Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Throw the Cat in the Water

As states go, Kansas doesn’t strike me as a very interesting place. That, I’m sure, is why Dorothy and Toto hitched a ride on an outgoing cyclone and went for a visit in the Land of Oz. The Land of Oz is a sharp contrast to Kansas. As boring as Kansas might seem, it turns out that it is more interesting to have a character in Kansas than to have him do nothing but talk on the phone, especially if he doesn’t want to be in Kansas.

I have a character that I had talking on the phone and it was about what you would expect. When I put this city slicker in the middle of Kansas farm country, suddenly, something as simple as a business meeting became an adventure.

When we get our characters outside of their comfort zones, good things happen. It’s a little like throwing a cat in a swimming pool to see what will happen. Throw a fish in a pool and no one pays much attention. It’s just a fish in a pool. Throw a cat in the water and they’ll watch to see what it does, even it they think you are being cruel. The nice thing about writing fiction is that we can be as cruel to our characters as we want and no one gets hurt. If anything, our characters are helped by our masochistic tendencies.