Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Best Ever Plotting Advice
From the time he could speak, Sean's favorite games involved role-playing. His favorite weekend activity was fishing with his dad. On Mondays, it became our tradition to remove the sofa cushions so that the sofa became a canoe. From that makeshift canoe, Sean caught fish that would make Moby Dick look like a minnow. But far and away his favorite role was that of an Indian brave named Fierce Eagle. My roles in these games changed from day to day, sometimes minute to minute. Fierce Eagle's favorite pastime was hunting buffalo. Guess who was cast as the buffalo? In this scenario, I crawled around the house on all fours while Fierce Eagle hid around corners and behind furniture, bow and arrow at the ready. Sometimes I was a greedy paleface who had cheated Fierce Eagle's people out of their land. Other days, I was a horse thief, a treaty breaker, a violator of sacred burial ground, a railroad builder. Name any crime against the Indian nations, I committed it. I was a thoroughly dispicable character.
For these offenses, I was tied to chairs with shoelaces, shot with rubber-tipped arrows, scalped with a plastic knife ... the list goes on. As I said, it was exhausting - and hard on my grandmotherly knees. One day in what I thought was a moment of genius, I told him the story of Chief Joseph. Afterwards, I said, "Sean, why don't we pretend to be a different kind of Indian today? Let's be wise, old chiefs and teach our people to live in peace and harmony.
It took him about five seconds (no more than that) to answer: "Grandma, peace and harmony are boring!"
There you have it. Best Ever Plotting Advice. Don't bore your reader. Worry them. Happily ever after is nice, but make them earn it.