It’s Not the Author Who Matters

Going along with the characters tell the story idea, there’s this thing that’s been bugging me, and I think that in many ways I highlighted this with Any Other Reality.

Yes, that story is, in many ways, a spoof. It pokes fun at a type of fiction that–don’t get me wrong, I love. I have given many years of my life and much effort–almost blood, sweat, and tears to this type of writing.

What it really gets at, though, in the end, is the authors.

And I include myself in that number. I’m not immune. The pygmies are even mentioned.

I think one of the worst things a writer can do is forget to respect their characters. They’re human (sometimes) and bound to make mistakes, but they generally have reasons for the choices that they make. Ignoring their basic motivations and history to tell the story the way the author wants it is not right. It’s a bad process, and going down that road will not improve anyone’s storytelling. As a reader, when a character makes a choice that comes out of left field, you’ve just about lost me. Sometimes I stick around to see why they did that, and other times I’m just done. I can tell I won’t like where it’s going if that stuff happens.

Some equate writing to playing god. That’s something I’ve never liked.

I create characters, yes. I create worlds. They live in these worlds.

Does that make me the puppet master?

I try very hard not to be. They have reasons and motivations, and really, I’m just telling their story. It’s like I was a silent witness to it, not that I was telling them what to do. I wrote it down, but I didn’t interact.

So I feel the story is the main thing. It’s all that matters.

Forget I was even there.

The Story Before the Story Might Need Telling

A piece of my plot is… missing. It’s a conundrum.

It’s difficult to explain that without spoiling the entire plot of The Monster in My Garden Shed. I could try, but I think it’s better if I just work on figuring it out, and when I’ve got it fixed, people will know because I’ll finish the story. My brain processes better when I’m trying to sleep, so perhaps tonight, after having a long discussion about it, I will know what the deep dark secret is.

In the meantime, I distracted myself by writing more flashbacks–I could probably fill a whole novel with the relationship between two of the characters before the story starts, and I admit, it’s tempting to go to that story… only I think it would really only interest… me.  I can’t say that the earlier scenes I’ve written haven’t been enjoyed by at least one other person, but that’s a few scattered scenes, not a complete story of nothing but them.

Personally, I love the dynamics between characters, their interactions and especially their banter. Even if that was all a story was, I might just be okay with that. It doesn’t work for everyone, and even for me, as a writer, that pesky thing known as a plot comes in and intervenes. I do pretty well with plot. It’s not my enemy. It’s not necessarily my friend, though, either.

I think it’s safe to say we’re occasional allies, but mostly, it likes to ruin things for me.

The trick is in balancing plot with interaction and even introspection and dare I name my weakness? Description.

I think I have a fairly good system at this point. I write my banter and interaction, then I reread, I find the lack of description and introspection, and I add that in. It’s still unbalanced, but I do believe I’m getting better at it. I will probably never be one of those authors that paints an entire world with my words, but I know one thing for sure: you can hear the words my characters speak exactly as they say them. It’s something I’ve heard before, though for me, I do hear them as I write.

The voices are clear.

The plot? Maybe not so much.  This could be why summaries give me such fits to write.

There is a certain bitter sweetness to flashbacks and stories before the story. A prequel always has to end, and that ending is fixed and even known before the whole thing starts. That said, why would I go through the path and take it to the painful end that I know is coming?

I’m not sure. I faced this problem before with a story I set aside, and my only solution there was not to do it. This one is, of course, different, so I can’t say that I’d walk away from it entirely, and key points of the past have to be known to me, at the very least.

That reminds me. There is one moment I don’t think I’ve touched on for Garden Shed that I have to make sure I don’t forget about. I think I know where I’ll put it, though. I’m trying to keep these flashbacks relevant, and I know that this one would lead right into…

Oh, I can’t tell you that. I’d spoil the story.

After I’ve finished it, I might tell you what I mean by all these vague hints.