|These seem like people who would play rugby, right?|
About the time I ordered another pint, one of the large televisions (the smallest one, crammed up in the corner) showed a game (match?) of rugby. Mr. B noticed it first, as it was behind me. He was delighted with what he saw, so I joined him on his side of the booth. I saw large men with massive thighs and bare heads barreling up and down the pitch. The ball was kept in action until a tackle or collision brought play to a temporary halt. A gentleman bearing a striking resemblance to Hagrid seemed possessed of a Berserker rage and plowed straight through anyone in his path. In fact, I wondered aloud if the game had been invented by the Scots. It seemed like the foolhardy and slightly deranged activity that marvelous country is known for. Wikipedia informed me that, in fact, the game developed amongst another group of impulsive males -- school boys.
|But seriously, someone please explain this to me.|
Because I've never met an analogy I couldn't stretch until it screams in agony, that rugby game got me thinking about writing. Good writing leaps off the page. An entertaining novel is packed with conflict and the action keeps moving the plot forward at a good clip. There aren't big breaks in the action to dissect what happened, like between football plays. It just keeps going. Good writing takes risks, like those rugby players hurtling down the pitch without the pads and helmets American football players wear. The stakes should be big. When a character slams into an obstacle, it should matter. It should hurt. Otherwise, no one will care when that character finally prevails.
I'm sure there are plenty of rules associated with rugby, but I don't know what they are, and when I was watching that game, they didn't matter to me in the slightest. I couldn't begin to tell you whether or not those teams were following the rules. All I cared about was how much fun it was to watch the action unfold. Likewise, a reader shouldn't worry about whether or not the author is following all the rules. Rather, she should be thrilled by the daring premise and emotional turmoil; she should be left breathless by the conflict and action.
So, that's my tip for today: Write like you're playing rugby.