Thursday, February 25, 2010

1001 cliffhangers

1001 Arabian Nights.

Actually today's post is number 1002, but the connection didn't occur to me before I posted yesterday's warm up. ;-)

Like in the original, write a series of cliffhangers. You don't need to write 1001. ;-) Try for at least 11.

For this prompt, create a series of cliffhangers. It might be easiest to treat it as camp so Good doesn't get in the way of Creativity ;-) Begin in your favorite genre, bring in some campy genre characters and stock genre situation. Brainstorm as many plot turns as you can.

Pick your favorites and organize them as a series of events. Describe the character's actions then tack on "but then" and throw in an obstacle or plot turn that slams the character off the direct pathway to happiness and gives them a problem to solve. Each time one obstacle is removed, slam them with another "but then" that makes things worse. It's even more satisfying if, rather than a random obstacle, a resolution creates another obstacle and makes matters worse.

Write it as a streaming narrative. Begin with the set up and environment, for example:

In the Kingdom of Brandish, Princess Peacock was preparing to marry the heroic farm boy who had saved her life ...

but then he was stricken by the flesh eating plague, followed in quick succession by her sister, the ministers, the guards and she was about to flee to escape the contagion and seek a cure ...

but then the also-plague stricken court jester, dropped before her choking out "The Mad Wizard ... he has ..."

but then the court jester passed out and uncertain if the Mad Wizard had the plague, had the cure or had a grudge she set out for his hut in the woods ...

but then ....

If you need help getting started, at Serendipity you can generate a fantasy plot. And generate plot twists. If you'd like to mine One Thousand and One Nights for ideas, Wikipedia has a list of characters:

If you've forgotten, One Thousand and One Nights is a series of continuing stories wrapped within the tale of King Shahryar. The King discovers his first wife was unfaithful and had her executed. He declared all women to be unfaithful and marries one virgin after another only to execute them in the morning. When virgins are seriously in short supply the Vizier, whose job it is to procure the virgins, his daughter, Scheherazade, offers to be the next bride. To save herself, she tells a story (to her sister as a goodbye as part of Scheherazade's plan) but ends it with a cliffhanger at dawn when she's supposed to be executed. The king, wanting to hear the end, spares her life until the next dawn. That night Scheherazade continues the story, but again comes to a cliffhanger at dawn. After 1001 nights she declares she has no more stories, but by then the king has fallen in love with her, had 3 sons and become a much better man because of the stories so makes her his queen.

Not all the stories in One Thousand and One Nights end with traditional cliffhangers. In some the characters begin telling other characters a different tale or in the midst of a discourse on philosophy.

1 comment:

SOLAB!A said...

You have to love Scheherazade, she was one of literature's greatest grifters.