Friday, September 21, 2007

Rules of the speculative

When writing speculative fiction, you have to have some ground rules for the speculative elements. You generally don't want your magicians to be too powerful, or you open your story up to all kinds of disasters. In horror, you usually need some kind of limits for your monsters, otherwise they become absurd. What all this really comes down to is this: If your protagonist has absolutely no chance at winning and/or surviving, then your story is flat out going to flop because you are giving your reader nothing to hold onto from a plot and emotional level. Now, whether your protagonist actually wins or survives is not the issue. The issue is whether the protagonist at least has the perception ... the possibility ... of being able to triumph.

On the flip side, if your protagonist is a magician or has some sort of powers or magic, you don't want him or her to be all powerful either. Making things too easy for your character can also ruin a story.

A good story needs tension. To do that you need to strike a balance between your protagonist and antagonist.

Yes, your big bad monster might seem unstoppable, but there has to be some way to stop it, or at least a perception there is some way to stop it. No one wants to read a story about an all-powerful being, good or bad, who can do absolutely anything and get away with it. That's not a story. At best, it's a wet dream.

So ... balance is the key. Your rules to strike this balance might be vague, rattling around in the back of your head, or they might be concrete, something you've written down. But you need those rules to keep that balance. One rule might be something simple or even silly, such as your wizard is allergic to onions, or it could be something morecomplex, such as your monster has a vulnerable spot but it's only vulnerable on a certain night of the month.


Howard von Darkmoor said...

wet dreams and certain nights of the month . . . what kind of blog has this become!??????????;)

Ty said...

Hey, remember a while back when this blog was rated G? Just maybe I'm trying to fix that.