May 4, 2009

Rule Of Thumb: Character Contradiction

May 4, 2009
This rule is an absolute classic for ramping up the tension.

If you wish to emphasize the sheer magnitude of a particular revelation or simply get across the uneasy feeling that something is very wrong, have a character who is renowned for a specific trait suddenly go completely against it.

Let's say you have an archaeologist character who has spent her entire life looking for that 'once-in-a-lifetime' discovery. Upon finally discovering it, an ominous underground temple, she opts to leave immediately and doesn't photograph a single thing.

Imagine a President character who is always joking and laughing things off. Now imagine an agent whispering a short, seemingly unimportant phrase like "the eleventh candle has been lit" in his ear and then the President leaves the room without proper protocol and demands a meeting with his chief advisors.

Remember, when your viewers assume a norm concerning your characters or even your universe, it really means something when it changes, even if only for a moment.


  1. im really getting inspired to start writing,
    but damn uni, i'll have to post pone writing to the end of year.

  2. just saw your promotional package, haha, it's funny

  3. Thank you! Mutt did some awesome artwork for it. Unfortunately my voices did not come in handy for that one.


  4. ha, your telling lies, you revealed the secrets of morgan freeman and convinced me to buy some milk.

    ...that was handy.

  5. Oh yeah! Wow, I totally forgot about the video link!

  6. "The eleventh candle has been lit - again?" retorted the President. "Are you sure? The code was to be the TENTH Candle! Dam' I shouda known that Gromyko couldn't be trusted with this."

    He stopped and stared down at his black shiny shoes for so long that even the loudest of the babbling reporters stilled.

    "You Ok Boss?" asked Klienert anxiously.

    The President looked up. His face lit up, fear and horror etched in every cranny.

    "I know what he means! I KNOW what the godamsunofabch means!" he exclaimed loudly.
    "We gotta go now! Not a momement to lose!

    He spun round on his heel, and like a speedboat cutting through the foam he pushed through the clamourous pack and hrough the green door.

    He was gone!

  7. "the eleventh candle has been lit" intoned the hungry grey voice of the ravenous beast whose deathly luminous eyes hung like dying red lamps in the fetid night air of the squalid enclosure that served as the prison for newly acquired hostage.

    " You may have me as your prisoner, fired back the President, "but empty threats of the eleventh candle do not sway me, sir.I know that the candle has long been lost in the mists of legend and lore!

    "Ha!" cackled the beast as it stalked behind the President, whispering over his shoulder, and breathing stench past his ear,"But now we have found it! Oh, yes, we have the candle here - and it has been lit! Your time is short. Oh, so very very short."

    " The President started, and turned blinking into he light of the solitary candle that twinkled gayly, casting grand shadows onto the sooted wall

    "No! No!" he cried, and turned running, stumbling, screaming out of the room.

    Protocol gone, the beast luched out behind him ...

  8. Ha ha! I have no idea what the hell is going on, but awesome!

  9. The President smiled benignly down at the little girl who stood before him, face shining in anticipation. In her new pink dress and bright blue hair ribbon; she was the picture of freckled sweetness.

    "Can I bwow them out pwease?" she lisped through missing teeth."I wuv being ten," she added seriously, "ten candles is a nice number!"

    The waiter, in starchy cumberbanded solemnity continued lighting the candles on the cake. This was no ordinary little girl - it was Tessa Amelia Klienert, daughter of Arnie Klienert, deputy head of International Surveillance.

    The cameras snapped happily, the President continued to smile that warm and sincere smile that meant such wonderful publicity - when suddenly a strong, low note of gloom sounded above and around them, like the deep roar of a great ship's horn; the lights dimmed to gray and somewhere in the far distant sky a kestrel called, harsh and shrill.

    All stopped. All eyes instinctively lowered to the table where the waiter stood poised, match in hand ... The little girl gasped and pointed; and in a tremulous voice whispered: "the eleventh candle has been lit"

  10. lol, i know who's writing that is....

  11. Then you know way more than I do!

  12. It's this guy here

  13. LOL, that's Cletus Trubshaw from Babbit MN. What a hoot!

  14. Samuel L. JacksonMay 17, 2009 at 1:59 PM

    I'm Spartacus!

  15. The mystery continuesMay 19, 2009 at 8:55 PM

    "the eleventh candle has been lit" mused the new President. "That's what he said wasn't? Just before he disappeared? Hmmm? He drummed his manicured nails on the mahogany desk.

