Sunday, February 26, 2012

External Expressions of Internal Conflict Resolution: Amy and Roger's Epic Detour

I've been reading Amy and Roger's Epic Detour, which I'm loving, and I've noticed how well the author is using external manifestations of internal conflict resolution. I've learned a lot from watching how Matson executes these emotional changes.

*Very small spoilers that I don't think will ruin your enjoyment of this book at all follow.*

Within the first few chapters, you realize that there are several things Amy is gong to have to do before she can reach her emotional resolution. These things aren't abstract or metaphorical, like "resolve things with her mother" or "realize that she's not at fault for her father's death"; they're specific, concrete actions that symbolize these larger concepts.

In no particular order, I'm pretty sure she's going to have to:
  • Tell Roger what happened to her dad
  • Let Roger listen to her playlist
  • Listen to Elvis again
  • Buy sunglasses
  • Change out of her jeans and tee uniform
  • Have a verbal conversation with her mother
  • Reply to her best friend's emails
  • And, of course, drive.

I'm sure there are more that I'm forgetting, but those are a lot.

I've noted how Morgan handles these milestones:

  • The events don't all happen at once. They're spread throughout the book, largely in order of increasing significance. For instance, the first thing Amy does is start wearing some slightly nicer clothes. I think the last thing Amy will do is drive, or at least acknowledge that she will drive again someday.
  • They're not brought about by all the same person or situation. The changes occur slowly as Amy is thrust into different circumstances with different strangers who, wittingly or not, cause her to do these approach these goals. She then moves on to a new situation where she'll grow in a new way.
  • Some of the major changes occur in stages instead of all at once. For instance, I'm sure that Amy will eventually tell Roger what happened to her dad, but before that, she has brief snippets of conversation with other people, people she'll never see again, people with whom she can practice, though she doesn't realize it, telling her story.
  • These events don't always work out well. For instance, when she actually has a verbal talk with her mother, it's not a pleasant experience. I haven't finished the book, but I'm guessing that this is a stepping stone to the real conversation they need to have.

I haven't finished the book yet, but I'm loving it. It's an excellent read just for the story and the characters, and the great externalization of inner conflict is a great lesson for the aspiring author.

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