I sprawled on the floor, frustrated already with the plastic dinosaur game I was playing with my five-year-old brother, J.T. The three dinosaurs, Captain Red, Captain Dinoco, and Captain Koop, were having all kinds of adventures. Supposedly. Every time I tried to narrate them into harrowing danger, J.T. would jump in with a quick, "But then, they knocked the Black Monster backward and he never came back," or "Then they discovered the Black Monster was a friend."
I was starting to lose my mind. There was no adventure! No narrow escapes! Nothing but conversation, which is good in its own rite, but should be balanced with action to be used to its best advantage.
I realized that this game illustrated what was happening to me with Seaspear. As I typed along, reaching a fork in the road, I found myself considering different courses of action and then saying in my mind, "No, that's too extreme."
If you're like me, you'll share the qualities listed below and you may have my same problem in writing.
- I hate any kind of conflict or tension between anyone I'm in contact with, even if they're people I don't like.
- I hate standing out in a crowd or being weird in public. (Except that one time when I walked around my campus with a foam sword - but I was with friends then.)
If I let these qualities transfer to my writing, I'd have a very boring story because:
- I'd want to keep all my characters safe all the time.
- I'd want to keep them all from fighting.
- I wouldn't want to think outside the box or let anything weird happen.
If you're considering a plot twist and think, "Nah, that's too extreme," that is one indication that you should use that idea! Do it! Plunge in with both feet and enjoy the adventure. You're a writer. Leave the happy birds and flowers behind, sharpen your sword and take the path that passes through the skeleton trees and the wolf's lair.