clues at the scene

clues at the scene

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Bucking Trends

A little wordplay here. At left, Buck Rogers in Amazing Stories.

Buck is appropriate for tonight because I'e been thinking of both the commonplace and the extraordinary.

It's easy to make the extraordinary be fantastical and stunning because it is extraordinary. Having my characters react as such is expected. [ Oh, attractive zombie vampires...let me swoon.]

Aliens land in Central Park: run in circles; scream and shout.


Now, aliens land in Central Park and everyone carries on normal daily existence except for maybe a group from P.S. 143 hiking over to the Metropolitan? There's a story.

Oh, fifth graders always stare at aliens. Always. Commonplace or not.

I've made a couple of mistakes in stories making the mundane too mundane and the extraordinary too much the "gee whiz golly" shock and awe.

My trick should be to make the extraordinary appear completely normal to my characters and thus use the juxtaposition between the reader's reactions and the characters reactions to creative inherent narrative tension. When you don't know the rules of the game, even tennis is an exercise in tension.

Likewise, aliens? These should be normal and customary.

Remember the bar scene in Star Wars? Luke didn't stare. He didn't even look around.

We did. It was a bizarre and strange new world to us but to the character: ho-hum. There was narrative tension between our expectations and the developing story right there on the screen.

I don't know why this came to me. I have been re-reading some old stories to see what elements I fumbled beyond those I remember fumbling. They're so old, they read like a stranger's work.

It's proved interesting. I've learned.

I learned something about Buck Rogers. The fantastic was his commonplace and we were along for the ride.

Ok - I'm too young for Buck Rogers. So are you.

Go write something you can grow old on. I will, too.

Lt's make it extraordinary. We'll both act like it is commonplace and shock the natives.


Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

This is a fun idea to play around with, Jack. I'd forgotten that bar scene in Star Wars--you're right, it was cool to see that Luke wasn't at all interested in the customers in there.

I've also got old stuff I've written (early 90s...and it was longhand) and thought, "who on earth was this person who wrote this?"

jack welling said...


Glad....the old stuff. Cringeworthy for me.