My 2yo is into storytelling. She tells some wonderful tales, minus most of the conjunctions, of course. Saturday she tole me a story of a lion and a snake (her current favorite topics). Someone turned into a lion and someone turned into a snake...and I asked her, "Which was scarier? The lion, or the snake?" She said, "The lion. He had huge claws."
The snake is small--usually. Long and slender but fear-inspiring nonetheless. Some can wrap themselves around a victim and squeeze until dead. But most deadly snakes just bite. The venom in this reptile runs the gamut from irritating to deadly.
So, which is scarier? The large animal that shows you death before it arrives, kills you in a bloody, brutal way, and from which it is nearly physically impossible to escape? Or the small one that sneaks up on you or slithers into your path, strikes quickly and without warning, causing a slower onset of pain and, may times, death?
Deciding on the lion or the snake is an important point in a writer's process. The type of book you are writing can hinge on this decision. Is your antagonist a methodical criminal who uses the sneakiest of methods? Or a blatant psychopath who leaves trails of horror and gore in his wake?
Does your book lull the reader with beautiful language and glorious passage, then BANG! hit them with a surprise twist? Or does it smash them in every chapter with action and consequence?
Which type of writer are you? The lion or the snake?
*Snake photograph courtesy Randy L. Emmitt
Return to Literary Movement Series: Beat Generation
Friday: Writers in Jail
Monday: LM Series-Realism
Tuesday: LM Series-The Lost Generation