Plot Devices Pt 2: Galumping Through A Story

I guess when I read a book there is no time for that. I tend to galump (yes, possibly a new word) from chapter to chapter – Clare Hughes

How do you keep someone galumping through your story? How do you get them so wrapped up in it that afterwards it’s a tangle to get out of, they just cannot stop thinking about it?

Writing Techniques - Philippa Keyworth Author

Well in this second instalment of plot devices I want to talk about the use of your characters unconsious actions as mentioned in the comment by my friend Clare.

In the case of romances (which is primarily what I write), it can be somewhat easier to keep a reader whizzing through the story but what actually is it that makes them do that?

Writing Techniques - Philippa Keyworth Author

Well I want to conjecture here, that perhaps the reason is that they are wanting the hero and heroine to get together…..clearly obvious….however, it is several techniques which romance writers use in order for this ‘whizzing’ to happen.

One of which is the ‘unconscious actions’. This is where the hero/heroine does something unconsciously sparking the interest of the other. This can be an action as small as biting a lip (always tantalising!), or as large as the hero secretly paying off the debts of the heroine.

These unconscious actions are usually the cause of romance or attraction between the two main characters. The hero ends up skipping from one scene in which he observes an attractive character trait of the heroine to another scene in which he observes another. It’s important not to forget that the reader is doing the EXACT SAME.

The reader is going on the journey of the hero and heroine falling in love so they too are skipping from one scene revealing a character trait to another — Fantastic! This is one way in which to keep your character ‘gallumping’ through your story, they are wanting to see more of your character’s character and then watch the reaction of the hero to it…..GENIUS.

Hope this helps you’re writing…..signing out…..

[BLOG ENDS HERE: Story Series cont’d] {See Previous Story Series Exerts Here and Here and Here and Here}

ONE WEEK Later

I walked along the sea front, pulling my wool coat closer to me while the sea wind tugged and knotted my hair. I squinted as the drizzle was blown against my face and closed my salty lips together. I continued walking along the lichen covered and damp sea wall. The waves roared to my left under the angry purple sky, and empty cottages lined my right, with their bright coloured doors chipped and rotten from neglect.

A storm was coming from the East, I could feel it in my bones, smell it in the air, the electrons buzzed around my ears.

“Pants!” I said as my high-top trainer submerged itself in a salty puddle.

Now I had wet socks. It was ridiculous, but this made me wanna cry. Maybe it was the cherry on top of my silly life, or maybe I was just being a pathetic girl. I think the second one summed it up better. I needed to grow a pair. I bit my lip so hard to get a grip, it bled, I just licked the metallic taste up into my mouth, it was mixed with salty sea spray. I dug my hands into my pockets and stopped to look out to sea, burying the bottom of my face in my scarf.

The white capped sea stretched its iron grey body out before me, a great animal moving, groaning, labouring under the forces that relentlessly had their way with it. I liked it when it was rough like this, when I could feel the anger of nature built up, about to break loose, it felt kinda familiar. I liked the ominous threat of rain, of thunder, and the knowledge that both brought relief to the earth.

It was getting a little chilly, but I didn’t want to go inside just yet. I took shelter in the doorway of one of the abandoned cottages. Sitting on the damp threshold I could still see the horizon ahead of me. I relaxed and breathed out, happy. The door behind me creaked.

“Oh, no…”

Sure enough the thing gave way. It fell backwards and slammed down on the floor just before I did. I lay there for a minute watching the ceiling, not even taking my hands out of my pockets,

I laughed.

After mulling over the hilarity I decided I’d better get up, maybe put the door back up or something. The rain, however, had different ideas; it drove me further into the house. It poured outside the murky panes of glass. Sheltering here wouldn’t do any harm I decided.

I turned around and was surprised to see a fully furnished house. They must have evacuated pretty quickly I thought. I suppose the threat of a dragon was pretty serious, though I personally found myself a cuddly dragon, but hey, people were weird remember.

There were pieces of sea-worn glass and pebbles all over the table, like some kid had just come off the beach to show them to his mother. I could imagine her, stirring soup or something like that on the dusty cooker.

“Hi sweetie,” she’d say. “Oh, they’re pretty.” Act as though she’s really interested, humouring the child.

I was fascinated now, all this normality in front of me, like human’s lived, like all of them spent their lives. I walked up the creaking stairs, one broke underneath me. I was thankful I had quick reflexes. The upstairs had beds slept in and not made again. Clothes were dropped on the dirty carpeted floor. They had packed quickly. To escape us, to escape creatures like me.

