As a writer of mostly dark things, it’s interesting to consider the types of problems I sometimes encounter in coming up with plot points. Obviously, creativity is of utmost importance, but there are certain plot devices that are just about overdone. And when I find myself needing to scrape those barrels for my own stories, I tend to get cautious. This is why I am having trouble with getting my sort-of-kind-of zombie novel off the ground and moving at a fast pace. I am trying to do something different within a genre where nearly everything has already been done.
Another example of this comes in the form of an idea that I have been bouncing around in my head for a few weeks. The only writing I have done amounts to a very rough outline and a 2 paragraph summary. I have the first 80% of it prepped and ready to go; in fact, I can’t wait to start it. But the problem is this: to get the idea to work, I need to make a lot of people very sick in a small window of time.
Outbreak stories are pretty common and I’m sure there are many ways to do something that feels new. The great thing about writing such a topic in fiction is that you can sort of manipulate it with different shifts in character POV and even jumping around in the timeline of the story. This can be tricky too because as writers, we want the best, most direct way to tell the story (well, in most cases). Take King’s The Stand for instance. You know folks are going to be sick within the first 3 or 4 pages. And to me, I think one of the strongest moments of the book is when Stu Redman witnesses the military coming into his small Texas town to round up the infected. It is a clever, powerful scene that just straight out tells the story. That scene was one of the spookiest things about The Stand in my opinion.
Well, that and some of the casting choices for the movie.
So that’s my challenge for the week. In the midst of writing on Everything Theory, Book 2, I need to come up with a way to make a lot of people sick. I am already pretty certain the government will be involved but I don’t know how. Ah, the problems of an aspiring writer….
I welcome you all to leave some inventive ways to make a lot of innocent folks deathly ill. It seems like a lively way to kick off a Monday morning.