Drinking Age in Fiction

Hello Fiction Lovers!

Since I turned 21 today and now am legally allowed to drink, it got me thinking about drinking age in fiction. It’s not a big thing, but I realized in a lot of fiction novels it’s something that never really gets brought up. Either everyone is drinking, just having a beer in a bar, or it’s not even mentioned. Everyone gets treated as an adult or child, it seems like, and if you’re not a child it seems like you’re drinking to some extent without anyone having much to say on the subject.

I just thought it’s be nice having a few quick scenes, either in a bar or character’s home or elsewhere, where the characters talk about the drinking age and how it affected them. How they abstained from drinking alcohol, but have some hilarious stories about what their friends got into while they were drinking, or how they approve/disapprove of the drinking age. How they circumvented the rule or what happened when they got caught. Or even, perhaps, about the fact that they don’t have a drinking age and they feel sorry for the people in the next country over who do. It could also be interesting having a place where no one drinks.

Really, I think, I just want a few more scenes learning about characters as they talk about smaller things that affect them or they grew up with, instead of the high stakes of whatever the story is about. I want to see them as existing outside the current story line and talking about smaller things such as the drinking age that the reader can relate to can help with that. That’s not to say that’s how all your dialogue should be, or talking about the current plot is bad, but sprinkling in comments or small conversations about other things can be nice as well.

Thanks for reading and let me know if you have any questions! Feel free to post your thoughts in the comments.

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Starting Smaller

Hello Fiction Lovers!

First of all I would like to apologize for not getting this posted yesterday. Between classes starting and the eclipse I was busy enough that I forgot to do so. However, it did give me an idea to write about this week.

Often it seems the idea that “bigger is better” is pretty prevalent in fiction books. The stories of kingdoms and nations rising and falling, saving the world/universe, fighting off evil in epic proportions are stories we see time and time again. I understand why readers like them so much–I like them too, after all–but sometimes it seems we focus so much on the grand tales that we forget that stories can be smaller. Stories on smaller scales don’t equate to being more boring or less interesting–it just means instead of affecting the lives of a hundred or more people, it affects the lives of ten or so people. Perhaps instead of traveling across the world/universe the characters stay in a local setting, or perhaps instead of starting off with a dramatic death (assassination or natural) or someone becoming the chosen one, the story begins with a walk in the woods.

It doesn’t take a lot to change someone’s life and start a new story. Yesterday, two simple things happened that changed how my life will go for the rest of the year: my schedule changed and two things lined up doing something they’ve been doing for years. The solar eclipse might sound grand but they do happen every 50 years or so I’ve heard. The thing that made this one special is proximity, and because of that proximity a crazy amount of people paid attention to the sun and the moon and talked about them for months–when they normally wouldn’t give them a second thought. One small thing–the sun and the moon lining up–created a story in local setting and no battles of epic proportions were needed. Classes starting also created a more exciting narrative for my life than being on my computer all day. A quick change for one person, but it was impactful none the less.

That isn’t to say that you should go write stories only involving school life and eclipses, but sometimes it could be good to have more stories that start with a single, simple event and then stay relatively small. I think I like stories like that as well, because it puts more emphasis on the characters and their relationships than all the grand events happening around and to them. The characters are what make the story to me, and that’s why stories with less grand plots can be just as interesting as those with grand narratives. Both types of stories can be amazing in their own right. It is good to remember, though, that even the most epic of things can become mundane with familiarity, and playing around with that can be interesting as well.

Thanks for reading and let me know if you have any questions! Feel to post your thoughts on this in the comments and I hope you all have a good week.

No New Plots in Stories

Hello Fiction Lovers!

So this past week I’ve come across the idea that there are no new stories and everything that is being written is some variation on a story that’s already been told once again. I will admit that I believe this to be true in that certain types of stories are going to have similar elements–the hero’s journey, for example–but I also have a couple of issues with it.

The first is that when people mention this, in my experience, it’s typically with a tone of “why bother?” when it comes to writing. After all, if everything has already been written why bother writing more? But just because two or more things have the same foundation doesn’t mean they will look anything alike by the time the construction is finished. Let’s use the example of two identical rooms and only one thing is changed: the paint. One room is painted blood red and the other a bright pink. The paint might be shades of the same color but a visitor is going to have a different experience/expectations depending on what room they enter, and all just because the color of the paint changed. Stories work the same way; they might start with the same foundation–a story prompt or a genre–but based on the different variations they use, however slight, they can be very different by the end and thus give a different experience/expectations to the reader. Writing is worth bothering because of those variations and the entertainment they can give to both reader and writer.

The second issue is the extreme distillation of a story that one needs to employ to encompass them as broadly as the basic plots do. Rags to Riches, Comedy, Tragedy, Voyage and Return are the names of some of those plots. But those aren’t stories, not really. They’re ideas, ideas so broad and vague that there’s barely anything to them and that doesn’t make a story. Even the idea that they are called “plots” drives the point home. Plots aren’t stories but rather the foundations they are built upon. Stories are made up of characters and their decisions, the writer’s voice and style, the emotional journey they–hopefully–take the reader on, and a hundred other little things that people use and play with to make their stories unique. Another way to think about it, to go back to the earlier example, is that plots are the functional parts of the house–the walls, windows, doors, sinks, etc.–that help the people do what they need to do and stories are the lives of the people who live in that house and the personal touches they add to it. It’s why we can read so many books of a farmer boy becoming a king or a person going on a journey or people falling in love and still want more. Those were the plots and we wanted to see what the new story would bring, what variation we never expected would happen.

So there might not be new plots, but there are definitely new stories being written and read every day.

I hope this made sense and feel free to post your own thoughts on this topic in the comments or let me know if you have any questions. I’d be interested in what you all think about this prevalent idea in writing.