Either they are going to be friends, or one is intending to attack the other.

The wonderful thing about stories is that they can contain many sorts of unlikely friendships like predators and prey being the best of buddies and never wondering how the other might taste. For example, there’s the friendship of the lion and the tuna (plus his school of friends who can construct a breathing aparatus out of kelp) from “The Other Guys” that you would have to pause if you want to attempt to catch all the jokes and references. There’s the homunculus and the forest brownie from Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke (admittedly, they were at each other’s throats at first. But they did become buddies in the end!) Here are a couple other examples:

  • Tommy and Petra in The Calder Game by Blue Balliette (though admittedly, their friendship was a little bit inevitable seeing as they both had Calder as a friend).
  • Lord Umber and the woman in charge of his accounts (though she is more like a terrifying aquaintance you don’t want to talk to) from Happenstance Found by P.W. Catanese.
  • Twig and the Banderbear (reading the description you’d have thought it would tear him apart as soon as it saw him or at least impaled him on its tusks when he pulled that bad tooth out) from Beyond the Deepwoods by Paul Stewart.

My point is that even though some of my above examples weren’t very good (I had some good ones, but I couldn’t remember the title or character names which annoys me) you can get away with highly unusual friendships in stories. Heck, Kendra Kandlestar and the unger who actually turned out to be ________ managed to strike a friendship that was so endearing and yet so frustrating at times that you love it and remember it forever! By the way, that example was taken from Kendra Kandlestar and the Door to Unger by Lee Edward Fodi. Ratchet Ringtail is definitely my favorite character out of those books!

You have to wonder where good authors get some of these ideas. Some seem obvious from the start and others are less obvious but guessable. I find some seem completely impossible but still end up happening. How do authors write those sorts of things? How are they able to choose the right words that will convey the characters of the pair/group, in such a way that they’ll be utterly lovable (in one of the many definitions of lovable) and also thoroughly memorable?

How would you make an unlikely friendship (one that doesn’t revolve around lovestruck werewolves and glittery vampires deciding “Hey! You ain’t half bad!”)?  Personally, I’d make a situation where a light elf and a dark elf were forced to work together. They’re supposed to be opposites right! It wouldn’t be a romance setting so “opposites attract” wouldn’t apply. Another example of unusual friendships would perhaps be a griffin and a horse, seeing as they’re enemies (can you believe that hippogriffs were supposed to be just a ‘scholarly joke’?) It wouldn’t exactly be original, but hey! It could happen … right?

Post Script: One more highly unlikely friendship would be myself and a chicken. How I love their wings and not in an I-want-to-pet-you-way!

What is one of the more unlikely pairings you have created or read that made an impression on you?

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The idea seems… rather impossible, when you think about it seeing as we’re usually procrastinating about writing but in some cases, we use writing to get out of the things we don’t really feel like doing. Take for example, washing the car, going to get those groceries, or moving furniture. For me, it is frequently employed as a method to avoid doing things like dishes. Which is sort of odd, seeing as when I do dishes, I have time to think about plots… if I end up thinking about those instead of some exciting book or TV show. So, I got a brilliant idea: Do those things you don’t want to do, they give you time to think about story ideas (if the thing doesn’t really require much thought) or figure out your plot. Of course, if you mainly write without really planning anything and find this easier for yourself……… Don’t expect me to figure out an excuse for you to do what you’ve gotta do!

Please note, if you’re the sort of person who thinks about your characters/plot/how you should have changed that bit of dialogue almost obsessively, then I can’t garauntee that my brilliant world dominating helpful plan will be able to work for you. You’ll just have to test it and see. And when you’ve been turned into mindless enforcers of my will able to try it, please tell me the results in the comments (if you’re into leaving comments on blogs). I am curious to see how it works for you, mainly because I’m only 99.9 percent sure it’s effective, and this is coming from someone who’s never actually tried this herself.

Have fun losing your minds finding a way to make progress faster!

That little girl's bathroom needs got just plain weird at points

Recently, I watched a movie called The Apple Dumpling Gang (thank you Z, for renting that on iTunes so we could watch it! ^_^). The humor was good, but at times painful, and I’m amazed that the actors could keep straight faces. At some points, the humor flew over my head, though Mom and Dad got it. Of course, I wouldn’t have expected anything else but the point is that it sort of got me thinking about what sort of things might go completely over a person’s head and how this might restrict you when you write. Let’s say you’re an older write and there’s something that you think (and many of your friends agree) would be an excellent piece of dialogue or a scene that’s a stroke of genius but then, when a younger person reads it, they stare at you blankly when you ask what you thought about it, and they say something along the lines of “I have no idea what it was implying.” This would be rather tough, especially if you’re writing the book with their age group as your target audience.

