I am humbled to say that I am learning to write “Short Story” fiction. I am learning the basics of scene, plot, dramatic tension, turning points, dialogue and character development.
I am learning what to leave out, and when to leave it out, are just as important as what I decide to put into a story. What I post on this blog from time to time will be the markers of my progress.
Today I had a conversation with a friend. I said of a character I am developing: “She surprised me. She was more irreverent than I thought.” My friend responded: “I don’t get it. You are creating her. She can’t surprise you. “She” doesn’t exist!” Well, I cannot of course argue with logic or the evidence of her case. I can only tell her she has no case. The fact is that the character surprised me. I let her surprise me. I let her be who she wanted to be. Having been what she wanted to be, the harsh fact is that now everything else she is will be consistent with that character trait. In effect, she will continue to create herself.
So, yes I create the character, and yes, she creates herself. That makes sense to me, if to no one else, and frankly, I prefer it that way. As I said to my friend: If my characters did not surprise me, they would hardly be characters. They would be machines, and I would be pulling the levers. If that were so, even if my audience enjoyed the character, I would be too bored to finish the writing.
Together, then, my fledgling character and I will see if she has what it takes to experience life. My challenge as a novice fiction writer is to bring life to her, to give her a genuine world with realities of pain, joy, suffering, disappointment and ecstasy. She must eventually be surprised herself by the way life happens unexpectedly, and changes her for good or ill.