Think of a number.
Now multiply that number by two.
Now add ten to your total.
Now divide that total by two.
And finally, subtract the first number you thought of from your current total.
Using the immense magical power I can wield through the connections of the internet I can divine that you have been left with …………………. 5!
Yes, yes, I will be willing to sign autographs but I’m sorry that I won’t be able to just perform further feats of amazing mind reading.
It sounds good doesn’t it? Of course, whatever number you start with in this chain will deliver the same result and that’s the point. The first question is offering you a choice, giving you the chance to start a situation from wherever you want without the other side being able to influence you in any way.
Regardless of what choice you make, you’re going to end up in the same place.
This is something that I’ve had to have in mind when I’m putting the stories together.
I have an idea where I want to go in the narrative, drawing a loose map of the route I’m going to follow to arrive at the final destination, but I have to always make sure that I’m not slavishly forcing characters and situations into the wrong size boxes just to make sure I end up where I first thought.
I have found myself needing to dive back into what I’ve put together either in the planning stage or in the draft of the book to amend details because the characters need to be doing the opposite to be able to maintain who they are. If you imagine any of the characters from your favourite books suddenly doing something which is completely out of character just to advance the story, it drags you out of the story and you don’t believe what’s going on. I certainly feel that way if I come across this.
So what are the choices I make when I write?
I need to decide who says and does what. Where things happen and why.
So I have the ultimate power over all of the detail of the narrative. I can make everyone and anyone dance to my will. Can’t I?
I can make any choice but the rules surrounding who I’m working on are always there. My choices are curtailed each and every word as I write. I have to make sure that I keep control of what I’m saying to keep the word train on the tracks. My choices are things that have to be controlled.
And that’s the way for all of us.
We have choices offered to us all the time. The easy ones like what channel to watch on the TV all the way through the best and worst ends of the spectrum. And it’s these choices that keep the narratives out there interesting. Will the hero cut the red or blue wire? Will the child chose to open the door? Will the killer turn left or right? As a reader of the books out there, we all wonder over these things as they unfold. We are dragged into the tension and we can enjoy what’s going on but only if we believe the choices being made are consistent.
So, all in all, we all have every choice open to us but we all function within a framework which will draw us in certain direction. I just have to make sure that all the characters I make up do the same thing.
It’s not easy.
And I chose to do it!!!!