04 March 2013

Five Step Sparring


Because sometimes the first try (or four) just don't work

My Sensei is always tossing out random statistics. I’m not sure if he’s addicted to useless information he finds on the web, or if the bits of knowledge float around in his brain and randomly spill forth.  Sometimes I wonder if he’s not making it all up, which is entirely possible.

This is one of the statistics he has given us before.  I’ve tested the truth of this one for myself.  If you’re fighting someone, and punch them only once, they have like a 90% chance of blocking you.

But punching just once is silly, so let’s say they block, and you punch or kick again.  They then have something like a 60% chance to block it.  The third strike goes down to 30% and the fourth goes to 15%.  If you have the chance to strike them five times, it’s almost guaranteed that you will hit them.

Moral of the story: Strike more than once.

This particular analogy can be taken a few different ways. Today I’m going to go in the direction of ideas.

Let’s say I want to write a story about the end of the world.
First idea=Zombies
Second idea=Attack of the weather/projectile from space
Third idea=God smites us all
Fourth idea=Super Virus
Fifth idea=We run out of toilet paper

Okay, most of these have been done, or are in the process of being done.  If I went with my first idea, I’d have a hard time making it original and have it stand out from all of the other zombie stories.  People are tired of zombie stories (fools), and want something new.

The second, third and fourth ideas have been done a lot too.  Can you make these ideas work? Can you make them totally original and awesome beyond comprehension? Of course you can.  But it’s hard, and new tropes are formed each year, limiting the direction your story can go without being contrived.  Without someone saying, “Oh, it’s just like this movie I saw ten years ago.”

Forgive my last idea, but it would be a serious problem for some of us, and could indeed lead to the end of the world. Would you as a reader see it coming? Toilet paper being the crux of the whole story?  I hope not. If so, you’re as twisted as I am, and you may want to seek help.

Moral of this section: Don’t go with your first idea.

Okay, sometimes you can, but 99% of the time you should dig deeper, and be more creative.  That way, when you’ve hit them with the first four plot twists they’re reeling, and they’ll never see the fifth one coming.

3 comments:

NeoBluePanther said...

I like what your Sensei said, but I have a different take on it.

Your first punch may be blocked but it, most likely, will be your most powerful one. The fifth even though it gets through will have less impact.

So, my takeaway from your Sensei's message is two-fold:
i) Try your best to make your first attempt count.
ii) Even if you fail in (i) keep trying.

Keep Smiling, and writing!

-Jo- said...

Good point, NeoBluePanther. I do always feel like my first punch is the best. Unless I have a plan and the first one is a ruse to get their hands out of my way. Then I kick them! Well, when the plan works, that is.

Anthony Dutson said...

I totally wanna read your toilet paper book, and I am seeking help. ;)

Sensei is wise and motivational. My problem, I think, is the time between punches. It's not going to work with me throwing a punch every two years.