Saturday, January 8, 2011

Decisions, Decisions

One year ago, I wrote an article for More magazine’s online edition about reinventing yourself.  You can read it here:


It may not go down as the best example of my writing, but it talks about a theme I keep revisiting and observing in my life and in others.  Deciding.

As writers, we are watchers.  We observer people and events and maybe, just maybe, they become the seed of our next story or character.  I am a character-focused author or maybe plot-focused.  It’s so hard to tell.  My writing mentor, Barbara Rogan, explained in one of her online classes, and I paraphrase, (any errors are my misinterpretations), that each scene puts characters in a position to make a decision, big or small, and that each decision changes the character and direction of the plot.

I watch people every day.  I see their actions and decisions, sometimes better than they do because I’m looking for them.  I wonder what they are thinking and why they are doing what they are doing.  Do they appreciate that even a seemingly small decision, picking up the dry cleaning now instead of later, has a ripple effect?  Have you ever made a last minute decision to stop for a coffee for the road, then after crawling along in traffic you pass a messy accident and wonder what-if? 

In the opening scenes of my paranormal manuscript, my main character, Micaela decides to use metaphysical gifts she has suppressed to help find a missing friend.  She really has no choice, since she already blames herself for the death of her parents because of what she did not do or say.  But this new decision opens a door she cannot easily close and draws the attention of ‘others’.  Events continue to require decisions that she must make, even if the decision is to run, and each is a step along a path.

What decisions do your characters make and how does it drive the story? 

As for me, I must decide everyday to keep focused on my goals.  Like our plots it is often easy to go off on tangents, to try to hijack our stories.  It may be the job or it may be the latest rejection letter from an agent or editor, the dreaded writer’s block.  How I react to feedback (this includes rejection) is a decision.  I can dismiss it, rail against it, or look for the learning.  I choose to look.  This is no easy feat, especially if I’ve also had the day from hell at work, but I give it it’s moment, take a deep breath and work to move forward.

New Year’s Resolutions are just decision.  This blog was a New Year’s Resolution.  The question is: how committed are we to those decisions?  What decisions have you made and how do you stick to them?  How do you know if you have REALLY made the decision?