Monday, February 05, 2007

Adventures In The Cave - Part 2

Adventures In The Cave

Steve, Ian and Susan lived together. One Saturday Steve and Ian said to Susan “We want to go on an adventure.” “Yes” agreed Susan because we could ask mum for some food and three sleeping bags.” We could go to the caves” said Steve.

There have been some brilliant opening lines in literature: “It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen”, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”, “Call me Ishmael”. Unfortunately, this isn’t one of them. At best its ironic understatement promises a look at the reality of a polyamorous relationship, at worst it is the dullest way imaginable of introducing three siblings. What about "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that three middle-class children in possession of sleeping bags and food must be in want of an adventure"?

The inciting incident appears to be Steve and Ian wanting to go on an adventure. What about if they don’t want to go on an adventure, but accidentally find themselves in the middle of one? That would give scope for dramatic conflict, of which there is none here. Susan immediately agrees (again, no conflict), and the location for the adventure is also decided upon straight away. What would be great is if we could spend a bit of time with the characters to begin with, then use suspense to tell the reader what the protagonists do not know.

There is also a lot of sexual stereotyping going on here. Firstly it is the boys who want the adventure, and it is Susan whose thoughts immediately turn to domestic matters. And from whom will she procure these household items? Mum, of course. You’ve got no excuse for this sexism as your own mother went out to work – she was the one who set this project for your class. Could they not live with a single dad? Or two dads? Alternatively, investigate the issues surrounding the fact that mum appears to allow her children to sleep rough, perhaps introducing the overriding fear of a social worker splitting the family up.

I like your self-styled “Master” honorific though. It's a nice gimmick, like JK Rowling or JRR Tolkien using their initials, and it subliminally gives the casual purchaser confidence in your literary skills.

Next time: They get to the cave...