Fill It Full Of Farts
I’m sorry…I can’t help it…farts make me laugh! Loud ones, squeaky ones, wet ones, silent ones, and especially the military-grade ones. Whether they are created naturally by someone who is gastronomically challenged, or artificially by whoopee cushions, it makes no difference to me. I understand there are LOTS of people who don’t go in for this type of crude humor (my wife for example), but I am not one of them. I seriously cannot recall a time when I heard one and it didn’t…at the very minimum…bring a smile to my face. I’m positive I can’t be alone in this. Most of us have more than a few things …maybe not farts… but something that elicits that kind of emotional reflex within us.
As writers, one of the things we strive for is originality. Monday I talked about telling stories in a way that’s never been tried before. How else can we hope to set ourselves apart and draw attention to our work…right? Well, today I’m here to flip the coin. There is another way to commercial success in publication and on the surface it might appear to be 180 degrees in the other direction. Want to publish the next best seller…fill it full of farts!
What I’m trying to say with my lopsided metaphor is there are elements of the human condition that tend to trigger emotional reflexes (just like farts make me laugh), and most good books make liberal use of them. Who doesn’t enjoy rooting for the underdog, or the hero up against insurmountable odds? What about wanting to see the unlikely couple find true love? These (and many more) are universal themes, scenarios, and situations that are used over and over and over and over again…successfully…because they strike a chord in us. Does striving for originality mean we have to abandon these time-honored principles? Not necessarily.
The challenge for us is to find a way to incorporate those reflex-inducing fundamentals into our stories in such a way as they don’t come off feeling stale or tired, thus sabotaging our quest for some measure of originality. This is not an easy task…but that is why we do what we do.
Give me a futuristic sci-fi novel with an android that farts, and I’m sold! :)