Michaeline: Planes, Trains, Automobiles, and Ships and Bicycles, Too

A history of transportation from reindeer through trains to the motorcar.

People may remain fundamentally the same, but as their technology changes, so does the form of their stories. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

There’s an old writing adage that says every story is either about someone coming to town (the mysterious stranger!) or someone leaving town (a quest! a quest!). But sometimes, the story isn’t about the arrival or the departure, but the journey itself.

Summer is the perfect time to write a travel story! You could set your story on a plane, a train or an automobile. Being trapped in a small space for a period of time promotes a sense of desperation . . . but by virtue of being in a MOVING space, you know the story is going to end with a release (let’s hope, though, that release isn’t a fiery crash! Although, it’s summer! It certainly could be. Disaster stories are popular. Look at the Titanic, or books about people who survived a plane crash in the Andes.)

Let’s take a quick look at five common modes of transportation, and what they could bring to your story.

First, the plane. You’ve got planes of all shapes and sizes to choose from, and more than 100 years of aviation. But they all fly above the common worries and fears of ground-bound folks. They get there fast, and there really is no escape (except by parachute, death or magic) until the plane lands.

The Dream Bible says to dream of airplanes is to dream about Continue reading

Michaeline: It just so happens . . . .

Ah, love's young dream and the queer pranks of circumstance! On the other hand, as Ian Fleming writes in Goldfinger, "Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times, it's enemy action." (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

Ah, love’s young dream and the queer pranks of circumstance! On the other hand, as Ian Fleming writes in Goldfinger, “Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times, it’s enemy action.” (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

I belong to an online book discussion group, and this week, we were talking about coincidence. I said that I’d experienced some amazing coincidences in my life, and ran into a minor coincidence almost every month. And then people shared their own stories of meeting a long-lost friend or relative hundreds of kilometers away from home. Or finding out that an online friend lived only 15 minutes away.

We all know coincidence, yet there seems to be such a disgust of coincidence among readers. On the other hand, is there a work of fiction that doesn’t depend on coincidence? I tried thinking of one; I thought something by Hemingway might work, but even something like The Old Man and The Sea still has the giant coincidence of the man catching this giant fish. There are, as we know, a lot of fish in the sea – why this fish, why now?

The way I see it, we humans are a pattern-seeking species. We see coincidence constantly, and most often the biggest things in our lives happen because of something unusual – a coincidence of people, actions or place.

In addition, fiction is about the unusual – the big moment in life that doesn’t blend into everyday. That’s often going to require a coincidence.

One of the big howling “mistakes” that writers “commit” is Continue reading