The evolution of Larger than Life

I realized the other day that my current novel-in-progress, Larger than Life, has taken a complete turn around in its character development. I was amazed at this, thinking as I had at the start that I knew what I was doing. My protagonist changes a bit through the story, of course. Essentially what I thought would happen (what he thought would happen) was that if he could achieve A, and then he would get to have B. A would be the means to the end B. What I’ve found, however, is that if he would simply pursue B directly, he will get to have A as a consequence. What I had thought was his means turns out to be his end.

That’s a major flip in my understanding of the character, but it’s an important one. Fortunately, it doesn’t change the plot at all. The same events transpire in the same sequence, but how my silly protagonist understands and applies the lessons he learns are different.

This realization came to me from reading other novels that deal in the same subject matter as what I’m trying to write. I can’t really say that I’m writing in a specific genre; it’s more the nature of the struggle the protagonist must deal with that can be part of what has a small but growing representation in fiction. I’m sorry that I have to be vague (whether tantalizing or annoying), but some of the earliest writing advice I ever received was that you should tell your story only once and that should be in writing.

Rather than be startled by my recent “revelation” I am pleased. It shows me that my story idea has vitality. (At the early stages of most of my fiction endeavors I have to overcome the notion that the idea just isn’t any good and not worth devoting any time to. Sometimes that notion wins; sometimes not.) It gives me a character of greater depth and realism, one who will be more engaging and satisfying to write, which is always a plus when you endeavor on a novel-length work, n’est-ce pas?

I’ll add that when I embarked on The Sleep of Reason, I had no sense of the really inevitable ending it now has. That sooper-dooper ending came to me about two-thirds of the way through the writing of the first draft (and it was why I had to rewrite the entire novel with a third-person narrator after already doing it one time with a first-person narrator). I certainly set out on that work thinking I knew where I would take it, but the idea evolved — or matured — as I worked on it. The same with Larger than Life. I guess this is how it works for those writers who claim that they don’t always have their end in sight when they begin writing their stories. That’s not how I could work, but I suppose I can see how it might work that way for others if their stories evolve just from working on them, as mine have lately.

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One Comment on “The evolution of Larger than Life

  1. J.M. Reep Says:

    It’s fun when that happens: when a plot or a character goes off in an unexpected direction. An author thinks he’s in control of the story, but in a lot of ways he isn’t. All you can do is follow along, just sit back and enjoy the ride.

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