Month: December 2017

The Domino Effect for Writers

Writing a story is all about cause and effect. Every decision made, every action performed, has repercussions. This is pretty simple to understand and, generally, this is what we call plot. And when we limit it to the specific interactions of characters, it’s not difficult to control.

But when you write the kind of fiction I do, some actions can have far-reaching effects that are not always obvious, even though they’re pretty major. To be fair, it can be impossible to properly address all such repercussions without making a story much longer than it needs to be. Still, I don’t like the idea of just ignoring them.

And if you think this can become a pain in the ass, you’re absolutely right. Because cause and effect is like dominos. One thing leads to another, then another, and another, and at some point you just have to stop caring that the dominos are falling. Or else your 250 page book explodes to double its size, just because of the dominos.┬áThe trick is to determine how many dominos need to fall to make the story feel complete without being bloated.

I need to stop writing blogs when hungry.

One Nation Under God is my dystopian future novel. It was published in 2004 and is set in the years 2021 – 2030. The main character is the young daughter of the newly-elected president. One of my test readers pointed out that, while I was covering a lot of domestic social issues, I’d neglected to talk about international things, especially the ongoing conflict in the Middle East. Truth is, I figured that since that conflict had no bearing on the plot of my story, I didn’t need to talk about it. However, it would be something the prez would have on his mind. But, because his daughter is the main character, I could limit mention of it to a bare minimum, as it wasn’t at all a concern of hers.┬áBut it woudln’t have been okay to ignore it completely. That would be like writing a novel set in the sixties and not mentioning Vietnam. It becomes the elephant in the room that no one’s talking about, but needs to.

Wait? There’s a war on?

And the more far-reaching the story itself is, the more extensive the repercussions of actions are likely to be. In Reckoning, the first book of the Dynamistress trilogy, it is revealed that Dynamistress is the only known individual to gain “super powers” by way of deliberate genetic manipulation. Even though it’s a far-fetched superhero story, I do try to keep things rooted in reality. Knowing that such a revelation would be a huge thing in the social and scientific communities, and wanting to avoid having to deal with that, I had this accomplishment be regarded as a rumor, rather than fact.

Kudos to you if you recognize this magazine cover.

However, an event in the forthcoming Renaissance, the final book of the trilogy, will bring her scientific achievements into the spotlight in a big way, so I’ll be exploring both public opinion and the inevitable scientific inquiries that she’ll be swamped with.

Ignoring elephants just isn’t a good idea.

‘Cuz they’re WAY bigger than you.

 

 

Posted by vmwales in Details, Plot, 0 comments