Wednesday, September 11, 2019

The Outrage Factor

The best plots are those that play on the emotions. Among the strongest stories are those that go up against our sense of right and wrong. It isn't necessarily about revenge, nor does outrage have to drive the main plot; it also strengthens subplots, such as where someone gets abused or taken advantage of. Regardless of genre, you can dial up the old outrage meter as much as desired, as we'll see from some traditional sources of inspiration.

Vidgame Hackery
In the game Summoner, farm boy Joseph returns to find his village burned (villains have a thing for that, don't they?). Yep, it's questin' time. In similar fashion is Venetica, set in a fantastical medieval Venice. If the designers noticed venetica is Latin for wizardress, kudos on them. At any rate, our gal takes down a (you guessed it) village raider with her garden rake. She's thereby obtained her first sword, and you know the rest. Basing a story on this is more about the adventure than any kind of cosmic enlightenment. Eh. 6/10 on the outrage meter.

Clive Cussler et al
In Dale Brown's military thriller The Kremlin Strike, those crazy Russians have hustled up a space station in record time. They have the effrontery to shoot up our satellites, and their president is a jivetime ponk in need of some hash settling. We're keen to see him get what-for, so file this one under Bullies Inc. 8/10.

Spuming Magical Destiny
Suppose a peasant longs to join the elite ranks, but faces jealousy in the ranks, with some pseudo-Inquisition types thrown in for good measure. It's the crab in the bucket syndrome: one tries to climb out, but the others can't be having that, and pull him back in. This plot fuels many a fantasy yarn. 9/10.

The One-Sided Equation
In 1995's The Killing Star, earth is hit out of the blue with kinetic weapons that destroy the planet. The aliens  hunt down every ship and outpost in the solar system. They explain to a pair of survivors (destined for a zoo) that mankind has emerged as a rival and must be quashed. A single ship escapes, and this screams sequel--you just know we'll be back to show these squid faces what calamari looks like. Only it never happens; the author has written it as a one-shot commentary. Now that's outrageous. 10/10.

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