“And the mouse-police never sleeps…” Jethro Tull, Heavy Horses
The hunter and the hunted… so many books. And many is the book told from the point of view of the hunted. The hunted themselves may have goals (sometimes to defeat the hunter – See LotR).
I was thinking about the structure of these. The typical thriller/detective is usually from the point of view of the cat (not always) stalking the criminal/hunted. The tension comes from either that the hunted will succeed in whatever dastardly deed they plan, or most likely in the scene where the cat/hunter catches up with the criminal/hunted – usually in the act, and… the tables turn. At least briefly the hunter becomes the prey. They duke it out and (mostly anyway, unless the villain gets away for the sequel) and the original hunter triumphs.
A lot of fantasy, of course, works the other way around, with the small/weak ‘mouse’ being hunted by the cat/power and authority. Inevitably the mouse improves his ability and strength – and with each improvement the weight of the ‘cat’ chasing him has to increase too (otherwise the book gets boring, PDQ). The book often hinges on the ‘turn’ point, where the desperate prey finally strikes back. At the deathstar or Mount Doom, the hunted almost inevitably take on a far bigger foe, and twist the obvious.
Aside from anything else this obviously plays on the human trait of sympathy for the underdog, the smaller, the weaker (One sees this in the sympathy Ukraine garners from being attacked by the much larger Russia – and the delight of many at the bigger power getting a black eye.)
As a writer there are a couple of things worth focusing on here. 1)The worm needs to turn, but the odds must still be against it. 2)The hunted simply can’t be too good, or too big or too capable (yes, I am having this very problem in one of my stories at the moment).
This message is brought to you via a manuscript I got suckered into looking at where the hero starts like superman, and easily overcomes obstacle after obstacle on their way to being the ruler of everything, bless their heart.
Picture: Pixabay, no attribution required.