One of the principles that I strive to instill in my creative writing students is that they should learn how to “torture” their characters—and by this I mean throwing all sorts of problems at them. It’s just that I find that most young writers tend to wrap up problems quickly—or have no problems at all in their stories.
But when you set your story in a circus, such as we have been doing all week at the CWC Circus Camp in Yongin, Korea, then you have the perfect recipe for problems.
I began this particular workshop by breaking down the different aspects of a chase, and then had the students brainstorm some ideas for their own stories. The next step was to draw a map that showed the route of the chase. Most chose a circus tent (I tried to convince some of them to use a circus train—like that wonderful scene from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade).
Many of the students are still working on their maps, but once they’re complete, they will serve as perfect visual plot outlines for writing climatic chase scenes.