Thursday, April 11, 2013

J is for Joust

I will admit that I had a hard time coming up with today's topic. I even looked back at the other J posts I have done over the years and discovered that only 1 of them did not start with the word "just" and I wanted to avoid that word for this post because of it. So, here it is at last: Joust.

In March I went to Vegas with family and for my sister's birthday dinner (birthday in February but we were all in Vegas together in March so celebrated then) we went to the Tournament of Kings. There they joust and have this dramatic fight against a bad guy. Fun times. I don't remember which country we were placed in exactly but it was one who instead of a King, we had an Emperor. While I will say he was one of the more attractive jousters (and I usually don't care for men with long hair) but he was also proof why you should never send an emperor to do a knight's job. During joust he didn't fall off his horse, he just rode away out of the arena. During the big fight with the bad guy, he didn't get slain or really do much damage to the minions cause he left the arena. tsk tsk. At least the Russian one stayed and fought, plus his always cheating comes in handy when it's against the villain.

Which brings me to the real topic of the blog because to be honest, I don't have much to say about jousting. I do have stuff to say about when it's okay for a character to run away and when they needed to stand up and fight. And yes, on occasion the hero may need to cut back, leave with tail tucked away and try to fight another day.

Place not to run away:
First chapter in the novel. While this can work at times (I'm not saying this is a rule, but something to consider as it's difficult to pull off), it's harder for a main character to run away at the very beginning of a novel because the reader doesn't know the character yet. They will have a harder time feeling empathy and wanting to continue to read abut the character if they perceive them as someone who runs away and leaves others to die. I had a critique group once where a writer had their character jump away from a ship under attack, leaving those behind and he made it to some island. That did not work for the readers because already they didn't have interest in him as the main character because he was so willing to jump ship without showing him at least trying to do battle first. Not a good first impression. It's a different story if the reader already knows enough about the MC, cares about them and can see why they have to run away this time, why they aren't prepared for the battle.

When is a great time:
After the character and conflicts are established, midway in the novel. This is more of a second act tactic because during the second act, middle, of the story it's okay for the character to fail. In fact, the setbacks and the chance to fail adds to the tension, heightens the situation to make things seem harder, which will then make the triumph at the end even better. Hero movies are a good example of this type. There are often fights where things go wrong, they don't win and they struggle just to survive but from it the pull the courage to move forward to the big battle, the one that matters the most. That is a good time to have a possible run away instead of continue to fight and lose.

What do you think about characters running away?
Do you like jousting?