Friday, July 30, 2010

Electricity and Writing

Electricity is a fascinating thing. You can cook a hotdog by plugging it into a wall socket, but a bird can sit on a high voltage line and not be harmed. Using a curling iron in the bathtub could kill you, but lightning strikes the ocean all the time with no harm to the sea life. Electricity works when there is a difference in voltage and a path that the current can follow.

Okay, other than to say that some writers need to take a physics class before they kill off any more characters with electricity, I am going somewhere writing related with this. Stories, are about relationships and a means by which those relationships can be revealed. Let’s say we have two characters, A and B. For the sake of this discussion, let’s say A is like the ground and has a voltage of zero (an arbitrary value). A is a normal average citizen, but B is a high voltage guy. He is a drug dealer and a murderer. As long as A stays in his part of town and B stays in his part of town, there’s no story because they never come in contact. It’s as if we’re missing the wire to connect them. But let’s suppose that B meets A’s daughter and decides that he must have her. Now we have a story. A’s daughter serves as the conduit through which the conflict flows.