Monday, September 13, 2010

But where do you poop?

Time for Monday on my Mind!

You're probably looking at the title of this post and thinking, "Erm, Claire, that's a pretty weird thing to be on your mind." Well, if you're looking for normal, you're in the wrong place. Try the second door on the left.


You know how I said I was only reading LOSING FAITH and PERSONAL DEMONS and then I was taking some time off from the bookshelf? Totally didn't happen. I read (= devoured) THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH by Carrie Ryan last night.

[Disclaimer: I don't publish anything that you wouldn't find out in the first few pages, or in a summary, or back cover blurb without warning, so don't worry if you haven't read the book.]

So I'm reading along. And I'm enjoying the story. I'm willing to suspend my logic enough to go to this someday-in-the-future world. I'm even willing to accept the existence of zombies. But then there comes a passage that bugs me.

A few of the characters are forced to spend some periods of time together. They're always in each other's company. And it hits me. Where do they poop? And then I begin to think of other fantasy stories, particularly quests. LOTR, Harry Potter, Twilight, Hunger Games, etc. They all have these parts where characters are together for extended periods of time. Where did they poop?

After a good few minutes of thinking about this, another thought crosses my mind.

Maybe I shouldn't read at 2 am. lol.

Seriously though, I don't imagine most people think of character constipation as a plot hole. But it got me to thinking about other things that writers shouldn't just gloss over.

There are some writers (especially in fantasy and sci-fi, but it happens across the board) who feel compelled to explain every aspect of the world they create. I don't need that. If you tell me there is magic, I'm cool with that. You don't need to tell me why there's magic. JK Rowling doesn't feel compelled to give us an entire history of the wizarding world. Stephanie Meyer never tells us why vampires sparkle. Suzanne Collins never gets into great detail of how the world collapsed to create Panem.

And that's just fine.

The things that really need to be clear in fantasy and sci-fi are the same things that need to be clear in any other novel. What drove the protagonist to get up and do something? What is it about the love interest that pulls him or her in? What's the protag proud of? Ashamed of? In other words, the questions I need answered are all about character and plot. Not setting.

It's something I want to carry over into my own writing- never concentrating so hard on the forest that I lose sight of the trees. And now I know what to do every time I'm afraid of getting bogged down in mundane details. It's a simple question really?

Where do you poop?


Elana Johnson said...

I often have strange questions like this whilst reading too.

I'm totally not going to answer your question. ;-)

But I adored TFOHT!!

Natalie Aguirre said...

I just read THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH too. I'm not into zombie books but I really enjoyed that too.

I think I'll answer your question the same as brilliant Elana.

Amy Holder said...

The title to this post cracked me up before I read a word of the actual post. Oh, and as for Harry Potter, they use poop portals. It's covered in book 6, how could you miss it? haha.

Anyhow, you made lots of good points in this post. TMI can ruin a plot... some things are better left to the imagination (or not thought of at al - lol). BTW, you'd probably like Jackson Pearce's vlog about a similar topic here:

And no, I'm not going to answer your last question either. :)

Claire Dawn said...

I love you guys' avoidance of the question ;)

Amy, I love Jackson Pearce's vlogs. That was hilarious! (Have you seen Writers Block?) I wasn't a subscriber to her youtube before, but I've fixed that.