I was in the middle of a new work (yes, another one) and my thoughts started drifting away. Not because there was a Deadliest Catch marathon playing all day on Discovery, but because of a mild epiphany.
My mind was wandering and wondering, where am I really going with this? I was writing a thriller with familiar characters and a familiar plot. Woman – Man – Betrayal – Revenge.
Although my story had some interesting twists and the action in the narrative kept me from boredom, the overall synopsis was a bit cliche. Woman – Man – Betrayal – Revenge.
Familiar plots serve a purpose for the writer and the reader. The writer has less of a chance to be doc-blocked because the scenario is familiar. The downside is the writer is less invested, therefore, less inspired. Weak inspiration shows in a story.
Familiar plots allow the reader to read the story without any nasty surprises. The familiar is comforting. The unfamiliar is unsettling. But, depending on the reader, unsettling is sometimes exciting. It’s a toss-up.
I’m thinking of liberalizing my story. Over the years, I’ve written from the viewpoint of women, men, children, cats, dogs and once through the eyes of a three-legged lizard. Digging deeper into the characters who have graced my stories, I’ve written from the standpoint of a motorcycle-riding middle-aged black man, a pot-smoking elderly Asian woman, and a Middle Eastern youth with a mild Yoo-hoo addiction.
As a writer, imagination lets me become my character, no matter who or what they are. I can transcend race and religion, I can immerse myself in a non-human’s struggle, I can even give substance and personality to a wisp of wind. One thing I’ve never done, however, is write from the standpoint of non-stereotypical gender unions.
I’m not sure why I’ve never done this. It has nothing to do with my view of human unions. After all, as I’ve told my friends who live same-sex lifestyles, I believe everyone deserves the right to be as legally happy or miserable as heterosexuals. It’s only fair.
During my writing pause, I wondered, what would happen if my characters were non-traditional? It’s funny because I realized not much would change. The motivation behind betrayal and revenge would remain the same. The only difference would be that the sexes of the innocent and guilty would be identical. Woman – Woman – Betrayal – Revenge. Or, Man – Man – Betrayal – Revenge.
Interesting. I broached the subject with some friends who could appreciate the character changes. Or so I thought. Like people in general, I have gay friends I would push out of the way of a speeding bus, while I have others I would push in front of it. The reactions were evenly mixed.
For now, though, I’ll finish the story with the traditional male/female roles. But, after I finish I plan to make an identical copy of the story with the traditional roles changed to non-traditional. After that, I have a feeling it will simply come down to a coin toss. Human struggle is human struggle no matter what your lifestyle.
Maybe, my next project could be writing through the eyes of a zombie. Now, that’s a story that will burrow into your brain.
ZOMBIE DOG WILL EAT YOUR HEART WITH LOVE
J J Dare is the author of two published books, several short stories and triple digit works-in-progress.
Current enthusiasm is sharpening intangible knives and co-authoring at Rubicon Ranch