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Monday, September 14, 2015

Writing My Character's Future Life

Photo: Nadya Phillips, Venice 2015
In writing a novel or story a writer gives lots of thought to what happened to the main character before she or he arrived at the beginning of the tale, but have we considered where she goes after the ending? If you're contemplating a sequel or a series, it's a natural question. But how to begin to answer?

J.K. Rowling planned not only her characters' arcs, but their futures beyond the books. The mechanics of plotting are important in devising a good story, but what's most important is where your character's heart has led her at the conclusion of her initial story. Where she wants to go may not always please the author.

Whether or not the character's organic journey yields another piece of fiction isn't up to the author, unless you're letting the plot lead--in which case, more power to you! You'll probably sell a lot of books. But for me, the character's organic self-development is most interesting. What are her aspirations and fears?

I want my character to lead me into strange new territory even if it doesn't lend itself to fiction. I want her to feel the truth of her way forward, much the way I feel my own future: intuitively, letting it cohere until I sense a direction and understand the consequences -- or am too compelled to keep from making growth-producing mistakes.

So it's back to contemplating my character's future before I finish the novel. For my work-in-progress, THE RENAISSANCE CLUB, I've probably overdone the backstory-forestory research, as I wrote an entire two-act play about my characters, only half of which is contained in this book. Stay tuned for a possible sequel or even series. Depending on what my main character feels after she marries
her muse in Italy.