The vacation didn’t keep me from writing. It was the horrendous head cold/cough I caught the day I left for the vacation. Though I didn’t write because I was sick, because I was sick I was forced to abandon my laptop and look out over the most majestic greens and blues of the ocean I could ever imagine.
Having a bad cold in Paradise, is much, much better than having a bad cold at home.
On the airplane ride down, I sketched a diagram of the relationships between my characters. During this process, I realized that one of the character’s I’ve felt a lot of sympathy for, Devi, did something really bad in the past. And then I understood WHY Devi did something really bad. Then suddenly I saw Devi as this multi-layered human being with a history. She went from my black ink scratches on the inside of a paperback book, to a three-dimensional character that could be someone I’d know in real life. I also realized that through she’s a relatively minor character in the book, she’s essential to my plot.
This process of understanding Devi is a turning point for me in writing fiction. Here’s why:
When I write creative nonfiction or narrative nonfiction (personal essays, memoir, etc.), the essential truths of who people are, are already in front of me. Perspective may give me a new or unique understanding of these essential truths, but eventually they manifest themselves.
What I find so difficult in fiction, is coming up with a truth about a character that is authentic and sincere. Fiction may grant the license to make things up, but I have to make things up in a way that convinces the reader of the truth. I find this to be a nearly impossible task.
But on the plane ride down, one seemingly minor character developed completely in my head.
I think I may be getting somewhere after all.