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Young Writers Society
Keeping the Same Events From Being Boring
Fri Jan 09, 2009 10:55 pm
[Note - this was written for CIA, and the contest was to write about what would happen if the Christmas kept coming back.]
This month, our contest is all about getting you guys to write about the same day over and over again. But if it's the same day, how do you keep it from becoming dull? It's Christmas – you wake up, open presents, eat a lot of food, and go to sleep. Having ten Christmases in a story would be rather boring, right?
Well, yeah. If you just stick with opening presents, eating food, and going to sleep every time, then it will be. But there are some things you can play around with to make it more interesting, to give the days unique twists.
Reading about how little Jimmy got a toy plane wrapped in silver paper may be important to repeat the second day, to show that it's the exact same day, but after that it just gets repetitive. Once you've set up the fact that the day is in fact exactly the same, you want to focus on the differences, not the similarities. Skip the unwrapping, or let it all just become a blur and focus on the main characters thoughts. Something to not focus on the same thing again and again.
Think about the million school-based teenage books that I know you've all read. School is in fact very repetitious. Go to first period, then second, then third, and so on. It's the same classes every day, the same subjects, the same people. But things aren't always the same. There could be a fight in the cafeteria. There could be a new student. Your main character could have a conversation with someone. Every action spurs another – every action your character makes will move your plot along.
Say you go to a rock concert tonight, the first one of your life. You're excited, right? If it were me, I'd be freaking out. I'd be terrified and pumped at the same time.
Now say you're going again tomorrow. Is it as good? Probably not. I wouldn't be scared anymore – it's not new now – and I probably wouldn't be as pumped. It's old now – nothing special.
Also, remember one event spurs another. Say your main character switched little Jimmy's birthday present. Now Jimmy gets a toy boat, not a toy plane. But what if the plane had gotten stuck in a tree, and was the reason a loose branch stayed up? Now that there's no plane there, the branch could fall – and land on the house!
Sure, that's an out-there example, but it could happen. When you change one thing, you change a lot of things.
People get bored at the same old events. Not just your readers – your characters! They'll try to make their lives interesting by changing things. Let them! Change is the spice of life.
Focusing On Reactions/Emotions
When writing a scene that they have to replay, focus on character's reactions and emotions. Focusing in on the character's reactions will not only help make the different events seem more interesting, they will also change as time changes. If you woke up the day after Christmas and it was still Christmas, you'd be shocked, right? But after about a week, you'd begin to get bored.
This happens with many different things. Just look at the stages of grief. Denial, anger, acceptance – your emotions are constantly changing.
Also, if you're exposed to the same thing day after day, you grow immune to it. Too much of a good thing grows to be just another event in your life, and too much of a bad thing loses some of its effect on you.
Make sure you ask here if you have any questions, or anything to add!
For four-fifths of our history, our planet was populated by pond scum.
— J.W. Schopf
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