Friday, April 25, 2014

The Bright Side of Sin

By Sarah Reichert

I leave for Las Vegas in two days.  The city of sin.  Before I go on, let me explain that I’m not particularly fond of Las Vegas itself.  I’m not a gambler.  I try not to drink excessively (no matter what a certain garden gnome from a certain conference might tell you).  I shudder at its unnatural greenness and its electrical bills.  I am, however, looking forward to time away with friends and some uninterrupted brainstorming.  Las Vegas offers an excellent opportunity to create new characters and plots in one of the most oddly constructed and nature-defiant places in the United States.

The greatest part of Las Vegas, for me, is studying human nature.  After all, the city touts anonymity for impulses you may not otherwise act on. You could be anyone.  You could stretch your limits.  You could wake up next to a ring-tailed lemur in a tutu.  People do funny things when they think no one’s judging.  Which brings me to my point for today’s post.  Sin.

Whether you're trying to count out all of the seven deadliest on your fingers (I know you are) or thinking of the lesser, more forgivable ones, we all think about and occasionally commit sin.  Sin and writing are essential partners.  Not that we, as writers, should sin unreasonably, but that our characters benefit from a taste of the forbidden.  After all, what makes a character more interesting than the presence of a little darkness?  

Sin and how humans deal with it drives character development.  Sin can form the foundations of plot lines and themes.  Sometimes an entire book’s premise is dependent upon the things we know we shouldn’t do.  A character must overcome their particular sin, undergoing an often painful metamorphosis, in order to drive a story on and reach a satisfying conclusion.  Sin sells.  People love to read about others’ sin.  It makes us feel more at home in our own skin.  It makes us feel better about that chocolate birthday cake binge or helps us feel normal when we crinkle our noses at the new Mercedes down the street.

So, with more self control than I had in my twenties, I look forward to this trip into the fantastic.

What’s one of your favorite sins to write about?  

Bonus Question: How did the lemur get into a tutu, and in your bed for that matter? 


Sarah Sullivan said...

I agree with everything you write about L.V. I have found myself there twice this year (once for a conference and once as a leaping-off place for a trip to the Grand Canyon). It offers the very best people watching. My 10 y.o. son was so awed by what he saw in human nature and geography that it inspired the setting for the "book" on which he has been working. Have fun!

RichardK said...

I used to love Vegas, but on my last trip I started to get that "meh" feeling. It could've been the depression muting the sensations, but I think it's gotten a bit too loud and bright on the Strip. Frankly, I enjoyed the drive to L.V. and the Hoover Dam more than I did our nightly trips out to see the sights. Nevertheless, I did get a manuscript idea out of the last trip. Think multiple Elvises.

John Paul McKinney said...

I agree; whether mortal or venial, sin really is the stuff of literature. Yes, and the overcoming of sin, or even temptation, against enormous pressure. Thanks for the post.

Shirley Drew said...


I love your description of Vegas--and feel similarly to you. I don't know what my favorite sin to write about is...yet. But I would guess writing about murder might be fun, only because I can't imagine ever doing it. As for the Bonus Question: He's in Vegas because he got lost on his way back to Madagascar, I suppose. As for why he's in my bed? I have no earthly idea...

Patricia Stoltey said...

One of my oldest friends lives in Las Vegas now, and I've been thinking about paying her a visit. People watching is the best part (but the last time I visited her, we sat outside to eat ice cream and watch the crowds...and it was so hot the ice cream melted faster than we could eat it).

Share a Post