Tuesday, September 6, 2011

All Hope Is Gone

So this week, we’re scheduled to write about our favourite scenes in our upcoming books, and I have no idea how to do that without spoiling the bejeezus out of things.
Maybe if you go watch this video of kittens duelling with lightsabers, I’ll have thought of something un-spoilerific by the time you get back.
… nope. Still got nuthin’.
So let me try to explain it without really explaining anything. My favourite scene in STORMDANCER is what I call the ‘All Hope Is Gone’ moment. It’s the point in the story where it seems like things are moving smoothly towards resolution and victory and Happy Dances™, and then everything goes horribly, horribly wrong. And hopefully, the reader is left sitting there, blinking at the page, wondering how in hell we can have Happy Dances™ after something so singularly awful has happened.
Best example of what I'm talking about? The Princess Bride. Now, if you haven’t actually seen the Princess Bride (my god, what are you doing here?), you totally should. Go away and watch it, and we’ll hang here with the lightsaber kittens ‘til you get back.
Pretty good, wasn't it?

Now in the Princess Bride, the AHIG moment happens thusly:
Wesley has rescued Buttercup from the Fire Swamp, and they’re speeding towards the ship Revenge, ready to sail off into the sunset and make lots of Dread Pirate babies. But instead, they get captured by the dude who played the vampire in Fright Night (original, not the new one with David Tennant in tight leather pants) and a man with six fingers.
“Captured?” you’re thinking. “Pfft, no big deal. People escape capture all the time.  In fantasy settings, it’s practically mandatory  that the hero gets captured and tortured before escaping, effecting bloody revenge on the Big Bad Guy and skipping over the castle wall with the hottie on his/her shoulder.”
Which is all true, of course. But instead of escaping, Wesley gets killed. No flesh wounds. No playing possum. Just stone cold murdered.
And Fred Savage is all WTF’ing at his Grandpa, shouting “Damn you, old man, you’re ruining the story, we should’ve had you committed to that retirement home where they harvest your ailing flesh for organs…” and the viewer is all like “Wow, didn’t see that coming. Maybe Buttercup hooks up with Andre the Giant?”
And then Grandpa drops another straight-shot to the baby-maker on us: the bad guy doesn’t even die at the end of the book. The evil Prince LIVES! And Fred Savage loses his tiny mind and starts screaming blasphemy and rending his garments, and the viewer starts looking sideways at the person who recommended the film and wondering if they’ve been tricked into watching some French arthouse movie about the futility of existence.
All hope seems gone.
And that is my favourite scene in STORMDANCER.
(well, no Fred Savage, but you get the idea)

Jay Kristoff is the author of STORMDANCER, a dystopian fantasy set in steampunk feudal Japan, out in Spring 2012 through St Martin's Press & Tor UK.
You killed his father. Prepare to die.


  1. HA HA! I love your breakdown of that scene in The Princess Bride.

    My favorite part of my book is the "all hope is lost" moment, too. Maybe we both like to torture our characters? :)

    Actually, it's my favorite because of what my character learns about herself and realizes how strong she can be-- and has to be.

    Looking forward to reading your book!

  2. Yeah, I agree. It's in those moments of crisis that characters really get to define themselves. We see them at their best (or sometimes, their worst)

    Thanks, I'm looking forward to you reading it too :)