Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Contrast: A Great Writing Tool by Diana Flegal

Light/ Dark



Every good story has the push/pull of contrast. A character we love to hate. A crisis that requires a hero or a problem that needs to be solved.

But how it is woven into the story line is the key to its success.

A few questions I always ask when doing a critique are: Are the characters believable? Is this a plausible situation or just random tension thrown into the plot line? Sequentially, is this doable?

In the book Snoopy's Guide to the Writing Life, Charles Shultz and his Peanuts comic script often expressed the thrill and the agony of the writing life. Snoopy penned these lines in one comic strip: It was a dark and stormy night. Suddenly a shot rang out. The maid screamed. A door slammed. Suddenly a pirate ship appeared on the horizon! “This twist in the plot will baffle my readers”, said Snoopy. (Might just be one reason Snoopy was always receiving those rejection slips).   

One does not want to baffle their readers.

Literary Devices shares here examples of the way contrast is employed in some well known writing.

I would imagine as you read this blog a particular story you enjoyed, or a movie you have recently seen, popped into your mind.

A few that came to my mind as I constructed the list above were: Fiddler on the Roof, War and Peace, The Agony and the Ecstasy, Les’ Miserables, You’ve Got Mail, Alice in Wonderland, and even Forrest Gump.

Take some time and think about each of the books you have recently read and list the ways their characters were in contrast, or ask yourself where and when in the story their situation changed, or love was won or lost. There is always contrast involved in the evolution of your characters.     
And definitely stop by and peruse these many Snoopy images on the writing life. Caution though, you might just get a stich in your side from laughing so hard.


Wendy L. Macdonald said...

Thank you, Diane. This is timely for me as I've started going over my latest project after having let it rest for a few weeks. Fresh eyes help me spot whether my characters are believable/likable or not. Snoopy always makes me smile. :)
Blessings ~ Wendy

Linda Glaz said...

So true. Nothing worse than characters that don't engage good and bad. Great post!