Philip Brewer's Writing Progress


Sunday, 16 May 2004

Lots of exercising this weekend.

I ran 6 miles on Saturday. I'm back in shape to run that distance (running nearly 8 last week was a bit of a stretch, but this was well within what I can do now). I finished with a spring in my step and a sense that I could have just kept on running.

Today Jackie and I went for a bicycle ride together. We rode south to Savoy, then east to Race Street and back up to Meadowbrook park where we had a picnic in the herb garden.

There are two cats that live at a farmhouse on the edge of park. One is grey and rather standoffish. The other is a politely friendly ginger-colored tortoise-shell cat. She came over to visit while we picnicked and jumped up on the bench to sit next to each of us for a few minutes, then wandered over to lie down next to the catmint. (After she showed it to us, we brought a sprig home for Rapunzel.)

Our round trip was about 16 miles. I'd had a vague notion to go farther than that, riding on when Jackie headed back. I didn't, though. Partly I felt like I'd gotten enough exercise, but mostly I was just having so much fun with Jackie that I wanted to keep riding with her.

This evening we watched "Quicksand," a action flick with Michael Keaton as compliance officer of a bank and Michael Caine as a washed-up actor hired by the bad guys as part of a scam. It was much better than I'd expected, given that I'd never heard of the movie before.

It makes use of a very common story element--the hero is framed for the crime, so he's got both the good guys and the bad guys after him. Some years ago, I suddenly developed an aversion stories where the main source of tension is that the hero is an innocent man suspected of a crime he didn't commit. It was partly just because it produced an unpleasant kind of tension. But, recently, I've come to realize that a bigger problem was that it's such an easy technique to use to raise the level of tension, close off alternative courses of action, and force the hero to take desperate action, that it gets used by bad writers at least as often as it gets used by good writers. After a few bad experiences, I came to see it as an indicator that the writer wasn't clever enough to come up with a more subtle, more original way to drive the story forward. This one made good use of it, though.


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