I know I promised you a long blog post on “Avoiding Predictability While Satisfying the Reader.” Unfortunately, I came down sick for a week the day after I promised to post it. Wiped me out for a few weeks. But I’m back to writing now, including working on that blog post. So…it’s coming. The draft is already a bit over a thousand words long.
In the meantime, I thought the following post, taken from one I made on Facebook in response to some questions readers had about The Price of Freedom, might be of interest to writers.
Attn: Aspiring writers. Interested in how experienced novelist juggle character motivation, plot, and other factors in creating dramatic tension in a book? I just wrote a post over on the Walt Disney World Radio FB site where their book club is reading The Price of Freedom. A couple of the readers asked why I wrote Jack and Teague’s relationship the way I did. I wrote a fairly lengthy response, which illustrates how writers keep multiple plot and characterization “balls” in the air, as they create stories, so I’m going to copy the post over here. It helps if you’ve read The Price of Freedom (and if you haven’t, why not? ), but I think it makes sense even if you haven’t. Here’s what I wrote:
Okay, in the question of Jack and Teague’s obviously strained relationship: I had multiple and varied reasons for writing it the way I did in The Price of Freedom. Here they are:
1. Film canon: at the time I wrote my book, “On Stranger Tides” was a distant dream. All I had to go on about Jack and Teague’s relationship was what we saw of the two of them in “At World’s End.” In that scene, we saw a ruthless Teague who had just shot a man dead for questioning The Code, and Jack was plainly wary of him…backing away from him, obviously nervous, and unnaturally (for Jack) quiet. When Teague addressed Jack, he said, “You’re in my way, boy.” Hardly a friendly greeting!
2. Jack and Beckett subplot and characterization arc: I wanted to compare and contrast Cutler Beckett and Jack Sparrow to show their relationship, in preparation for the climax, which is the famous “Mark” they left on each other. (In Jack’s case it’s physical, the brand, in Beckett’s case it’s psychological…Jack more or less broke his heart. ) I decided that both men needed reasons to be exiled from where they’d grown up and from those who raised them. So I gave both Jack and Beckett major Father Issues.
3. Plot: I needed Jack to be scared of Teague, and for good reason, so he would have more motivation to leave the world of Shipwreck Cove behind in his attempt to “go straight.” If Jack hadn’t been that scared of Teague’s vengeance, knowing the Keeper of the Code’s devotion to enforcing The Code, he might not have found the courage to exile himself from everything he’d known his entire life.
4. Characterization: Most young people rebel to some extent. I thought to myself, “how would a pirate’s son rebel?” Well, by attempting to become law-abiding. Unconsciously, in addition to all the practical reasons Jack had to leave piracy behind in becoming an honest merchant seaman, he also did it because he knew it would majorly piss Teague off if the Keeper of the Code ever found out about what his son had done. Jack’s unconscious way of “flipping the bird” at his overbearing father/captain.
And there you have it, mates. Savvy?