Wednesday, September 23, 2009

On Carpool and Satisfying Storylines

The Half Holiday, Alec home from school by Elizabeth Adela Stanhope Forbes--1859-1912 It started at the end of last week. I was driving the elementary school carpool and was sitting in the carpool line waiting the ten minutes for the school to open its doors. It’s best to get there early since the carpool line goes berserk in just minutes.

I noticed the girls were being really quiet. This usually makes me suspicious, but this particular morning I was just pleased at the amazing amount of silence at 6:50 a.m. When the doors opened at 7:00, I called to them to hop back in their seats and buckle up—they were all the way in the back, trunk area of the minivan.

Later that day I was putting groceries in the trunk when I saw our rechargeable personal DVD player back there, loaded with a Harry Potter movie. They’d hidden it under a sheet of plastic that I’d had in the trunk to lay plants from the nursery on.

Ohh. So that’s why they were looking so pleased with themselves.

Monday I was in the carpool line again and they clambered into the very back of the minivan once more. I nearly called out to them to just bring the DVD player into the second row of seats. I couldn’t care less if they quietly watch movies for ten minutes.

But then something stopped me. I realized that the whole reason they were having so much fun is because they thought they were getting away with something. To a kid, that’s just about the most fun you can have. If they could write a story about an exciting adventure, it would probably involve getting away with some misdemeanor. Very satisfying. They were just as pleased as punch.

This led me (naturally) to think about writing. What storylines satisfy me as a reader. What makes me sigh and feel pleased when I’ve read a particular passage or finished a good book? What makes me pleased as punch as a reader?

    • Boy Gets Girl/Girl Gets Boy.
    • Subplot where a deserving secondary character makes great personal strides or develops tremendously as a character.
    • Overcoming the odds.
    • Narrow escapes from death or disaster.
    • Good triumphing over evil. Or good crushing evil totally.
    • Order restored from bedlam.

Do you have any favorite plots that always make you feel satisfied as a reader? Do you incorporate them into your writing?