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Pulp Fiction in the Forest
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Last week my brother and I got out orienteering. Not surprisingly we did better as a team than I did on my own earlier in the year. I guess I am just a born collaborator.

Unfortunately navigating slowly but steadily almost directly to every control point does not make for a very exciting essay. My solo orienteering forays are far more gripping. They tend to adhere to the Master Fiction Plot described by Doc Savage author Lester Dent.

Dent divided his thrilling pulp stories into four 1,500 word sections, each of which needed to contain certain ennumerated elements. For starters, consider the elements of the first scene:

1. First line, or as near thereto as possible, introduce the hero and swat him with a fistful of trouble. Hint at a mystery, a menace or a problem to be solved--something the hero has to cope with.

Well, a map and a compass seem to help some orienteers, but they're a fistful of trouble for me. And a dozen flags hiding out in the woods present both a mystery and a menace to cope with.

2. The hero pitches in to cope with his fistful of trouble.

Right. I walk into the woods fumbling with map and compass. I think the control's over...uh...there? Or is it behind me?

3. Introduce ALL the other characters as soon as possible. Bring them on in action.

I'm all the characters there are, unfortunately.

4. Hero's endevours land him in an actual physical conflict.

Okay. I should have known not to try and cross that stretch of mountain laurel. I thought I noticed an opening. If only I'd brought my machete. If I can just crawl under these branches to that creek I can hear, without coming nose to snout with a bear. Not that a very large bear could squeeze into this tangle. Or could it? What's that? A snake?!!

5. Near the end of first 1500 words, there is a complete surprise twist in the plot development. Aha, I've escaped the trap and there's the control flag. I know exactly where I am. Wait...the control number's wrong! That's not the flag I'm lookg for!! Now I'm totally lost!

Mind you, I had a lot more fun last week finding the controls with no problem even if it didn't make for good art.

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