I was thinking about Hansel and Gretel yesterday.
Which got me thinking about how stupid they were to use breadcrumbs to mark their path through the woods. Instead of saving food to eat, they mark a trail with it. I guess there could be good reasons for that.
But then they get to the witch’s cabin, made out of delicious candy and gingerbread and whatnot. Of course they’re going to dig in. And the mean old witch, well naturally she’s built said house to lure children to her so she can eat them.
And I’m like, whoa! Hold up.
Why does she need to eat children if she can make a whole house out of food?
I’m in the process of creating characters for the sequel to my first novel and I realized:
I don’t want to do what I did last time.
It was exciting, interesting, crazy, and took way too much time.
Like many people, I had a concept and a main character for my first book, and the excitement of writing and discovering her world made it fresh and fun. But now I know better. Writing, especially when you are actually trying to write well, is hard. I want to craft stories that are interesting, that resonate with readers, and that do my characters and ideas justice. Those are tall orders.
So what I did last time—let my characters grow organically and then edit like a maniac until my eyes bled—won’t work again. Not without me becoming alcoholic at any rate.
I need a process.
I guess the first question is really this: What is the Flux Capacitor?
…it’s what makes time travel possible.
And that’s all you need to know.
What a great bit of storytelling! The entire Back to the Future franchise rests on the ability of Marty McFly and Doc Brown to travel through time in their suped-up DeLorean. But do we really need to know how time travel works? Nope. We just need to know that it does.
Therefore the Flux Capacitor makes time travel possible and it also makes the story possible. All without being explained in the slightest.
So the real question of this post is: What makes a story possible? What is it that a plot relies on to make all the action which follows it make sense? If you are writing a story, do you know what is special about your story which allows it to happen?
I’m a Buffy girl from way back.
The movie was the spark, but the show was the bomb! The seven-year series was creative, entertaining, enlightening, and sometimes controversial (perhaps one day I’ll post on the Willow-becomes-a-lesbian saga). Some of the storylines were not as strong as others, but there was always a compelling reason to watch the show.
One of the things Joss Whedon did brilliantly was to create the ‘disappearing vampire.’ When Buffy staked it through the heart – or managed some other fantastic kill shot – poof! Dust in the wind.
From a storytelling standpoint, this worked well because:
“O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?”
Said a love-struck teenage girl.
And NO ONE else.
A hardened military veteran is not uttering said phrase.
Neither a priest nor a prostitute nor a plumber.
Even if all of them were women.
This is the third part in a series on finding your way past writer’s block using history. Part One: Setting and Action and Part Two: Character may also interest you. For Part Three, we delve into the deep waters of dialogue. This is not intended to be a ‘how to write dialogue’ article. Rather I hope it will help you over some of the hurdles that I have experienced in trying to make dialogue interesting and revealing.
That was me hitting the next wall. I made quite a dent, but couldn’t make it all the way through.
In case you missed it, this post is a continuation of a series on overcoming writer’s block. Part One was all about setting and action. This post focuses on how to use a little historical research to create characters that leap off the page.
The great thing about characters is that you are not necessarily limited to your story’s time period. People of all types lived during all ages.