Let the buffalo chase the tiger. I dare you.


(originally posted 3/3/2008 on Writingscape V1.0)

While surfing to see if there were any documentaries I might need to check out on the Toob, I ran across something on ANIMAL PLANET called Living With Tigers, where a trainer was teaching two zoo-born tiger cubs (named Julie and Ron) to hunt and live in the wild so they would survive when released. It was a long, slow process that began when they were three or four months old, I think. And when I came into the fray, the Bengal cubs were about a year old (humongous monsters).

This has to do with fiction writing, I swear. Just hang in there.

Though I do have a tiger in a novel, I already have all the info I need on him. I wouldn’t have stopped on the channel but for one thing that so compelled me, all I could do was sit there and watch. And laugh. Tiger is low to the ground, sneaking up on African water buffalo herd. A big buffalo spots tiger. Everyone runs and the race is on, right? How many times have we all seen that? Didn’t happen, though. Tiger froze, began backing away. Buffalo comes trotting over, steam pouring out of its nostrils. Tiger turns tail and runs for its life, with buffalo right on its heels. The rest of the herd joins in.

Apex predator is being seriously pursued by prey.

Later, I found out that the tiger hadn’t yet learned to recognize what was LIVE food and what was not. It learned pretty quickly after that, though.

My point is—sometimes hooking a reader involves flipping the script on your protagonist and putting him/her in a situation people least expect him/her to be in. It could be something as simple as the world’s most talented thief getting mugged himself—and mugged well. Flip that script.

It certainly got me. I ended up watching the whole thing.

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