Many difficulties come standard in the task of writing child protagonists. To a certain point, a person is a person no matter how small, but there are subtle differences in younger characters. Their behavior can be slightly different from that of an adult— less logical at times, or not quite sure of morals yet. Their physical limitations, of course, must differ. A ten-year-old boy cannot take the same amount of knocks on the head as the adult hero of an epic fantasy (there is considerable debate on whether the hero himself can take that many hits realistically, but the point remains). Most importantly, however, there is a child’s place in society to consider.
Any middle grade fantasy will grind to a halt when the child’s parents decide she can’t cross the street without permission.
But books about children have been around for centuries, from the Brothers Grimm to C.S. Lewis. Many people have solved this problem for their stories, many different ways. (more…)
Posted by Liam Wood on August 24, 2014
A romance is never just about the romance.
Whether subplot or main plot, a romance plot line is not about the love itself. It’s about the process of falling in love. Now, as we know well from Disney, that process can take place within the space of a single song. Unfortunately, that’s a three-minute character arc. Romance introduced— romance over with. Everyone is bored, let’s get back to the explosions.
That’s why romance is never just about the romance. Romance can be a really quick thing, but we need it to take longer. We need it to cover hundreds of pages, ramping up conflict and tension between characters as they near the climax. If we introduce and finish the romance quickly, it’s ineffective, not worth including. Either that, or really good for a joke.
If left to itself, a romantic plot line would resolve itself in less than three minutes, with song, dance, and birdies chirping. That’s why you can’t leave it to itself. You have to figure out a way to slow it down, while making it feel like it can’t possibly go any faster. You have to create romantic tension.
Romantic tension is what allows a romance plot to slow down and yet remain engaging. The reader knows two people ought to get together, but something is keeping them apart— even though it’s hardly life or death, that much tension can keep the reader reading in this style of plot. How to create romantic tension? One word: obstacles. (more…)
Posted by Liam Wood on August 21, 2014
This seems to happen a lot nowadays: I’ll say something that I think is true, and then get turned on my head by something I see a day or two later.
A few days ago, I commented on Charley R.’s blog and said that “I think… it’s better to be born with the ability to craft a great story than the ability to tell one. You can learn to make your prose ring– it’s harder to learn to make original stories.” That comment got me thinking about Christopher Paolini and how, though he had a good writing style, his stories needed work on the originality front. I started to wonder why people liked him at all. (more…)
Posted by Liam Wood on September 25, 2012