My book is back and I am raring to go. I have work for others before I delve in, but in reading and editing for them has been incredibly stimulating and helps get my creative juices motivated!
I am working with two amazing writers presently, two very different styles and both solid in what they write and what they want to present for their readers. When they have completed their books and publish , I will write my review and give you their author names and titles , so that you can enjoy them as much as I have.
Okay. So after reading for others, and of course reading my own book that came slowly back into my waiting computer, I’ve been hedging on which comes first, plot or character. Honestly, you can’t divorce one from the other.
What compels a reader to finish a book; what keeps you reading to the very end?
It’s not just an interesting character, is it? It’s finding out what happens to that character.
Have you ever heard the phrase “character is destiny”? It is attributed to Greek philosopher Heraclitus, who must have been a keen observer of human nature. Thousands of years before the advent of psychology, Heraclitus asserted that one’s inner life manifests in one’s outer life. Put another way, it is not so much what happens to us as it is how we react to what happens to us. And because life gets complicated fast, so does fiction. Even in the most mundane situations, we have choices, lots of them, and how we react affects our destinies, sometimes by inches and other times by miles.
The example I’ll offer is one I use often because it’s so ordinary—and we’ve all been there. Picture it: you have run to the grocery store to grab some dinner. You are waiting your turn with the cashier even as you juggle the makings of dinner: a boxed frozen pizza, a bag of mixed greens, and a small carton of ice cream. That’s not all. Wedged into your armpit is a slippery bottle of Chardonnay. You’re nearly at the front of the line when abruptly, and without a glance in your direction, a wiry man with a jar of pickles sidles in front of you. It’s blatant—he’s cutting in line. What are you going to do about it?
Surprisingly, there are numerous ways to react, and among them is my husband’s likely response: shrugging his shoulder and letting him in. A friend of mine would have been less kind. She would have turned to the person behind her and complained loudly about the rudeness of “some people.” Lots of us would suffer in silence; others would be too engrossed in their phones to notice the intrusion. Someone out there might draw a gun, and at least one frazzled young mother would burst into tears.
So I have to think this: Unless I or any writer, have real insight into our fictional characters, you don’t know how they will react in even the most mundane of circumstances, and without that knowledge, we aren’t ready to plan or be sure of one's plot. The answer isn’t simple, but that’s life—and fiction. Someone once said in my long ago creative writing class that “character IS plot.” That perspective helps me create a character whose very description implies all sorts of potential action. No matter the depth of one's writing, the necessary fact is that our characters need to to go hand in hand with the plot , making it real and worthy of reading.