A to Z Challenge 2013

Friday, July 15, 2011

An Inconvenient Story

 Imagine Achilles as a child growing up.  The story we all know portrays him as an invincible warrior, but lets play what if.    There is no child I know of that doesn't trip and fall while running.  That chance of falling is doubled when running backwards.  So here is the awesome Achilles backpedaling, he trips over a rough stone (hitting his heel no less), and suddenly we have a huge crybaby who has never felt real pain before this day.  Imagine how different his life would have been after that moment.  Here's a snippet of conversation from his classmates:

"Don't pick anyone before Achilles gets here.   He's the best in the school with a spear."

"Why, so we can watch him bawl if he trips over his own feet?  That wimp isn't as tough as everyone thought.  Hell, I could beat him up with one good sweep.  Let his Mama wipe his tears again while we all laugh."

And so Achilles is picked last for spear tossing, permanently altering his life path.  Imagine how hard it must have been for his Mom to discipline Achilles.  It's not like she could spank him, since he wouldn't really feel it.  I can see her going  back to the river to dip her hand in, just so she could smack his butt when he got out of hand.

Where I'm going with this is the idea of convenience.  The myths ignore all these possibilities because it's more convenient to say he was perfect (except for an understandably over-inflated ego) and didn't have to deal with these types of trivial things.  He had the convenience of an easy upbringing where damage to his heel (and therefore his life possibly) was never an issue.

To tie this in with my own writing, I have an issue in a WiP.  In the beginning of story my MC runs into a pretty girl working in a coffee shop.  When I first wrote it, she was intended to be a way to further illustrate how my MC deals with the opposite sex rather than being an important character.  But when I had multiple people critique it, they unanimously expressed the idea that these two should be involved more in some way.  After giving it some thought, I have come to agree with them.  My problem is how to make that happen.

After briefly meeting her, my MC spends his last bit of money on two bus rides across town.  The rest of the story (so far anyway) takes place on that side of town.  In order to have these two meet up, I would have to conveniently allow them to see each other again.  I haven't really come up with a good way to make this happen, but I'm hoping it will come to me soon.

Convenience in a story is irritating.  I dislike it in writing, and I especially dislike it in movies.  I'm trying to learn how to write things more smoothly so that I avoid this type of thing, but I can't say I've mastered it yet.  I've ranted on this long enough, but I'll put the question out there for anyone that has any good ideas.   How do you avoid convenience in your writing?

Have a nice weekend everyone.


Nisa said...

I don't. Considering that, we the writers, contrive the story in the first place, I think it's all about convenience. What happens is what we want to happen. We hold the pen. To make it look less contrived, I would have them meet somewhere where they would naturally both have business/errands like the grocery store or post office. What do they have in common? Do they both like hiking? Trips to a nearby lake? Books? Good luck!

Shopgirl said...

I like the story you outlined here, it sounds intriguing. I admire that you took advice from others and is doing (sounds like a major) rework to it.

Also agree with Nisa that authors create stories according to the plot so the changes seem to fit into that. One thought I had was asking people that age about their way of chance meeting the opposite sex. Could it open up some ideas?

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Since we are the creators, think of it in terms of the movie Inception - bend your world to suit your story.
Maybe that girl lives on the other side of town?

Travis Erwin said...

It won;t be a convenience if you set it up well enough before hand. They need a common interest or the mention of a place they will meet later. Then when it happens it doesn't seem as far fetched.

Travis Erwin said...

Sometimes you gotta write backwards before you can move forward.

Icy Roses said...

This drives me crazy when I'm writing, and sometimes, I overanalyze what appears contrived and what is genuine. If you're going to get all technical, really EVERYTHING is contrived. It's in how convincing you can make it look to the reader. I sort of think of it as a chasm, a leap in logic, and it's your job to build the bridge that allows the reader to cross from one side to another. Convenience is always hard to fix though. Good luck!

Eric said...

Thank you everyone for all the great advice. I have been thinking over this all weekend and have some good tendrils of ideas. My post this evening will reflect that, so thanks!

Debbie Maxwell Allen said...

Isn't it interesting how readers really connect with a minor character, and convince you to change the plot? Love it.