Meetings meetings…

Meetings meetings everywhere. Meeting of the Asian Artists' Collective last night, followed by meeting of the visual arts branch of the group -- I went along to that part mostly for the yummy Korean food. Mmmm...I don't know what I ate, but it was awfully good. And involved fire at the table, always a plus.

Working on the new short story this morning, the last one to go into the collection (hopefully :-). I'm at the point where I have all the dates and such; I know when people were born and married and had children and so on (which is a pretty complicated thing at this point in the book). I also know the major historical events and the major family events that I want to write about...what's left is to figure out the actual story arc. Is this a tragedy, or a drama with possible hope? Do I start in the beginning, the middle, at the end? How far back do I want to go in their lives, and how far forward? For every one of these stories, one could theoretically write a novel about each character -- so the art of the short story becomes a matter of picking and choosing. How does the series of events and actions I select illustrate character?

In fact, at the moment, everything I have happening just happens *to* my main character. So what I need to figure out is how he would have acted in this situation. Could he do anything to affect the actions of those around him? I could write a story in which he's simply a helpless pawn -- and with a war story, that's probably far more common than not. But even when you're living in a world where terrible things are constantly being done to you, I think there has to be a character story there in exploring how you respond to that. Even if your response is basically to curl up in a ball with your hands over your eyes, just waiting for it to all go away...

2 thoughts on “Meetings meetings…”

  1. Absolutely – the standard idea is that people in crisis become more like themselves. More funny if you’re a comedian. More analytic if that’s your forte. We all try doing the things that have worked for us in the past. I’m not sure if that’s as true of long-term trauma, which I think has to have an impact on our ability to trust, hope… Well, I watched the Pianist a few weeks ago, so I was reminded of that.

  2. it is also not uncommon that extreme situations, like a war, bring out sides of people otherwise unseen. It might be interesting to see a contrast between “small” events and the bigger war. On a smaller scale we’re at war at the moment, yet life goes on, punctuated by reminders from time to time. World War II was a bit closer to home if your characters are in England during it – a bit more distant if they are here in the U.S.A. but life still went on, people met, fell in love, fell out of love, fought, bickered, and made up. The sun still shone high in the sky, occasionally (I’m sure) beautiful flowers were still seen in the ground.

    I’m a writer of the school of “start writing and see what happens” but I do think that the most telling and interesting stories about people during war are rarely about the war itself, but rather are still about the people – just tinged by the war raging around them.

    Shannon

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