My cold hand picked up a well worn book from one of the bedside tables, some pages fell out, but I didn’t pick them up, it wasn’t like the humans were coming back was it? I should probably get back actually, I suddenly thought, the weird trip through other people’s life coming to an end. I draped a hand over the bed sheets as I walked to the landing.

Holy crap, man!” I shouted, jumping back from the doorway.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you.”

Typical scar face, I mean Chy, kept forgetting to call him that. I tried to walk past him down the stairs.

“Found anything interesting?” he asked looking at me in that annoyingly compassionate way.

“Nope, nadda!” I said, pushing past him and getting downstairs and out onto the sea wall again.

“Hey, come on, you’ve gotta be thinking something in that silly head of yours.” he called, making it onto the street just behind me. That was strange, the first time he’d been abrupt with me since the whole torturing thing. I think he was probably usually one of those quiet, irritatingly calm types.

“Hey, I’m just a disgusting morpher remember, nothing much but killing goin’ on up here.” I tapped my temple, wishing he would just leave me alone.

“Don’t be such an ass all the time!” he shouted suddenly. The rain was making it’s way into his hair now, it dripped onto his face. “Have you made a decision yet? Do you wanna protect people like the ones whose home that was,” He pointed back to the cottage, “Do you want to prove that you’re a civilised, good creature, not just the monsters they think we are?”

“I don’t care! How many times do I have to say this to you? It doesn’t matter to me.”

“Really?” He ran to me and grabbed the scruff of my coat. “You don’t care if innocents die and you could have done something to save them? You don’t give a damn? You’re too much of a lone wolf are you? You really gonna prove the others right? That you’re just a survivalist, no heart?” His face was so close to mine, I felt him spit on my cheek. But even though he was yelling he wasn’t mad, his eyes were despairing, compassionate and begging, all at once and I felt that sick feeling. You know, the one where you’ve done something bad and someone finds out and gives you that disappointed look. Guilt. Feeling bad made me angry, I didn’t like feeling this rubbish responsibility, like I should save the people that hunted me.

“Bad move.” I said looking down at his hand. It was as though he read me like a book. He already knew I was mad before I did. He threw me away from him. There was a flash of light. Was that me?

I morphed, this time remembering to go slow, keep the clothes and all that. I felt the rush of warmth and then my claws scraped against the stone sea defences. I crouched and swung round to confront him, I would scare him at least, teach him to leave me alone. The sea roared behind me, I added my own noise to it. The throaty roar wasn’t on the audience I expected though. That light, it hadn’t been me, what the?

He was bounding towards me; I didn’t know he was a morpher. His wildcat tail swished behind him, his lion claws bounded him forwards giving him the grip he needed on the wet stone. His hooves clattered on the stone following the front. His fur merged into feathers at the back and his wings were flaming red, pushing him forward with the air. His scarlet eyes were locked on mine. He pounced. I beat my huge wings, willing to get away from those claws, but I knew I was too late. He dug them in between my scales. I screamed, breathing fire as he brought me back down to earth with a thud. I thrashed and tried to release myself from underneath him for at least twenty minutes before I realized he had me pinned just too perfect, what made me think he hadn’t done this before? Now he was scar face griffin man.

His eyes were still locked on mine and when I stopped thrashing I saw the truce in them. I nodded and clucked my beak on the stone wall, an agreement. He jumped back and was almost immediately morphed back into his human form. I followed suit, but I didn’t want to let him get away with the wounds he’d given me. I ran for him and threw my fist at his face.

He laughed and grabbed my arm, twisting me in the air and catching me in one of strong his arms. Smooth idiot. “Shall we go to the infirmary rather than take revenge on me while you’re bleeding?”

“Fine.” I grumbled, but I would beat his ass.

The walk back underground was the longest and most humbling walk I’ve ever taken. It was long because of the eight stab holes that wouldn’t let me breath properly, the pain was so sharp when I combined inhalation and walking. I made out that nothing was wrong, and he let me alone.

“Told you.” I panted through the pain as we reached the door to the underground base. He turned his back to me to enter the key code. Maybe, I thought, if I collapse right behind him he won’t notice. My legs buckled and I hit the floor. The pain burned my rib cage but I thankfully felt the relief as the pressure on my stomach was released.

