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Sunday, May 27, 2012

Values Grid

There are two things I am looking for:  a full-page table of about eighty values that was a handout at a law firm luncheon/lecture and a sample of a novel opening paragraph--again a handout (I think) at a writing class.

I have yet to find either, but I'm still looking.

However, I have a good facsimile, although smaller in scope, of the values grid.  Here it is to share with you (and so I can at least find this abbreviated version later--grrr!):

Achievement – Sense of Success
Advancement – a move or a promotion
Love – soul mate, belonging, acceptance
Creativity – Imagination, inventive
Faith, God
Freedom / Independence
Financial security – steady income
Friends – belonging, sharing
Helpful - Service to Others
Health, mental and physical
Loyalty – duty and obedience
Order – tranquility, stability
Personal growth
Recognition – respect, status
Responsible – dependable, capable
Self-respect – pride, worthy
Wealth – riches

The purpose of this exercise was to weed out lesser desires from our higher ones.  Way back when at that staff luncheon, we had to knock out half of the chart, striking those in say three to five minutes.

Then our self-awareness speaker had us take out half of the remaining squares.  Again, with a short time limit from what I remember.  So you are hopefully going more with your gut than with what societal mores dictate, or worse, what your family wants to see on your business cards.

You keep cutting, increasingly harder items to give up.  Until you have the final one.

I know I was surprised at what was left on mine.  It wasn't wealth or fame.  Not even health--and that's a biggie.  What is that old saying?  What's wealth without your health?  Yeah, something like that.

Yet the end result is to name that "ultimate of ultimates" which you are seeking in this game we call life.  Then evaluate your job/career, your love life, your home, even which state/country you currently reside in, against this finding.  Quite illuminating.

Plus, you authors out there can use it for the internal conflict of your characters.  Mix and match to create the biggest clashing of values possible.

While you are doing all that, I'm on a mission.  To find that original grid.  And to find that "perfect" sample of a novel's opening chapter.  You know, where the Who, What, When, Where and Why are all addressed, like a journalist would, but still a necessary tool for us fiction writers as well.

PLEASE feel free to share your Values Grid or Perfect Opening Paragraph samples.  Otherwise, I might go mad . . . or just not get anything else done in the interim.

Enjoy your Memorial Day Weekend, all!

Denise Barker, author + freelance copy editor + blogger
Good Ole Boys, a love story at http://amzn.to/GoodOleBoys

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