Monday, April 4, 2011

Trouble on Your Hands: Complications

You know how they tell you creating complications is a good thing in writing a story? Challenge your characters? Well, Wodehouse is The Master.

I remember thinking this way back when I read The Code of the Woosters. Now I'm reminded of his skill in The Luck of the Bodkins.

In this funky love larger-than-triangular-geometric-pattern, Wodehouse creates a mess and half. You've got Monty Bodkin who loves Gertrude. Gertrude thinks he's a cheating rascal, due to a misunderstanding. Just when he's convinced her otherwise (because he's truly a gentleman) his buddy Reggie, who mistakenly thinks Gertrude has lost her "spark" for Monty, tells her Monty's a true catch--just look at all the girls who hang around him! Then, right after Monty learns of his friend's blunder, Monty is (through a convaluted series of events) comforting the hottest movie star in town when Gertrude shows up to confront him. Sparks ensue.

And I didn't even tell you about the movie producer who's scared of customs agents mistaking Monty for a Customs Spy. I'm only a quarter of the way through the book but I know somewhere that's gonna cause a big load of hassle.

What I really enjoy about these complications is the human-ness of them. Each fear and complication hinges on something in the character. Monty, for example, is a sexy, rich, young man. He doesn't have to work. His whole trouble with Gertrude starts when he sends her photographs of himself on the beach in the Riviera--hence she thinks that this sexy, rich, young, bored man would of course be a cheater. Which tells us about her insecurities as well as Monty's flaws.

Then those flaws feed off of each other.

From my experience with The Code of the Woosters, I know Wodehouse is capable not only of complicating matters, but complicating matters right until the very end. Literally, I was on the last two pages of that book before he started to resolve anything. And VOILA! It was delivered with a tidy little bow.

Still not quite sure how he does it. I'm working to see how that all comes about. I have only caught that the flaws feed each other.

So, Mental Note: character flaws must feed the plot complication.

3 comments:

  1. So true, and a bit of advice I could use right now.

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  2. Yes, great observation. Character flaws should feed directly to the main plot or storyline. That's what makes stories juicy.Great post!

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  3. Love that observation. Off to work with that tidbit in mind. Thanks!

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