So Much Stuff I Can't Recall

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Sometimes I Amaze Even Myself*

As I mentioned over at the NaNo Blog, my characters have been using their backstory information to develop themselves as I write. In the example I gave over at the other blog, my revivalist has a prison record, mainly so I didn't have to go into detail on where he'd been for the past 15 years (in jail for DUI and killing a police dog pretty much covers it; movin' on). But when he was confronted by a bully in last night's writing session, his prison survival skills kicked in. It was pretty wild watching it happen as I wrote. He reaches for his coat, observing that the metal tip of the coat hanger hook would make a nice gouging weapon (I'd say 'shiv' but the story doesn't take place in a b&w 50's B-movie, plus 'gouging' has nice resonance, don't you think?).

The bartender's scar has popped up in several other characters' scenes. It will pop up again in a scene I'm writing tonight or tomorrow when the revivalist meets her (he doesn't look at the scar at all and she winds up buying a round of drinks for her patrons after he leaves).

My favorite instance of this happening took place last week when I dove into my bookstore owning ex-priest's backstory. In the present-day story he offers literacy classes (possibly some tutoring too, but I didn't get into that). So was that something he did when he was still a priest? Something told me yes, and that that had something to do with why he left the priesthood. Well, why would he leave the priesthood over that? Well, what if his students were getting into secular books (Harlequin Romances, Stephen King, etc.) that the other parishoners didn't approve of. Yeah, that could lead to conflict (Catholic conflict? I'm not so sure, but it works for now). So he leaves after a blow-up with his parishoners and maybe even the next step or two up the hierarchy (it'd be helpful to know what that hierarchy is before publication, but for now generic hierarchy works for me). Okay, so we know why he quits, but why'd he get into literacy classes in the first place?

Well, what do I know about Catholics.

In the books on writing that I've read in order to forestall actually writing anything, they say this kind of thing will happen. When you read about it happening to someone else you kind of think, "Yeah, right. It's a coincidence or wishful thinking or whatever."

Now that it's happened (and continues to happen) to me, it doesn't feel like coincidence at all. Where do those moments come from? I don't think it's coincidence, because it feels like they were there all along just waiting to be found. Providence feels more like it, although I don't think God scheduled Vatican II for the sole purpose of providing me with a character development point. Nevertheless, I thank God for working it out that way and for including details like that in my scant knowledge of Catholicism.

And Thanksgiving happens this week and I'm actually thankful for something. Coincidence? Hmmmmm....

*To which Princess Leia responds: "That doesn't sound too hard."


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