I've thought about the value of Gossip in my writing. I've decided that having a 'home town gossip' in our stories is an invaluable tool. Think about Rachel Lind in Anne of Green Gables and how her gossip and judgments propelled so many plot twists and conflicts. Or how about the Olsens? What would Little House on the Prairie be without Harriet, Nellie and Willie meddling in everyone's personal affairs? Aside from a sappy string of dramatic warm fuzzies, it would be boring.
Tonight I reminisced with my niece about our favorite episodes. Hands down the ones we liked the most involved Nellie or her mother. The pranks, the deception, the gossiping, the back stabs, the revenge, the tricks, the heartache--we owe all of it to the Olsens. One episode in particular displays all of the many plot twists and turns that can come about all because one person, intentionally or non-intentionally, gossiped.
In this episode, Walnut Grove puts in a phone line. Of course very few people other than the Olsens can afford it, and Harriet runs the switchboard. To make the story short, by the time the 45 minute show concluded, a marriage was almost ruined, Harriet bet her entire inheritance on a faulty investment and all over town, family secrets hung out to dry like wet laundry on clotheslines. It all ends well of course, but the depth of the episode increased as misunderstanding after misunderstanding rolled through the town like a giant snow ball picking up momentum. The gossiping brought out the best and worst in the characters, giving us a rare and personal glimpse inside their lives.
If your plot needs an unexpected twist or complication, or if you need to flesh out one of your MC's, might I suggest you throw in a misunderstanding or two, preferably with a snotty nosed, villain like Nellie Olsen at the root of it all. Guaranteed you'll crank up your
Good Luck! I'm not the only Little House die hard out there am I?