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Wisps of Writing Wisdom: Choices February 29, 2012

Posted by shannonmuir in analysis, characters, wisps of writing wisdom, world building.
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This week’s bit of Wisps is not inspired by any one event, but several events of the past couple of years that I’ve had on my mind recently.

Life is full of hard choices. Sometimes they’re as simple as what type of ice cream to eat for the day, which may not seem that hard on the surface except that how pleased you are with your choice could affect your mood for the rest of the day (especially if the one you choose causes you to run out of one, of which you want more later, and then you’re on a downer). Perhaps it’s a little more complicated than that. You are at a job that you love and someone offers you what seems to be the opportunity of the lifetime, but you don’t know anything about people offering this incredible new venture; you have to decide if it is worth risking everything for. The stakes could be even higher. Maybe you have to decide whether or not to forgive someone in order to try to build a new kind of relationship from something that has gone sour in the past.

People make choices of all kinds of levels every day. So do characters, as they should, since to be strong believable characters they must be like multifaceted individuals and not cardboard cutouts. This isn’t easy to achieve, and even I struggle with it sometimes. The key is that when a character confronts an area of choice, take a deep look and make sure they don’t make a choice simply for the writer’s convenience – readers see through to that and get frustrated. Make sure there are strong compelling reasons for  characters to choose to do what they do, and readers will go along for the ride, which in turn boosts your world building (whether your setting is Earth or somewhere new).  The world will feel more real to the readers.



1. shannonmuir - March 1, 2012

Something in my life today put a lot of this to the test. I was reminded, both as writer and person, how much we take for granted. I also became reminded of the value of people, and the choices involved in being there – or not – in a time of trouble.

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