07-21-18 Patricia Sargeant

Friday, March 22, 2013


By Linda Lovely

This month’s blog topic is Death and Taxes—the Inevitable. Since spring has arrived in my neck of the woods and it’s too pretty to spend time expounding on death or taxes, I decided to focus on some of our notions of inevitability and how they can help writers brainstorm.

As authors, we have the power to cancel and/or screw with the inevitable to delight and surprise our readers. Here are just a few “givens” that writers can alter to create new worlds and reader experiences:
  • The sun always rises. For the sake of argument, let’s say we wake up one morning and there is no sun. The earth has stopped revolving. Our half of the planet is plunged into perpetual darkness, while the other half bakes under a ferocious sun that refuses to set. Not a bad premise for a science fiction novel that lets us explore how people react when natural disasters change their world forever.
  • We age. Or maybe we don’t. Lots of literary takes on ways to reverse this truism—from a pact with the devil to pharmaceutical intervention. Perhaps our hero/heroine finds the fabled fountain of youth, or discovers a way to switch off a gene that allows select individuals (but not all) to stay young forever. What if our hero can elect to stay young, but he’ll have to watch the love of his life become an old woman and die? What if women can bear children in their seventies (State of Wonder by Ann Patchett)?
  • Spring follows winter. This one’s almost too easy for a writer to exploit. A new ice age descends. How do we cope? Do scientists try to intervene, and, if so, will their meddling cause an even greater catastrophe for life on earth?
  • Eggs and sperms unite to create new life. What if nature quits functioning in this manner? What if women don’t need men to conceive? What if women can be cloned successfully, but male clones don’t survive? How would the world work as women assume power and men become an endangered species?  
  • Death is inevitable and ends an individual’s earthly journey. This is perhaps the most popular “inevitable” for authors to upend. Options include ghosts (angry and/or friendly), vampires (who I guess can live forever with an adequate fresh blood supply), and reanimated zombies.
  • Romances have happy ever after (HEA) endings. Okay, if you’re a romance writer, this is one inevitable you don’t dare screw with. BUT, when the “black moment” arrives in your book, you can almost convince your readers that an HEA is impossible.

Fiction allows our imaginations to explore wonderful, improbable, and sometimes terrifying worlds. What “inevitable” laws do you enjoy seeing authors commute? Can you think of other “inevitable” premises that can be reversed in books to entertain readers?  


Judith Ashley said...

Thoughtful post, Linda. It goes with the HEA concept, love does overcome any obstacle in a romance. And in the books I read, the characters change - often fiercely resisting the inevitable. But what if love didn't conquer any obstacle in a romance? Well, it wouldn't be a romance and would fall into another fiction catagory. Same is true if a character never changed...although that would be a boring book. Action alone does not make an interesting or exciting book from my perspective.

Ashantay Peters said...

Amelia Earhart said "Adventure is worthwhile in itself." Your blog helped me to see that adventure isn't always external or limited to fictional characters on the screen. Thanks for your thoughts.

Linda Lovely said...

Judith, I agree. A book needs more than action to be interesting. And, Ashantay, I'm with you, too, we can go on adventures with our imagination alone.

Robin Weaver, Author of Blue Ridge Fear said...

Cool blog!

Sarah Raplee said...


I LOVE the fact that we as authors get to ask 'what if' about anything, including things we see as inevitable in real life. Challenging the inevitables can reveal hidden truths - and be incredibly entertaining.

Here two I'd like to see done:
Time moves in one direction
War is inevitable

Great post!

Linda Lovely said...

Sarah--You nominated two terrific inevitables. Thanks.

Kim McMahill said...

Alaska is an amazing place and I love fictional stories set there.