Friday, 12 April 2013
K is for Kansas
The magical land of Oz is an amazing place. L. Frank Baum's descriptions and characters create a wonderful setting for Dorothy's adventures.
But without the contrast to the dusty farmhouse in Kansas and the homely comforts Aunt Em provides, Oz doesn't seem quite as amazing. We miss out on something because there's no contrast to 'normal' life. J.K. Rowling uses the same techniques of contrast between 4 Privet Drive (where, if you haven't read the books, Harry lives with his mean aunt, uncle and cousin) and Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
Contrasts don't have to apply to settings, of course. You could have a character who is full of contrasts - the hardened criminal who has no mercy on his victims but who rescues a kitten from a rubbish bin, or the weedy kid in a playground who manages to stand up to a bully. The idea of contrasts is often used in superhero stories - Superman's 'meek and mild' alter-ego Clark Kent, or He-Man's alter-ego the coward Adam.
The writing challenge for today is to create a character who has contrasting traits.