For the first time in my book touring life, I am going on a “road trip” instead of flying, training, busing, and rental carring.
The Danika Road Trip is a special kind of road trip. Be forewarned when travelling with me. If I see a sign in Nebraska for the Pony Express Station or in Arizona for indigenous cliff dwellings, I will make a spontaneous side trip. World’s largest ball of twine? I’m there.
If I get off schedule, I will drive until I can’t drive any more and sleep in my car. I bring camping gear in case there’s a mesa I have to climb and get tuckered out. I WILL take the scenic route if one is offered. I WILL take the road less travelled (I almost got stranded in the middle of New Mexico when a sudden rain storm turned the dirt road into a slick mud bath). And if there is a sign anywhere for SALT WATER TAFFY, I will stop.
I adore road trips and Road Trip Stories. Every story is a journey, and the enjoyment of the story comes from being taken along for the ride. In this case a literal ride. Every story has an inward journey and an outward journey. For me a good road trip story (aka quest) entails the protagonist encountering a series of unexpected characters and events that precipitate profound change in him or her. What I love is both the anticipation of the unexpected and the twists those unexpected encounters allow.
Even if your character isn’t travelling cross country, you can use the idea of a “road trip” in a microcosmic sense. Perhaps your character is turned away at a club, her friends go in without her, and she must find her way home. When her car breaks down, she decides to walk, cutting through an alley and ending up in one unexpected place after another. On this journey home, she meets archetypal characters who lead her astray, give her tasks to complete, and inevitably teach her something new.
Archetypes are NOT stereotypes. The “gatekeeper” could be the bouncer at the club, the “wise sage” could be a garbage man who gives her a lift, the “trickster” could be a skater girl, the “matriarch” could be the waitress at the donut shop. Archetypes tell us why characters behave the way they do, not who they are. (COMMON ARCHETYPES)
Road Trips in Literature and Film
I think of Homer’s Odyssey as the original “road trip.” Lord of the Rings is also a road trip. Some of my other favourite road trip stories (in no particular order) include:
Libba Bray’s Goine Bovine
John Green’s An Abundance of Katherine’s.
William Least Heat-Moon’s Blue Highways
Kerouac’s On the Road
Thelma and Louise
Little Miss Sunshine
Oh Brother Where Art Thou?
What are some of yours?
ROAD TRIP CONTEST!
While on my road trip I decided to bring along four books to read featuring road trips (how meta of me, right?). So far I have decided on Station Eleven, Goodnight Sunshine, and Flaming Iguanas.
Help me decide on a fourth Road Trip book to bring along for the ride!
Mention it in the comments below (up to 3 suggestions). Any genre is welcome. I will choose the book I think complements the other three to create a diverse mix. (i.e. you might not want to pick The Road by Cormac McCarthy b/c I’m already reading one post-apocalyptic story). You may not pick one that someone else has already named.
The WINNER will receive a special souvenir from my Road Trip Book Tour along with a $10 Amazon gift card.
ENTRY DEADLINE: April 3
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YOUR WRITING WORKOUT
As with the example above, your character might not take a long distance journey, but you can still use the idea of a “road trip” to structure your tale. Give your character a goal (to get home, to buy groceries, to locate a lost dragon, to find the waterfall of longevity), trials and tribulations that stand in her way, characters that help or hinder, and redemption/change (i.e. the better self) through the experience.
TIMED WRITING GUIDELINES
Set your timer for 5 -10 minutes per startline
(I increase the time with each startline: 5 min, 7 min, 10 min …)
When timer starts: write, don’t stop, don’t edit, don’t cross out.
My character’s “road trip” begins when . . .
On this journey my character is delayed by . . .
Help appears in the form of . . .
By the time my character reaches her destination she has learned . . .
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*ROAD TRIP BOOK TOUR: the series
This series will feature posts on what it takes to create a book tour as an author with an independent press (aka an “authorpreneurial” book tour). I will share my process and strategies and then take you on tour with me.
I have no idea what will happen . . .