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“You enter the extraordinary by way of the ordinary.” ~Frederick Buechner

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Building a Story World

No Language

This is probably not a good choice for an entire novel, but could be adapted for brief scenes, especially if it ties to the plot and theme. The question then is, what other methods of communication would be possible if words or language are not successful or not available? And would it enhance your story’s atmosphere?

In one Star Trek episode Captain Kirk was forced onto a planet surface to fight a beast. He had no idea what was happening and it seemed impossible to communicate with the alien leader he was stranded with. But gradually Kirk realized that the alien spoke in metaphors, and finally they found a way to speak to each other and to survive the attack. It was quite different from the usual episodes and one that forced the viewer to work harder. Yet it became a popular episode. It fit the circumstances of the story.

Law enforcement often communicates with signals. Magicians have built in codes to their assistants. Sign language, lip reading, and body gestures can all be incorporated for communication.

Exercise: Make a list of all the no language possibilities you can think of. One student mentioned the use of flag semaphore, which was a new concept for me.

Share yours.

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