Detours Sometimes Lead to Conflict
How often do our travels – or our lives, for that matter – go exactly as planned? The detours often lead to conflict, and conflict drives drama. Conflict provides the impetus for action and the catalyst for your characters to change. Conflict keeps things interesting – if it doesn’t get everyone killed! Don’t leave your reader wondering, “Are we there, yet? When are we gonna get there?” Road trips are meant to be fun, interesting, enlightening experiences for the whole family. All too often, we get lulled into complacency, boredom, and “white line fever.” Roadside attractions provide opportunities to stray from the planned path – and opportunities for it all to go terribly, shockingly, or hilariously wrong.
Your character is taking a road trip cross country with two people who are not family or close friends. Something goes horribly wrong at the World’s Largest Cockroach and Frozen Custard Stand (or other odd or humorously cheesy roadside attraction) located in the middle of nowhere.
Ideas to Explore:
- Who are these characters and why are they traveling across the country together? Was it by choice? Will they be closer by the end of the trip – friends for life, perhaps – or will one or more of them (barely) live to regret it?
- Now’s your chance to camp it up – you can use an actual roadside attraction (the more ridiculous, the better!) or invent one. Don’t just describe it, though – make us feel like we’re there.
- What could possibly go wrong? Here’s your opportunity to add over-the-top drama, nail-biting action, or hilarious comic relief. Can you work in all three?
- Create 5-10 brief character sketches on scraps of paper. Fold them up, drop them into a Mason jar, and pull out three of them. Throw them into the car together and see where it leads.
- Build your own roadside attraction. Make us feel like we’re there. If it really existed, would we want to visit it – or would we pray we didn’t have a flat tire within 30 miles of it?
- Use descriptive language that appeals to all five of the reader’s senses.
- Add additional characters who are not in the car with your main characters. Throw in an animal, maybe a pet. Maybe it’s part of the attraction.
- How do your characters solve their problems? What does that reveal about them that we didn’t know before?
Have fun! Be sure to come back and share your story links in the comments.