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

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Strategy # 7 Harmful Dangers

Build Your Story: 8 Strategies for Writing Innovative Setting with Impact

“The hero faces natural fears. They include the terrors of height, fire, wild animals, creepy things, dark places, claustrophobic spaces, physical combat, inhospitable environments, monsters, evil spirits, and perils involving water: storms at sea, rapids and so on.” James N Frey

Introduction: Dangers
Once we’ve built up a substantial setting with focused landscape, buildings, and territory, then we want to develop the personal sensory history and vocabulary as a strong first layer. This is when we can shape an undergirding of shadows and foretelling for danger and secrets and plot seeds. When appropriate we can also add a mythic echo. Look for ways to reverse, or cloud, the effect as well.

For example, red roses are a common symbol of love or affection. So suppose a man in your story brings a red rose to your protagonist as a gesture of friendship. However, as a young child your heroine found her beloved mother dead with mutilated red roses clutched in her hands, and the perfume filling the tiny room.
For her, the red rose triggers grief, and now possibly danger. Did the man really not know, or is it a veiled threat? How will she react? Your choices will be determined by the genre as well as the level of suspense required.

If, in an earlier scene, the reader discovered this information, then he is on alert for motives and reaction. However perhaps, like the young man, she is just finding out how difficult this gesture is. Both ways will need a different way of handling the sensory highlights.

In addition red roses have a history of typology in myth, such as Snow White and Rose Red to name a few. What details from a folktale could be inserted and for what reason? If a light romance you might choose to highlight the connection with touches of humor. But in a dark fantasy it would work better if only you know the connection to the folktales and let the emotion alone carry the story line. The echo will resonate without being spelled out and pulling your reader out of the story world.

Share: From the list Frey gives in the quote above, which would put your character in the most immediate danger?

Read deep, marcy

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