Thursday, October 4, 2007

Monkeying Around with Juxtaposition

You've got a story that needs some spicing up. Perhaps you've started with a great idea, then it lost its way. Perhaps you've got a great character, but you don't have situations for her. Plot pitfalls like this happen all the time.

For instance, your character could've had enough at work and told her boss to shove it in a scene that has working women all over shouting, "You go girl!" We're talking about a real glory quit. She heads home to face a future that is very different from the one she woke up to. You, however, have no idea what that is yet.

As she turns the key to her apartment and steps inside, though, she finds this:

That's juxtaposition, baby!

The last thing she expects is a giant silverback gorilla bashing the skins to a Phil Collins song. That's interesting. Why? Because we, as writers, will want to know what happens next. And so will your readers.

Characters are defined by how they react to situations. Readers go through these vicarious experiences with characters. When you use juxtaposition to introduce unlikely elements to a story - be they new characters, new events, or new whatevers - you have the chance to hook readers and let your character grow.

And sometimes, you might even stumble into a story that is more interesting than the one you started with.

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