In my Internet meanderings (hey, it was a holiday weekend, I'm allowed!), I came across this interesting bit of news:

According to Dr Dirk Glaesser, Head of Risk and Emergency Planning at the UN
World Tourism Organisation - 20 people die every year because of shark attacks.
At the same time, an unnoticed fact goes by, that 150 people die every year as a
result of coconuts falling on their head! Which one is the most dangerous?
Coconuts are the symbol of holidays whereas Sharks are the fear of every beach
holiday. Ian Yeoman, Trends Analyst writes that many destinations take sensible precautions when it comes to sharks, i.e., safety notices, patrols and bylaws, whereas no one bothers about coconuts as they are not perceived to be a danger to tourists or tourism. It’s all about risk and perception.

You can find the rest of the article here:

I can just imagine it now: DH and I walking hand-in-hand along the beach, thinking that we're in paradise, when a cabana boy comes running out of the bar area screaming: "Coconuts!"

Would we run? Probably not. Knowing our luck, we'd stop in our tracks and look up. ;)

But I liked what Mr. Yeoman said about risk and perception. I think that's what gets a lot of writers (and readers) messed up when it comes to that whole goal. motivation and conflict thing.

As writers, it's our job to ensure that a reader understands that while something may not appear to be that frightening/important/challenging in the today's world, it's frightening/important/challenging for the character living in the world we created. It's about belief. Most readers are looking to be drawn into a world where things may not be as they expect them to be, but few will accept a world where they spend more time shaking their heads than rooting for your characters.

So, even though statistics claim that coconuts are more dangerous, I think I'm better off sticking to having a shark as the scary element waiting for the unaware tourists to dip their toes in the ocean.


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