Another movie in need of a walking stick (in my opinion) is Fantastic Planet. Yes, I will find excuses to mention this movie often. It starts with a pair of frightened eyes. The problem I am thinking of is one I’ve tackled often: sometimes, you can picture a scene so perfectly in your head and you know it would win you the largest fandom in history but when you try to write/type it out it comes out all wrong. The original image becomes ruined by scribbles that make it almost impossible to make out, except for the fact that your main character is there, an important item is there, and there’s a window. You can’t see what furnishings the room has, or if there’s another character. Or if you can, you can’t see them clearly enough to describe them properly.

Now this one isn’t a movie but it’s something I love a whole lot! The Gargoyles show, which they never should have ended. And they shouldn’t have done season three the way they did. Fangirl indignation aside, the show is (in my mind) a lesson on how to prevent infodumping. There’s tons of information in it, and yes, I know it’s not a book, but I don’t think it would have been infodumping if it was originally a book in the first place. We start in the past, jump to the future, and we don’t know why. But they don’t infodump, they don’t give flashbacks, they simply show you. Okay maybe I’m losing my point but I truly do think it’s a good example of well-thought-out packages of info. They’re bite sized and never make your mental jaws work hard to minimize them so you can take them in and digest them, thoroughly absorbing the knowledge. The surprises are well dispersed, and the dialogue is engaging. And you fall in love with the characters. Of course, I wish there was a show that taught you how to create characters like that but if there were, lots of books would have turned out very differently. Now I’m not a Twilight hater but I do think the characters could have been better. With more work, Edward and Bella could have been my favorite couple of all time! Before the next book with romantic undertones came along of course.

The point of this whole post is mainly to ramble and say that I watched The Apple Dumpling Gang, but these thoughts did honestly occur to me. After all, if I hadn’t, they wouldn’t be here would they? Now to go and watch How To Train Your Dragon for the sixth time and see what writerly lessons I might glean from it. However, I’m pretty sure that I’ll end up making adoring noises about Toothless and his purring. ‘Cause darn it that dragon is just plain cute!

 

I have no idea who that guy is, if you're wondering.

 

So, I was just thinking about ways to make unexpected events happen in stories. Sort of of like how Luke Skywalker found out Darth Vader was his father. Please note that I have never seen Star Wars, but intend to at some point. So I was thinking about this after I had brushed my hair, and then I started jumping around my recently rearranged room whisper-shouting “Eureka!” Okay maybe I didn’t say eureka, but I did say “It’s perfect!” which is basically the same thing, right?

Being so mysterious, autocratic (that’s my new favorite word), and undoubtedly brilliant, I forgot to write it down or record it somehow before getting ready for the day.  This means that I had to sneakily lure the ideas into a closet with some caramel and Tootsie Fruit Rolls then swiftly lock the door. Of course, no matter how fast I am with this action, some are always a little faster and escape to lurk at the edges of my memory, somehow avoiding my grasping hands as I frantically look around for a box to stuff them into once I have managed to acquire them.  Once I had the basic ideas memorized for later writing, I thought about why certain things surprise us so much in a story, and why others can be figured out so easily. Sometimes the things that will tell a person what is coming will not be seen as obvious clues to another person. What sorts of stories have surprised you with something that happened? One that I can think of is Starcross by Phillip Reeve. Of course, mentioning what exactly startled me would be giving away something that you might not want me to.  So rather than issue a “spoiler alert!”, I will move forward and put your mind at ease.

What sorts of things would you do in a story, or be willing to do, to surprise your readers? Time paradoxes? Hero-villain relationships? The hero actually being a villain? Your character’s worst enemy turning out to be their benefactor? Personally, time paradoxes give me headaches if I give them too much thought, but I will consider attempting them when I have an idea that appeals to me for that line of story writing. Sometimes though, we don’t get the best plot twist ideas until we’ve actually finished a couple of drafts.

Oh!  I think I’ve just inspired myself to go finish a couple of drafts of my own writing!  Guess what I’m doing now?  :D