Sunday, November 21, 2010

Non-fiction: Leading at the Edge

Kes the new character in my novel Lodestar needed to grow into a leader among his people so I re read Leading at the Edge, one of my favourite books. It details how Ernest Shackleton brought back his whole crew from a failed attempt to reach the South Pole. This back in 1914-1915, before the days of lightweight waterproof snow gear, gps, motorised ice transport and other conveniences without which we could now not make such an attempt. Shackleton's expedition had linen tents without floors, wooden boats and dogs to pull their sleds, to name but a few differences.

The book starts with a eleven page precis of Shackleton's amazing achievement. Then the ten characteristics of a really good leader are described and related to Shackleton's strategies during his journey. Modern situations in industry and commerce are also quoted though these lack resonance for me. Shackleton remains one of my favourite hero-type characters.

Kes, in chapter 23, is chained to his least favourite person, Jeb. Their relationship so far has been one of snipping and sniping. Now they are required to somehow get into a mode of co operation, save their lives along the way of making it back to their people's tents. 

This is the midpoint of the story. Both Ahni the main character, and Kes, her lover, are climbing out of the mid-point depths and I needed a way of growing Kes towards the hero that he eventually needs to be. 

I've written the what-happens, the narrative. Next I need to assign the motivations, why things happen. The way that narrative is turned into plot, as I understand it. I'll probably pick a couple (for this stage of the story) of characteristics of leadership and match them to the events.  

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