Saturday, November 9, 2013

Crossroads, Foggy Swamps, and Cliffs of Insanity

In my first novel, the one that will probably be published AFTER my current work, (if at all) the main character, Brahms, tells his young protege, Eriq, "Choices make the man." In the context, Eriq is struggling with the fact that his background predisposes him to a life of using his magical abilities to hurt other people. Brahms, the eternal optimist, is trying to convince Eriq that the boy still has the ability to turn his life around through his own free will, even though he's made mistakes in the past.

Sometimes in life we feel we don't have choices. We always have choices. The problem is, we don't want to accept the consequences. Our choices define who we are and how we are perceived by others. It's an awful responsibility when you think about it. As much as we want to say, "I don't care what anyone thinks!" deep down we still want the love and approval of others. If our choices hurt them, even if those choices are "for their own good," then someone is going to be disappointed.

In writing, we have to choose carefully for our characters. What do they look like? What do they sound like? What are their quirks? What are their strengths? Weaknesses?

And beyond those bits of trivia are the choices THEY must make. Do we send them to the crossroads where they have clear choices and clear consequences (presumably!) ahead? Do we send them to the foggy swamps where they have no idea what they will face but they know they have to slog through and tackle whatever pops up out of the mire? Or do we plop them at the bottom of a huge cliff and insist they try to climb to the top before the evil mastermind cuts the rope?

What is the BEST choice?

Sometimes as a writer, that question haunts me. I write and re-write a scene and I can't figure out what is the BEST choice. Then I realize...remember, actually...that sometimes there ISN'T a best choice. Sometimes you just have to MAKE a choice and stick with it. That, my friends, is so hard to do at times. You doubt yourself. You doubt your writing. You doubt your choice. But you can't let the choice keep you from the writing.

Wow. Am I preaching to myself today or what?

So, a little teary-eyed from a self-revelation, I'm going to post, go back to my poor story that's been hanging in the cybercloud for some time and make some choices.

Go make your own. But remember, there are always consequences. ;-)