Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Mayhem in Relation to Writing

Yep, it's Mayhem March as promised and for the first post I thought it good to discuss a general topic of what constitutes as "mayhem" and how that relates or can be used in writing.

Check out the image link, it's a fun sounding game full of mayhem, lol.

What is Mayhem?

According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, there are two main definitions.
1. willful and permanent crippling, mutilation, or disfigurement of any part of the body. Also worded as, willful and permanent deprivation of a bodily member resulting in the impairment of a person's fighting ability.
2. needless or willful damage or violence.

Definition 2 is the one I'd imagine most of us, or at least it was for me, know. It is in relation to chaos, and in story writing can be used in order to keep from boring the reader/writer. In fact, one tip for writers when they are starting to get bored with their story is to throw in a little mayhem to get the ball rolling again. Boring is something we want to avoid, and it's really bad if the writer is bored by their own writing.

Mayhem can come in many forms.

The common known factor is the bomb (or any explosion). In a boring part of the novel, characters talking in a coffee shop but not much interesting going on yet they need to be there to move on to the next bit of action/suspense? Have a sudden explosion and see how they react. 

While a bomb/explosion is an obvious more visible sense of adding mayhem, it's not the only approach. I know a few writers who like to toss their characters in almost impossible situations and enjoys working on how they fight their way out. 

Some genres are better geared towards the adding of mayhem. Action/Adventure for example can easily add in an explosion (for example) and have it make sense within the story line. Whereas, a random literal bomb in a romance will most likely raise a lot of questioning eyebrows. Some Fantasy and Science Fiction are better suited for mayhem than others. 

While mayhem is known for not having a rhyme or reason in different situations, throwing something at random in a story without any form of connection has consequences, but we'll worry about that later.

That is Mayhem.

Anyone ever use definition 1?
What is Mayhem to you?


Denise Covey said...

Hey Dawn. Thank you for the definitions. Mayhem is worse than I thought.

Charmaine Clancy said...

I write for kids, so always a bit of mayhem thrown in (but not the mutilating body kind... not yet...).

Dawn Embers said...

Denise Covey - Thanks. Yeah, I learned something new from it.

Charmaine Clancy - ah yeah, that kind of mayhem but does liven things up.

Adriana Dascalu said...

Here through A ti Z! though I don't write in your genre, I enjoyed your article. And I loved the one about animees helping in developing characters.

Sonnia J. Kemmer said...

Very informative! Found your blog via A to Z Challenge. Looking forward to reading more.

Sonnia J. Kemmer