Sunday, October 4, 2009

How could a competition be used to open up your story world?

I just finished watching people running in the Twin Cities Marathon and started wondering about how endurance events might play out in the stories of people who follow this blog.

Would it be an event the main character takes part of or an event that they see, which functions more to establish what the world is about?

Would the event focus on the top performers or would it encourage people of all ages and abilities, as does the Twin Cities Marathon?

What would the rewards and punishments be for winning and losing?

Bottom line is that I'm interested in hearing how you could hypothetically use an endurance event or other form of competition to help develop the world of your story or establish another element of fiction, like character, conflict, epiphany, or theme.

So, fire away ... How could a competition be used to open up and establish your story world?

By the way, thanks for all the comments last week. It was interesting to see the results. Here are some summary conclusions that I made (based on the comments) about stories Americans have in common.

1. British authors have had a strong influence
2. Seemingly innocent kid stories are at the top of the list of being the most powerful
3. Stories that go from book to film are at the top of the list for connecting Americans
4. Literary stories that are required in high school climb up the list
5. Stories that are remade to fit contemporary interests climb to the top of the list

I might revisit the results for a future post. It is interesting to see that stories that are about a given moment in history or about a particular place did not dominate the list. In other words, the universal stories seemed to beat out the situational ones.


  1. Great post! Throughout my first book, I included references to movies and books that I really admire. One of the scenes I wrote involved a father and son who were climbing a huge set of stairs at a Thai monastery. The father and son aren't getting along very well, and both of them start to compete to get to the top first, even though neither one will admit to it. I got this idea from a scene in an animated film called Howl's Moving Castle, where two women end up racing to get up some stairs. I remember how brilliant I thought that scene was when I first saw it.

  2. interesting post. although i fully embrace competition and all of its inherent goodness, i find myself (emotionally) avoiding it more often than not. curious. i've never really thought about that before.

    but i do believe stories handed down through history do hold a great deal of competition, and we've certainly something to learn from it.

    i will have to think more on this :)


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