Friday, March 14, 2008

Obtaining Cosmic Power!

Alternate Title 1: The Vacuum's on the Fritz!
Alternate Title 2: Haha! I Told You So!

Let me share with you a conversation I had with my wife a few minutes ago.

"I think I'll order that vacuum cleaner now," She stated as she entered the room.

"Oh yeah?" I asked, still staring at my dual monitors.

"Well, being as the other one won't even turn on anymore. I just tried for the last two minutes and nothing."

I was looking up from my work now, smiling as I watched her navigate the maze of the computer room. I slapped her on the tushie as she walked around the playpen.

"So now you're aware of my cosmic powers?" I asked.

"What cosmic powers?"

"I told you that you should have ordered it this morning, right?"

"Yeah." She was scowling now.

"Well, don't you find it odd that now it doesn't work?"

"So, you willed it to break on me?" She smiled.

"Either that or I shoved a screwdriver into it." I laughed. She wasn't smiling anymore.

I didn't really stab the vacuum with a screwdriver, that would be dangerous. No, I used a drill. Haha, I kid, I kid. In honest truth, it really was my cosmic powers that did it, but don't tell my wife! So far I've done a good job at keeping her fooled. I'd hate for something as simple as a blog post to break my cover... wait a second... doh! (Let's hope she doesn't read this.)
What's the point? Oh my gosh! What's the point?! The point is that I can command little goblins to do my bidding with sheer brainpower! Oh, wait, you mean... I gotcha. The point is that I was right and she should have listened to me. (Oh? Okay, okay. Out with it.) d=(O.o)=b

Using tools such as foreshadowing can strengthen your creative writing. There, I said it, the secret is out! What is foreshadowing exactly? Well, Dictionary.com says: Foreshadow - To present an indication or a suggestion of beforehand; presage.

What does that mean? It means you add little clues for your readers about what may or may not happen in the future. Foreshadowing can add multiple layers to your writing and there are multiple facets to the principle itself. Think of foreshadowing as leaving little breadcrumbs for your readers to follow as they navigate the adventure that is your story, nothing more. You shouldn't make your breadcrumbs in-your-face obvious or they aren't any fun. Effective foreshadowing will elicit such comments as:
  • "You idiot! Don't open the closet!!!"
  • "Oh man, the business proposal, why did you leave it on the counter!?!?"
  • "That's RIGHT! I remember the wall being cracked. So that's what that was all about."

Another good use of foreshadowing is the Red Herring - this is a plot device used to throw off the scent, mixing in false assumptions with real clues so that the reader is unsure of future events.
  • There's nothing in the closet after all.
  • It's just the outside cover of the business proposal, the documents are safe in the briefcase.
  • The protagonist thinks there is something with the crack in the wall but it ends up being nothing. (Maybe while frustrated the protagonist kicks the bookshelf and notices something important...)
For really big plot twists foreshadowing can be your friend. If the reader is left thinking, "Yeah right, and how exactly did they just so happen to come across that?" then you haven't done your job. The truth is that life isn't easy for the majority of us, why should it be easy for your characters? One of my biggest disappointments regarding this was Prison Break Season 2. Agent Mahone was always figuring out what Michael Scofield's next move was at the last possible second and arriving just in time to be a nuisance. That's just lazy writing in my opinion. If your readers/viewers wouldn't have figured it out with the available information your characters shouldn't be able to either, but if they just so happen to be that smart, don't throw them the bone at every twist it gets annoying. If you want to create suspense you're going to have to put a little elbow grease into it.
I stopped watching Prison Break about halfway through. I don't watch a whole lot of television but that was one show I watched regularly. Correct use of foreshadowing and suspense can keep your readers interested and begging to find out what comes next.

Unfortunately, the vacuum really is broken. And yes, that conversation really did take place. Be careful with those red herrings, there's nothing funnier than slapping someone in the face with a smelly fish, but slap someone too many times and they probably won't be laughing. Sure it's funny to you but you know what they say about the only person laughing in a room full of people? They say that person must have passed gas. (read: farted.) Don't be that guy.

Writing Exercise:

(the angry dollmaker)
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