Posted by: victanguera | March 8, 2011

You’re In My Way: Writing Prompt #309

Yesterday, I ran across a link to a great article on storytelling (caveat, it is for a writing software program that you have to purchase, but it doesn’t negate the value of the article). One section really stood out for me:

Then, from out of the smoke a shadowy figure appears blocking your way. You can’t see well enough to tell if it is friend or foe. It might be a compatriot trying to keep you from stepping into a mine field. Or, it might be the enemy luring you into a trap. What to do! Do you keep on your path and run it over or try another path instead?

And that is exactly how I write. All the other rules of writing hurt my head. I’ve tried plotting. And I don’t write. I’ve tried analyzing story structure, making sure certain events happen at certain points in the story. And I’ve destroyed entire stories. But this? Very usable.

So for today’s prompt, who gets in your main character’s way. If you read the article, you will discover that this person mentioned isn’t necessarily the antagonist, even. So who is this person? What importance do they have to the character? What choices will your character make because of this encounter.

And I’m off to write something. For the first time in months. Wish me luck.



  1. My protagonist having the worst of all luck meets the shadow figure. It pauses,then steps forward, and says” would you like to be your own boss. I am fully capable of empowering you to be a millionaire.” If it were you or I, we would thought scream ” AMWAY AHH”, but not my protagonist because he’s hungry and happens to be a zombie. He eats the salesman, then takes his pet rock for a walk.
    The end or is it?

    • That is one response. Now, how does the zombie feel about what he did? Although he’s probably just looking for his next meal.

  2. The scenario you detail above, from the other website, seems like a classic noir scene, since in noir stories & movies you usually don’t learn who is trustworthy and who isn’t until the end. A very good recent example of that was the movie Brick (basically a classic noir set in a high school).

    Rules of writing hurt my head, too. Good luck.

    • Ah noir. Love that genre. Maybe that’s why that article resonated with me.

      • Classic noir, huh, I have been reading some of the websites that buy stories to feel out the writing world. I have seen several that zombies rule. Is it still noir if you’re on the zombies side? As for the zombies feelings, I suppose he feels full. On his next adventure, he is going to the payday loan store and then maybe he will get into politics. I am still learning about writing so my style is not planned. I will read up on noir though as I am a sponge for knowledge.

      • I think Anthony meant the original link. But you have me thinking with the idea of noir zombies. Really, what an idea. For noir, read up on Raymond Chandler and Dashiel Hammett, they are the two big ones of the noir genre. Watch almost any 1940’s movie as well if you want a sense of the genre.

  3. It’s hard to imagine noir and zombies working together, but my view of noir is pretty much based on the classics (Hammett & Chandler, and all the movies they inspired).

    • Ooh, noir zombies. Now my brain is busted. Although I have admit that my first novel did have vampires and a very noir sense. So noir zombies. It could work.

  4. Some more recent movies have that feel, too. Farewell My Lovely, with Robert Mitchum, for example (based on a Chandler novel). And Miller’s Crossing by the Coen Brothers, which is based on two Hammett books (Red Harvest and The Glass Key).

  5. Can do! I will probably pick up a book on writing styles as well.

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