Monday, April 11, 2011

Tit for Tat

Ever have some slow-moving driver in front of you?  Usually it happens when you're in a hurry to get somewhere, and you're already running behind.  No doubt you curse, and swear.  If it's safe, you swerve out of the way.  Then what?  You keep flyin', or do you get even?

I'd be lying not to admit there have been times I've pulled in front of them, and slowed down to pretty near a full stop to turn right.  And, I also can't say I've signaled for every person I cut in front of.  (Should I be ashamed?)  It's just sometimes, they really don't deserve it.  They were going slow enough that I could run faster, and pass them - why should they get a blinker of notice that I'm coming?  They didn't seem concerned when they were holding me up.

I call all this my "Tit for Tat" theory.  I believe it lives in most of us, if not all of us.  It manifests itself in action, and speech.  You know those *snap* moments, where you jab back with the perfect comeback, at the perfect time.  Most of these moments, result in a sting for the receiver, but sometimes can feel liberating if we're the one doing the talking.  I blame it on bad days, and people getting on my case.  Sometimes, it just motivates you to spread more "joy" into the world.

How can we apply this to our writing?
This is a fun one.  By infusing our MS with the "Tit for Tat" theory, we have an other viable element of conflict.

Why not put your MC in a scene with someone (or team them for the entire novel) that possesses traits or qualities they can't stand?  Make it so the other character can't stand your MC.  And it doesn't have be flagrantly obvious.  Let dialogue, or action handle it.  Show, don't tell.

It doesn't even have to be the antagonist.  It can be interaction between your MC, and a relatively minor character.  Speaking from experience, the "Tit for Tat" theory is fun to write!

What about you?  Have you put this to work in your book?  What other examples of the "Tit for Tat" theory can you think of, or had experience in being part of, and/or witnessing?