He turned around as the door opened. “Ok are you?” he said sarcastically.

“Just chilling.” I waved my hand dismissively, “Come back for me in a bit.”

He laughed, I wasn’t joking.

He looped a strong arm under my own before I could protest and hoisted me, taking most of my weight. I suppose it wasn’t a lot as I was pretty tiny. I limped with him, leaning on him as much as I could to ease the stabbing. He didn’t say a word, didn’t gloat, nothing.

Jade, who was apparently the nurse, had me patched up in no time. She spent some time checking me over before she actually bandaged me up. She remarked on the bruises on my sides that were now yellowing.

“Just a broken rib, no worries.” I tapped my nose, she understood it meant both broken in one fight. My nose wasn’t that bad I didn’t think but it was slightly off. I had tried to set it myself – ha!

She finally let me down from the scary medical chair and gave me back my clothes. I was thankful that I still had my pants on and that the bandage was over my chest as Chy came straight into the room.

“How you doing?”

“Geez man, can’t you ask me when I’m clothed?” I flashed my eyes at him.

“Suit yourself though you know I’ve see…”

My looked made him shut up before he said anything in front of Jade.

“I’m fine thank you.” I grumbled on the way back to my room. He walked beside me looking very concerned. “Seriously” I said feeling a bit bad about his expression, “I’ve had worse.” I smiled quickly and then looked ahead. I caught a flash of something unreadable in his eyes,

“Yes!” he said victoriously. “You smiled!”

“And you’re weird, hey, this is a fun game.”

He smiled, his face took on a whole new look when he smiled, much softer, like it broke the hardness of his countenance.

“So, why’d you not tell me you were a morpher.”

“Dunno, just wanted to see if you’d treat me differently if you thought I was human.”

“Did I?” I asked.

“Nah, not really, you treat both with equal hostility.” I thought he was joking for a minute but when I looked his face was dead serious. “You mistrust both.” He added a little more quietly.

“So?” I said as a rhetorical question.

He ignored it and instead began talking. He told me about his childhood, the first time he’d morphed he’d killed someone standing next to him. He’d run away after that, he was only ten. He’d lived away from humans for seven years before he came back into society. He’d gone to the Rockies and lived there, not morphing back into a human. When he came back in he had a hard time controlling his temper. He looked at me then. I scowled. He’d tried to be normal, he’d even gotten married and worked at a normal job.

“So what happened?”

“Dragon’s came to where I lived, we were all evacuated, Tanya died, in a wild fire.” He was looking down, and his eyes were closed, like he was bearing immense pain while he told the story. “The authorities called a death sentence on all mythical creatures. I realised that I didn’t belong to the human’s world. But I believed there was a point to it all, we weren’t just made for destruction but protection.” He stood up from my bed where he sat talking to me, I was curled up in a ball on my sofa. I uncoiled myself, almost I thought to stop him leaving, to tell me more, but he didn’t give me a chance to ask.

“See you later.” He patted my shoulder and left me in my room to ponder things over during the night.

Philippa Jane Keyworth – Regency Romance Author

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One thought on “Plot Devices Pt 2: Galumping Through A Story

  1. clare

    Heya, great next installment btw! Love it.

    Re: the reader discovering the character’s character through their actions being discribed:

    Great point and well made. It reminded me of another common plot thing within this genre that I’ve observed: There are times when a character (often the heroine) has strong misconceptions and prejudgements about the hero. Sometimes this gets in the way of their ability to objectively observe and learn about him. What then happens is that the reader observes the unconscious/unobtrusive actions that act as a window into the hero’s true nature. They are then a couple of steps ahead of the heroine. This can lead to one of two reactions: frustration or anticipation.

    Frustration with the heroine is not always a good reaction as this can distroy the building empathy that the reader has with the character. A classic example for me would be Northanger Abbey. The first time I read it I just wanted to shake Catherine- it took a couple more reads to appreciate the book and not just get distracted by my irritated with her.

    Anticipation comes when you are looking forwards to the moment when the heroine is going to catch up with you. When she is going to finally “get it” and actually realise the true nature of the guy she has been grapling with. That anticipation adds to the reader’s inabililty to put the book down and is a big contributer to the “gallup” (Yes, I have now made it into a verb!)

    As you can tell, I prattle on here from the perspective of a reader. I have little insight into how a writer toes that line. How they avoid audience frustration and instead build momentum. Keep it coming Pip, I’m finding this facinating!

    Reply

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