Friday, October 16, 2009

Friday Forays in Fiction: Wanting

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Over and over again as I peruse the fiction writing advice books I encounter the advice--no advice is not the right word, it is more like a dictum or commandment: Thy characters SHALL want. Or else!

Or else thy story shall burn in hell.

I have a really, really, really, hard time working with my character's wants. Oh, I can give them theoretical wants when mapping out their character sketch outlines and I can even show in a logic flow chart how that want must influence their behavior and thus the plot but when it comes to hanging the central conflict of the story and its concomitant plot twists and turns that create the course which the characters must traverse and the hurdles which they must jump or trip over it all falls flat.

I have been banging my head on the sky over this conundrum for years and I think I just had a major insight about it. It began by realizing that their wants are wrapped in cotton candy and cocooned in caterpillar silk and hung by a spider web from the hook of the moon in a dense cold fog. Which thought immediately led to:

Just like mine.

And then I saw that giving my protagonists meaningful wants was just as difficult as giving my villains villainous traits (and wants) and as I asked myself why it should be that giving my good guys good motives was as hard as giving my bad guys bad motives I realized that it was all tied back to my own childhood training in which I somehow internalized the message that it wasn't just unrighteous wants that were unrighteous but wanting itself.

Which if followed to its logical conclusion would make living itself untenable for who alive does not want to live? And if one must repudiate wanting what becomes of that want?

So my mind is still reeling with this insight and I need to think about it. Maybe dream about it. Maybe write a personal journal about it; or a poem.

This could have multiple impacts on my FOS storyworld stories since, because this pox on wants was at least partially imparted by the fundamentalist sect I was raised in, this could give me important information and insight into the sect/cult I've set up in the storyworld as the primary antagonist against which all the major characters are pitted against.

I've mentioned here before that this storyworld has played the role of therapist for me since my traumatic break from the sect I was raised in. This is one of the best examples of exactly how it does so.

Dare I admit that I want it to be much more than my personal therapy? That I want to send it out into the world to live? That I want my beloved characters to live in more hearts than just my own? Dare I claim that want as my own? Dare I maintain that want as righteous?

Oh to be a cat without qualms about wanting. Oh to be able to perch atop a TV antenna declaring 'I could get it if I wanted'. Even the moon. No apology appended.

0 tell me a story:

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