Monday, December 7, 2015

The Colt Principle

I am indebted to my writer friend Colt for introducing me to the literary device I have dubbed the Colt Principle. A writer often finds he has written himself into a corner and desperately needs that can of magic paint to draw a door on the wall from which to escape. Simply put, the Colt Principle says that when you have written a non sequitur into a scene, merely address it and move on.

Surely, it couldn’t be that simple, I said. Take my forthcoming novel Fangs & Fur: Flashbacks. I had written a scene where my characters had to be in the waters off the southern coast of Australia. I wanted one character to be attacked by a crocodile. No big deal; after all, Australia is famous for its crocodiles. Think Crocodile Dundee, or Australia’s renowned croc hunter Steve Irwin. But there was one problem: it turns out there are no crocodiles in the waters off the southern coast of Australia. The waters are too cold for them. Oops. The location was set: my characters couldn’t be moved to northern Australia. And I wanted the crocodile scene. What to do? Time to apply the Colt Principle: address the inconsistency and move on.

“What the hell is a croc doing this far south? It’s rare to see them south of Queensland. These waters are too cold for crocodiles.”

“Someone forgot to tell the croc.” Donahue shrugged. “Could be it escaped from the reptile park in Somersby and swam in the wrong direction, or maybe it got loose from one of the tourist attractions. Doesn’t matter now. The poor sheila won’t even have a fair go to make it ashore. That croc will be on her in seconds.”

Someone forgot to tell the croc. Doesn’t matter now. Here’s a plausible explanation, but let’s get back to the action. The Colt Principal strikes again. In my forthcoming book All the Time in the World (The Adventures of Mackenzie Mortimer Book 3), Mac is strip-searched, imprisoned, and issued a prisoner uniform. There’s no way he would have been allowed to keep his time-controlling watch. But of course, he’ll need it to escape. Oops. Time to employ the Colt Principle. Since Mac had received a new watch in the previous book when he had traveled to the future…

“I traveled far into the future and came back with a few improvements.” Mackenzie passed his hand over his wrist and his wristwatch appeared. “Camouflage mode. It does it with holograms. It’s a souped-up version of your pocket watch, Gramps. I’ll explain it once we’re out of here.”

Camouflage mode. Once again, the Colt Principle explains a seeming non sequitur and I’m able to write my way out of a corner. In my forthcoming novel Nightstalkers (Book 2 in the Fangs & Fur series), I introduce a Valkyrie who arrives on a flying horse. The flying horse happens to be the legendary Pegasus. Unfortunately, Pegasus is a product of Greek mythology and Valkyries are from Norse mythology. Oops. Time to resort to the Colt Principle to reconcile this non sequitur.

“Pegasus?” Lupe asked. “The mythical Greek flying horse?”

“He was, until I captured him and made him mine. There is no finer horse in existence, save my Lord Odin’s eight-legged horse Sleipnir. But I’m not here to discuss equine matters.”

The Valkyrie acknowledges that Pegasus’ origins are Greek but explains, in what must remain a fascinating untold back story, that she captured the famous flying steed and “made him mine.” Now let’s move the story along.  Problem solved, thanks to the Colt Principle.

So, if you’re a writer with a deadline approaching and no topic for your blog, simply address it and move on. The Colt Principle… it works every time.

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