Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Selection, selection, selection
Okay, enough preamble, because I don't know how to introduce this except by saying: Select the right event, and the right VERSION of the event.
Let's say you want to show that your hero doesn't trust in the future. (What conflict would cause that?) And you know -- just know -- that you can show the effect this has on his life by suggesting the perfect symbol for the future-- a baby.
But you want to save the actual baby decision for the end of the story, to show hero triumphing over his despair and cynicism. You want to show earlier in the story how he refuses to take this route to the future, so when his wife wants to have a baby, he refuses, even to the point that she leaves him.
Now my question for you is, under what circumstances would you have it be that she wants to conceive with him? And in what case would you want it to be that she wants to adopt a baby (let's say, in this case, she can't conceive)?
Do you see what I mean? Both scenarios will bring a baby into their lives, that wonderful symbol of the future, that distraction from despair, that source of joy.
What difference would it make what the delivery method is? Well, you tell me. There is no right answer here-- it all depends on what you want for him-- what sort of conflict, what sort of resolution, and also, I think, it might depend on how major a character she is. (That is, if she's another protagonist, you might want the infertility conflict so that she too has a journey.)
So what implications does it have if what he refuses is to conceive a child (that is, a more passive resistance), and what if he refuses to adopt? What message does each send about his attitude and conflict? What does each symbolize for him? What in fact is he refusing with each?
That is, there's a difference in what precise conflict or attitude would best be explored with refusal to conceive and which with refusal to adopt. Since you're the one in charge of selecting events, in what case would you choose which?
What I'm trying to get at so awkwardly is that nuance matters-- we should use a scalpel, not a butcher knife, to carve this sculpture of story. So your turn-- you're in charge in comments. Give us a scenario where the right "babymaking" event that he refuses (and then in the end, presumably, accepts) is conception with his wife, and one where the right event is adoption. I have some ideas, of course, but don't know... I just know which one will make a difference.