue and backstory to emphasise the pull of these conflicting goals. They seem equally matched, until the fatal choice is made.
- Other well-known examples are Twilight by Stephanie Meyer – Bella wants to be with Edward, but she also wants to live.
- Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen – Jacob wants to keep his job at the circus, but he also wants to protect the elephants
- Hamlet by William Shakespeare – Hamlet wants to avenge his father by killing the king, but he also wants to fulfil his duty as a prince by protecting the king and the stability of the kingdom
- The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins – Katniss wants to win the games so she can live, but if she wins, her friend Peeta will die. She wants him to live too.
The greater the war within, the more compelling your story will be. Donald Maass, in Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook, sets out a good way to create conflicting goals. ‘Ask what does your hero most want in the novel – his story goal. Then ask what’s the opposite of that, or mutually exclusive to it? Give your hero an equally compelling reason to not pursue his goal. He wants both at once, but can’t have them both. The story will play out in how the hero pursues these opposing desires until the conflict is resolved, one way or another.’