Friday, September 13, 2013

Hidden Pleasures

A story must have difficulties, struggles, or battles. Without them there is no plot. However, to balance these you can give your story a delicious dribble of sugary icing: pleasures. Let your hero experience them, and let your reader experience them vicariously. Common examples of pleasures include winning a battle, gaining wealth, gaining a new and valuable ability, tasting food or drink, and the obvious one obsessed about by commercial advertisers and, unfortunately, many movie script writers: the one I don't need to mention. Go sparingly on that one, as it has been heavily overdone. Try to be unique.


"The second his unshod feet touched a carpet of tender young grass at the edge of the sandy shore, Alexander hoped he might have finally found a safer place to harbor. Mulberries beckoned to him from the leaves of trees at the edge of a small natural grove. A rock pool fed by an inland stream looked drinkable. Alex let his eyes follow the stream as far as he could away from the sea. They stopped when they met two sapphire gems blinking back at him from the creek's rockbed center. Only these weren't gems, he told himself, they were eyes, eyes that had apparently been watching him for several minutes."

In a short space our hero has found a pleasant touch to his feet, and the hope of food, water, and maybe companionship, all pleasures human beings can appreciate and enjoy, even vicariously. It helps if what you're describing can be compared to something the reader has actually experienced. I, for instance, have tasted mulberries. If you think your reader hasn't, you will need to fill him or her in on what it tasted like.

"The berry was sweet, but also had a pleasant tanginess, quite consistent with what he expected by the way it looked, which was very similar to a raspberry, with a staining juice the color of dark purple grapes."

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