1. BlitzGirl

    BlitzGirl Contributor Contributor

    May 30, 2018
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    A desperate journey across a desert

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by BlitzGirl, Dec 13, 2018.

    I'm now in the final stretch (for real, this time!) of my story, where the MC and a group of close companions have to travel across a desert to reach a mountain on the other side. And time is of the essence. I know that most of this segment is going to involve time skips/summaries, because I can't be writing dozens and dozens of pages about this. It's the end of the journey that matters most. But I haven't decided how large this desert really is, and therefore I don't know how long it will take them to get to the other side. They are traveling on horseback, which I know is 100% feasible by looking at historical accounts. Of course, this story is completely fictional, set in its own world.

    So, I'm just trying to figure out how I can best handle this. How to make the journey not take up too much page space in my story, while also not rushing it too much. The desert journey is just a means to an end, so it is still important, but not nearly as important as what the characters are trying to do. I love writing about journeys, but this is one of those moments where I don't think I can indulge myself too much, otherwise the story will veer off the side of the road too much, so to speak.

    Does that make sense?
    Stormburn likes this.
  2. Azuresun

    Azuresun Senior Member

    Mar 25, 2017
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    If I was writing something similar, I'd do it as a series of short scenes that highlight what they're dealing with in the desert, and how tough it is to travel across it, with the nature of the incidents depending on how desperate and long the crossing is.

    For example--having to ration water and getting dirty, gritty and dry-mouthed. Someone having a narrow escape from a natural hazard, a desert predator, potentially hostile native people, etc. A moment to appreciate the natural beauty of the place as they're setting up camp. Hiding from a brutal sandstorm, or finding the remains of a long-abandoned settlement or a dry riverbed. And the incidents can be chances for character moments (if it's a long and tedious trip, you'll probably want to talk to someone en route) so that it's not just a travelogue.
    Carriage Return and Stormburn like this.
  3. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

    Sep 6, 2014
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    What's the purpose of this part of the story? Does it contribute to plot, setting, characterization, or style? If not, or if it only sort of does, then I'd either cut it out or make it more important.

    I tend to write character-centred stories, so my go-to is characterization. Is there potential for the characters to realizing things about themselves/each other, change/adapt/grow, or otherwise do interesting character-y things, even when the setting isn't too exciting?
  4. LoaDyron

    LoaDyron Contributor Contributor

    Oct 27, 2018
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    I think the most important question is how your characters feel about this journey. By travelling on a dessert, they will have to face some difficulties — sandstorms, hallucinations, thirst, and fatigue. Even if they are prepared, they will come eventually during the journey to lose their resources. I don't know how your characters got there, but let's imagine they had from a very cold region and had no time to change themselves. Think about the consequences, what kind of challenges they will face while they are in the desert? When their resources are gone, will the survival instant speak more loudly?

    You are concern that maybe your dessert is too big for them to cross to the other side, and that is up to you. I will suggest you watch some videos about deserts or read articles to give you inspiration for distance. I hope this helps. Keep on good work and remember, have fun.:superagree:

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