Sunday, April 4, 2010

A Misunderstanding.

A small observation of an under-appreciated story technique: the misunderstanding. Because it is something I see quite frequently in excellent novels and not so much in, well, less-than-excellent novels. I used it myself once to create a relationship-, soul-, and happiness-shattering moment in a screenplay. Someone said something about a rock and someone else thought the person was talking about him and, well, seventy years later it ended badly.

So just a thought for a late Sunday. Make sure your characters are not only not always right, not just mostly wrong all the time, but that occasionally they mishear something, misunderstand something, or make a mistake or three. I was lucky when I was young to read Alfred Bester's The Demolished Man, which centers on the main character making a mistaken assumption. Read it. Then go mess with your characters.

Happy Ishtar.

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