Would the other be shocking?, by Ben Jeapes


A part of my job as soon as consisted of sorting by lots of of trade press releases each week, to compile a information column. Most might be discarded straight off for failing a quite simple check. My boss’s mantra was, ‘would the other be shocking?’

(Fictitious) instance: ‘MultimegamaxiCorp declares itself to be trade chief!’ Properly, after all it does. Would the other (‘MultimegamaxiCorp declares it nonetheless has an extended method to go’) be shocking? Sure, it might. Wherein case, that can be information. This just isn’t. File within the round bin.

Glossing over failings is a straightforward temptation to succumb to, actually or in fiction, but it surely results in uninteresting writing. Christian writing – or certainly, any non secular writing – isn’t any completely different. Disclaimer: I’m not an skilled on Muslim/Christian issues, however as I perceive it a number of Biblical characters seem within the Qu’ran – however, stripped of any flaws or weaknesses, on the grounds that God/Allah couldn’t probably used flawed, weak people to unfold his flawless phrase. They must be flawless themselves, by definition. However, the place’s the story in that? ‘Man with no failings or weaknesses in anyway proclaims phrase of God!’ Is that fascinating? Probably not. ‘Man lets himself be betrayed, flogged, crucified, seems to be God’ – that’s fascinating.

Spiritual writing can simply fall into the identical mind-set because the PR division at MultimegamaxiCorp: our excellent news is fascinating by default as a result of it’s us saying it, and the way dare you need it to be any completely different? In fiction, there’s no excuse. We consider a plot, we consider an issue for our hero to beat, and so we make our hero in a position to overcome it. Lookup ‘Mary Sue’ to see what I imply.

Take a hero who has been on my thoughts quite a bit these days, as I’ve simply printed H.M.S. Barabbas, the primary in his additional adventures: Jim Hawkins, hero of Treasure Island. Jim makes errors. He’s by no means fairly as courageous or as strong-willed as he want to be (till it actually counts, after all). He could be a self-righteous prig, although to his Victorian viewers I suppose which may have appeared a power. The Victorians would, I feel, have been fascinated by Jim’s friendship with Lengthy John Silver. Silver we all know to be a treacherous, amoral assassin, however he additionally appears genuinely keen on Jim, and Jim reciprocates. Jim is torn between two father figures all through the novel: Silver, or Dr Livesey, who’s upright and ethical and probably only a teensy bit boring. To the Victorians, there would have been little doubt who Jim ought to finish up with – and he does, as a result of Stevenson knew his viewers, however he additionally knew find out how to make them pay for it. And, as Jim doesn’t miraculously change on the finish of Treasure Island, that was the character I had the problem of perpetuating.

So, there may be your problem. Does your hero have flaws? Are you taking steps to right them? In that case, cease it without delay!

Ben Jeapes took up writing within the mistaken perception that it might be simpler than an actual job (it isn’t). Therefore, in addition to being the creator of 5 novels and co-author of many extra, he has additionally been a journal editor, e book writer, and technical author. www.benjeapes.com


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