marycatelli (marycatelli) wrote,

answer the question

Or, how to avoid writing a shaggy dog story.

The story will raise questions in your reader's mind.  (We hope.  If not, go work on that first.  0:)

You want to answer that question in a surprising and unusual manner.  That means you need to answer that question and no other.  Switching the question you will answer is bad story-telling.  It deforms the story.

I remember some. . . .

A character is wandering about, having lost his friends, and with amnesia.  (For good reason.)  He falls in with enemies who try to convert him, and other characters who try to get him to think about.  Then he meets up with his friends -- and one of the other characters murders him out of hand.  While he is still trying to decide -- that much is clear.  arggh.  The question was when was he going to realize.  (I would have preferred him to be rescued too, but that's me, being a sucker for a happy ending.)

A driveling, self-absorbed idiot conflicts with another character.  I read that entire book in hopes that that the idiot would get a well-deserved slam upside the head.  No such luck.

A man forces a woman into marriage so that her lands would not be claimed by the other side in a war, who planned to stage a marriage by proxy.  She is not pleased with being a pawn.  They managed to reconcile the romance plot -- without his ever acting her in a manner that showed she was not a pawn in his eyes.  Yes, he risked his life to save her.  But men risk their lives in war, and she was a valuable pawn.

These are not good ideas, on the whole.
Tags: aesthetics, endings, plotting, rants, set-up, unity of theme

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