Who Carries the Plot?

Is it the characters that carry the plot or is it the plot carries the characters? I’m not sure. Perhaps there isn’t a simple answer to that, at least not for me.

For me, stories never start with a character. My mind is so deep in the gutter I imagine entire worlds before I move down into a single character’s perspective. Sometimes it feels like the purpose of my stories are to give a satisfying conclusion to a tale that will never be published, that only exist in my head. Kinda like the first three Star Wars movies, a lot had happened before then and the prequels didn’t really need to be made.

Not that I’m a very big Star Wars fan but I just saw the Rise of Skywalker and Star Wars was on my head… In any case, this means that the characters are not in control of the plot, right? They have a destiny to fulfill and that is to finish what the past started.

Yeah, now that I think about it, it’s not the characters that make me excited, it is the concepts and ideas that I love to explore; the characters just helps me do it.

For instance, lets say there’s a boy who finds a magic item in a world where magic shouldn’t exist. He has to come to terms with magic existing and what he should do with that power. Do I then need to know the character before I start writing or will the character reveal himself through his actions?

How To Make A Short Story Work

Making stories that you wanna make, and making the stories that people wanna read, can be two different things sometimes.

I have this short story, my very first short story in fact, called “Colony Sane” that I have been working on for almost a year now.

Writing the same story for such an extensive time can be exhausting, but it is, unfortunately, necessary when you are starting off as a writer. Because in the beginning of your writing career, or any career for that matter, you improve your craft incredibly fast; making slightly better garbage each time. Hence, my story has been revised more times that I can remember.

In any case, the idea was for the story to be around 30-40 pages long. But after some reviews, it seemed that was not possible. People wanted to learn more about the characters and the world I created, which is awesome criticism, but I didn’t want to make the story as long as they wanted it to be.

After my second major revision, I received the same criticism, that the world and the characters needed to be fleshed out. At this point, I considered ignoring the critique and simply publish it as it was. But I realised that their criticism wasn’t unfounded, it was their solution to the problem that was.

You see: more words doesn’t equal a better story. In fact, some of the greatest works are short stories.

So, how do you make a short story work then?

In my case, the problem was that the readers wanted to know more because the MC (Main Character) knew things that the readers didn’t. I had left out information just to keep the story short, which is a bad idea. The readers need to know exactly as much as the MC does, this is the key to a good short story.A lot of things can happen in the background and be implicit, but as long as the MC doesn’t know what’s going on, and sometimes never will, then the readers can accept not knowing as well.

I may end up expanding the story in the future, if the demand is high enough. Much like how Hugh Howey did with the Wool Trilogy. (Strongly recommend this story, by the way)

If you are curious, about Colony Sane, you can read it for free on Tablo. I am still editing it though

Do we Write Characters or Real People? – Writer’s Journal

I read once that all characters that are written, have some small aspect of the writer in them.

Whether that may be the case or not, my characters certainly has some aspect of, or at least my idea of myself, in them. But I have also found that as the story progress, those personalities change, they grow, and so they grow away from my idea of myself.

Hemingway once said that; “when writing a novel a writer should create living people; people not characters. A character is a caricature.”

I don’t know, I’d like to believe that the people that I create grows on their own, as I create a scenario or a world for them to live in, they make their own choices based on the options that I give them. It is not I who choose who they become in the end, but I choose how their story begin.

 

Evil Antagonist

While writing a very early draft of the book I realised that I have used the most heinous fantasy trope of all! The antagonist is evil for the sake of being evil… When writing a story you use inspirations from things that you have already read or watched, intentionally or not. That is why I believe when you write a story you really need to understand what you write. Where did this idea come from? Where have you heard this before? It is not wrong by any means because artists steal from each others ideas all the time. But to be successful there must be some measure of creativity to survive as a writer. The easiest way to do this is by identifying the common tropes and try to avoid them.

I decided to keep the antagonist but I wanted to make him more deep. The question that I want the readers to ask, when they are introduced to the villain is, is his actions really evil? Actually, the villain will be introduced very late in the book. The protagonist will have no idea of the identity, or if there is one main villain at all until very late in the story. The only thing the main character knows is that his quest is important. But it is never completely obvious why, or whats at stake. I think this opens up some interesting ways to make the main character doubt his own worth or doubt the journey as a whole.