    There was a pause. The advisers looked uneasily at each other and shuffled in their seats.

    "Uh, yes Sir." replied Klienert. He hesitated before adding: " Each time a President has disappeared, ah, it well, ah..." His voice trailed off.

    "Just say it, Dam' you!" snapped the new President. "Each dam time, someone says:'The goddam eleventh bloody candle has been lit.'! But non of you sunsofbiches can tell me what it means!"

    He slammed his fist, encased in crisp white shirt and diamond cufflinks down on the desk.

    "Sir, if I may?" enquirer a voice from beyond the inner circle. A young voice, inexperienced and unsure of its place in such company.

    "What is it, Jackson," replied the President."Speak your mind."

    " Well Sir, you may have heard of the ancient Druid Imbolc Ritual, performed on St. Brighid’s Eve, each February?

    "What are you talking about, boy?"

    " Well Sir this pagan ceremony honours the goddess Brighid. And, um, they light 19 candles, and..."

    "Get on with it, son!"

    "Sorry, Sir, but there is an eleventh candle which is lit!"

    Silence filled he room...

    "And, there is an incantation hat goes with it..." He fumbled and looked down at his notes, pushing his glasses back onto his nose. "Let's see, um: 'I light the eleventh candle to honor her as midwife and healer, protector of children.' The legend is that when those ords are uttered, and the candle lit, then..."

    A shot rang out; the lights went black for a moment; the acrid smell of gunpowder filled the air and out of the smokey silence, they saw the young man, glasses shattered, slumped back in a pool of his own blood.... And by the window, blinking feebly in the light, a candle was lit.

    "Holy Mary, motherofgod!" gasped Klienert, pointing at the mahogany desk. " Wh, wh, where's the President?"

  16. "Well, what happen's now?" puffed Kleinert, his brow damp and his voice breathless."We've climbed to the bloody top!"

    They paused and gazed around them in the distance, about three kilometres away, shimmering in the late afternoon warmth was the small township of Wiltshire, beyond that Amesbury's red rooftops and then way off in the valley the ancient dwelling of of Salisbury.

    They turned and stared up at the grey menacing figures before them.

    "They've all got names, you see," remarked Aubery in his lilting Welsh brogue,"named for druidic gods and goddesses. And that one there, it's named for Brighid." He pointed at a great rock bent and contourted by time.

    "No kidding?"replied Kleinert, his eyes squinting. He raised his hand to ward off the sun. " So this place has been here for some time, eh?"

    "Good lord, yes!" exclaimed Aubery, "Stonehenge goes way back to Authurian times. Geoffrey of Monmouth recorded that Merlin the wizard directed its removal from Ireland, where it had been constructed on Mount Killaraus by Giants, who brought the stones from Africa. After it had been rebuilt near Amesbury, Geoffrey tells how first Ambrosius Aurelianus, then Uther Pendragon, and finally Constantine III, were buried inside the ring of stones. it is intriguing that he connects Ambrosius Aurelianus with this prehistoric monument, seeing how there is place-name evidence to connect Ambrosius with nearby Amesbury."

    "So what the hell has this to do with the whole godam business? The Sate Department have sent us to follow up Jackson's hunch - poor kid." Kleinert paused.

    "Well, sir," replied Aubery, "there is a rumour that the cult of Brighid still exists. Stonehenge, here, is a still a place of pilgrimage for druids, and for certain others following pagan beliefs. At midsummer, at sunrise they all gather here, and at midnight..." Aubery's voice trailed off.

    "What is it man?" Kleinert said with some impatience.

    " Well, it is said that there is a ceremony that summons the powers of the long departed gods. Their barrows are supposed to become visible at that time, and heir shapes corporeal in the light of the Glndwr's Eve moon. And it is said, that only one, the most powerful, and malignant appears. And," continued Aubery slowly, "they say the candles of power light her way."

    "Don't tell me that there's an el..." began Kleinert.

    "Don't say it, sir! Don't!"Shouted Aubery in alarm.

    A cold wind chill, whispered bitterly around them. The sun disaapeared behind a rack of ominous cloud...

    To be continued

  17. I still remember vividly the episode in Doctor Who, where for the first time Tom Baker was serious, goal orientated and started acting completely out of character.

    He was actually being held hostage by near Omnipotent beings, and it felt so climactic because of this rule. For the first time EVER, he was taking it seriously.


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