Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Tuesday Tropes: Drawing Straws

Decisions are made every day. Some easy, others hard, and few are unthinkable. When a daunting task appears or a selection needs to be made, this trope offers a solution when no volunteers step up to the plate.

Drawing Straws - a method for a group of characters to make a decision, usually to select someone in the group to complete a task when no one wants to do it.

Not to be confused with The Lottery of Doom, this trope can be done using a variety of items. How did young Oliver Twist get suckered into asking for "more" gruel? He drew the long straw. In the long run, it was the best thing that could happen.

Drawing Straws may not be limited to "straws only." They could be sticks, matchsticks (a popular choice, as used in the film Clue and Stephen King's IT), pickled eggs (as seen in The Simpsons), rocks in a sack, or folded pieces of paper with a mark on one of them.

Straw's the limit.

Use whatever variation you'd like, to accomplish whatever task that needs to be done, or you can be a rebel and volunteer after the fact ... even in space!

Ever used this or a variation of Drawing Straws in your writing? What did you use? What was the outcome?

I'm David, and pick a straw .. any straw!


  1. Or if you're really drunk there's always the pissing contest.

  2. I've done Rock, Paper, Scissors in real life, but never in writing a book. There's a book coming out (or just came out) in the CBA market called something like, The Short Straw Bride. That definitely has some straw pulling. :)

    1. Funny you should say that. I know someone who is reading that. Thanks.

  3. There is also one person grasping a stick/rod/bat with the competitor grasping just below his grip. They do this until one person has no place to grab hold of. We used to use this as kids to see who would start the choosing up sides process in baseball.

    I have always taken this to be the origin of "getting the short end of the stick" but there seems to be alternative explanations.

  4. The Lottery of Doom makes me think of The Hunger Games and Primrose Everdeen.

    I don't think I've used this trope, either.

  5. Ooooo... adding this to my list of ideas... ;)

    Never used the straw, but I'll take one!

  6. Always love to add a writer's block breaker to my list. Thanks for this idea.

  7. i usually do something simila to get my characters into then out of situations...but i pick!

  8. I pick the left-most green straw!!!

    I haven't used a drawing straws or variation in my stories yet... Hmm :)

  9. In not showing up to a meeting a form or "drawing straws?"

    I haven't done this in my novels yet; mostly everyone looks around, and finally the one best suited for the job speaks up, with a couple conditions.


  10. Thanks for following. I think your name's great for SFF. (My name's pretty good for Horror. Heh-heh.) I'm a big SF fan. Your 500k SF trilogy reminds me of something Peter K. Hamilton would write. He's my fav.
    Have a great week! :-)

  11. I've never used this trope before, but I may some day in the future. To me, it's almost funny, and I'm not sure if I could write it without laughing. :)


  12. I may have to do something like that for killing off my characters (as in me doing it, not the characters; no, they get killed by dragons...). I guess I could just kill off the least interesting ones...