Wednesday, August 20, 2008

What Happens

In writing, as in real life, it isn't what happens that matters nearly so much as how a person—or character in a novel—acts and reacts because of a given event.

Faced with a crisis, one person will retreat, another advance as though waging war on the challenge. If someone else is in crisis, one person will approach with compassion and wanting to know how to help, another will withdraw afraid of having too much asked of him or her. In a crisis, one person will come up with a solution and insist it is the only one that can work. Another person will listen to all possibilities and be open to choosing one that is not his or her own.

Ironically, it is the person willing to listen who is likely to have the best ideas (because he or she listens to and learns from others) but odds are the idea chosen will be the one pushed by the most forceful personality who insists on only considering his or her own.

Each person's style is likely to have been shaped by the past as well as by innate personality.

In writing, it's important to look at WHY your characters do what they do and to stop and consider all sorts of possible actions and reactions for a given character. As you show those actions and reactions changing, you are showing the reader the character growth that is taking place.

In real life, there is power and wisdom in stepping back and asking oneself if one's actions and reactions are really serving one well—and to consider changing if they aren't.

PS Sophy and I are settling in nicely. I'm discovering how clever she is and she's discovering that there are limits to what's allowed. She's sweet and affectionate and I'm so glad I adopted her!