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Month: August 2022

Switching POV (Points of View)

Posted in Characters

Long-form storytelling is such a big project sometimes that it's helpful to be reminded of some of the mechanics underlying even the most basic of story forms. Comic strips are some of the simplest — consider the physical size limitations, just a few frames, or even only one.

In these short forms the basics really stand out.

The image above encapsulates an entire history of the interaction of two famous characters (permanent war, which the scheming coyote with his technical gadgets always loses to the roadrunner's effortless and almost magical evasions and reversals). Because of that long history, we can read the above image as the ending of a story with a reversal of the usual outcome.

One image, and a long history of character roles/knowledge on the part of the viewer, and we know most of the story already.

Think of all the prior knowledge we had to bring to that image — we did most of the work ourselves. We had to already know they were antagonists, that the coyote almost always lost, that the coyote's means were usually elaborate mechanical devices.

A writing prompt

Posted in Characters, and Plot

I was just cruising through book ads in my email, and came across this one (names X'd, since the identity of author/title are not relevant):

Bxxxxx is destined from birth to become a warrior, despite his farmer’s life. But when the Hillmen kill his family and annihilate his clan, he now has the opportunity to avenge those who he loved.

Bxxxxx must survive endless hordes of invading Hillmen and magic-wielding sidhe, aided by only a band of shifty mercenaries, and an ancient bronze sword.

Failure means his family and clan go unavenged. Victory will bring glory to Bxxxxx and his ancestors.

So, bog-standard sort of fantasy, and nothing wrong with that. It's just that I was in a hurry going through my morning emails (and I'm not getting any younger) and misread it, and was startled by the mistake into a reread.

I read:

“a band of shifty mercenaries, and an ancient bronze sword”


“a band of mercenaries, and a shifty bronze sword.”

Wow! Now that's a lot more intriguing. Not just an intelligent sword, but one that clearly has its own motivations and will, and probably an unreliable relationship with Bxxxxx.

In fact, I wonder if the sword is a companion for Bxxxxx or just a foil (sorry), or if instead the sword is really the hero, using Bxxxxx to achieve its aims.

Or, depending on the sketchy grammar in the ad (“who” vs “whom”), maybe the sword isn't morally dubious — maybe it actually shifts its form…

The possibilities spiral out from there, don't they? And they all seem like a potential improvement.