Think Aloud explores book-related discussions encompassing reading, writing, blogging, and perhaps newsworthy content. The focus is to push the boundaries, stretch the mind, and encourage dialogue within this community. Let’s all think out loud.
Why Are Heroes & Villains
Never Stuck in Traffic?
Fair representation of character struggles should involve travelling to a destination prior to the final boss fight.
Imagine this terrible example (in their voices):
Hermione: Harry, are you sure he said 7 o’clock?
Harry: Let me text him—
Hermione: Harry, you don’t have a—
Harry: *Accio Cellphone*
Ron: Cauldron cake, anyone?
Now look, I’m not speaking to the coincidental run-ins between the hero and the villain throughout the story. All those villainy monologues? Bearable. Those near-death escapes? Necessary. It’s everything right before the “final boss fight” where pacing is most magical.
Because without the manipulation of time (as it relates to the importance of event conflict), your heroes and villains would be stuck in the limbo of waiting for their commuter vehicles or stuck in perpetual gridlock. You laugh now…but realistically, you know it’s damn true. These characters would be on the highway all like:
Scene 1a: “Lol this traffic, am I right?” *everyone groans*
Scene 1b: “We’ll get there in 20…30 tops!” *said the hero an hour ago*
“Ask me ‘if we’re there yet’ one more time. I dare you” *you say while holding a dangerous weapon–* Damn, that took a rather dark turn.
I’m not even going to provide an example of the abundance of stories that don’t even feature automobiles where characters have to walk to their destination.
But you know what the flip side to all this is?
Timing isn’t some discrete concept you can just say “hey villain, we still on for 10pm tomorrow?”
To jump from A to B to C without a nod to these pockets of time—where you’re stuck in transit jamming to Top 40 songs or being that character asking the ageless “are we there yet?” question—is nonsense when you, as the reader, probably spend hours travelling everyday. Imagine if you miss the last flight for the night—yikes.
This goes for both heroes and villains.
Now don’t me wrong: I’m not saying that readers would love to see characters stuck in traffic in a non road trip-centric story. Instead, I wonder why redundant moments of travel aren’t represented.
This doesn’t even include the amount of fucks up and obstructions that get in the way during travels. Frodo didn’t get to Mount Doom within a page. Heck, things were made hella worse after that “fly you fools” nonsense a la Gandalf. It ain’t rainbows, sunshines, and constantly fuel tanks. It’s traffic, life itself, and brick walls.
I call this: “The Bus Runs On Sunday, Right?”
Case in point: pacing is an unsung hero in fiction. A bunch of shit can happen travelling to that final boss fight; only we never really see it.
But should we?
As a narrative tool, pacing is somewhere here and there; not about how fast or slow it is but rather featuring events for what they are as it reflects the value creation in the story being told.
There’s an argument that character development remains at the forefront of downtime and I’d expect the same from you (that’s you, reader) with your friends and family cooped up in a tiny metal box. You talk, you grow, and you become someone different than you were five minutes ago. Change is dynamic; it happens. If you choose to withhold these moments, can we really say we’ve witnessed the gradient of grey that stretches between black and white?
Don’t even get me started on villains or heroes waiting for the other party to show up. You can’t just show up 2 hours late, offer me Taco Bell, pretend everything is awesome, and then expect me to want to fight you. I’d be long gone and rolling around in my afternoon nap. We’d have to reschedule…
…unless you bring me Chipotle. Then I’m sure we can meet halfway.
Now on to some things for you to think about:
I’m curious: on average, how long do you spend commuting (all modes of transport inclusive)?
What’s your threshold toward waiting on someone who’s incredibly late? What if it was the villain/hero you were waiting for? Would you leave?
What are some books that feature intense levels of travelling that you may or may not have enjoyed?
And finally, what is your stance on heroes/villains being realistically stuck in traffic? (Not limited by genre–this can really apply anywhere).
As always, think aloud.
Rhetoric and satire. And das one discussion down for 2016, a billion more to go…