Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Detour Ahead

I once spent a month helping out with my little cousin while my aunt and uncle were moving into their new house. He was about a year and a half at the time and a total dollface. And he had this habit that I’ve noticed is fairly common with kids.

He paid absolutely no attention to the direction in which he was running.

He loved being chased. There was nothing quite as thrilling as knowing that he was trying to outrun someone. He would laugh hysterically as he took off as fast as those little legs would carry him.

But he would always watch the person behind him rather that what was coming up in front.

It was mildly terrifying to be witness to.

I was always sure he was going to body slam into some piece of furniture or wall. I quickly found that yelling that something was in front of him didn’t stop him from running into it. No, the only way that I could get him to stop running was if I stopped running. He wouldn’t always pause for long, but he’d be curious enough to stop and glance around to see the cause for my lack of motion. And then he’d generally notice the chair he was about to collide with and take off on a new path.

Interestingly enough, this memory has become very helpful in my writing process. My characters do the same wild running and, not surprisingly, they too get very caught up in what’s chasing them and don’t pay nearly as much attention as they should to what they’re running into.

Only I’m not as nice to them as I was my cousin. I don’t stop so they have a second to regroup. I just let them smash into whatever’s in their path.

And that’s when things get interesting.

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