Good morning, it’s Thursday, and that means I’m going to post a throwback from my earlier posts. Essentially a re-post of an old archived post with new notes and observations.
Anything added(except grammar and spelling corrections) are marked in green within the original Post’s text.
The next post I’m going to revisit is Where Did It Go? . Originally posted on . The reason I’m revisiting is that we all need to be reminded of items that disappear.
Where did it go?
I have found myself stumped more than once while on my writing journey. A stumper of a moment that stands out the most is the loss of a prominent object. Where did it go?
In chapter two, I introduce a characters vice, an object she carries with her always. Let’s say it’s a pocket knife, her security blanket, and foreshadow for other conversations. All of a sudden, I realized two chapters later that the knife disappeared without my authorization and was completely forgotten. Oops.
I need to write it back in, but now the story has progressed without it and I prefer that it’s gone. It was awkward and held her back. What to do, what to do? Write it out? Change the story? I thought about it and realized it needs to stay, but clearly not for long. Then it struck me, kill the knife off like a beloved, but useless character. This could be fun.
I went back with a sly grin on my face, made a point to have another character to remove it from her presence subtly. Later he presents it to her in a humorous way, both embarrassing her and making her realize just how useless it is and that she needed to let it go. By doing this I killed off the object, that started with meaning, but it’s purpose petered out. An added bonus is that it was a great way to kick-start her character development. Her journey to be less dependent on others and things now out of the gates, her race has just begun. Thanks to the ‘security blanket’ knife being let go, it also symbolized her leaving her old self behind as she leaves it behind as well.
Objects can be as simple as a cup of coffee, or as complicated as a pet. Whatever the case may be the item must be interacted with or discarded tactfully. Here are some items I notice that often go missing by lack of writing the item consistently.
Briefcase, book, papers or envelopes
The point is to notice these magic act items have disappeared and evaluate their worth. Were they there to enhance the character or provide an unnecessary action tag? Do they show a flaw or quirk in character or is it mundane? What I mean is you can’t have someone nursing a cup of joe as if it’s a life-giving device then have them run off to chase something. Where did the coffee go? Make sure to tie it up and set it down or have it spill and the character curse about the hot coffee or the loss of the precious drink. Either way, if you add an interactive item don’t let it vanish.
If it’s a meal that they are participating in, it doesn’t need to be a play by play of every bite savored for its perfection or despised for it’s cheap lackluster. The easiest way to conclude a meal is to have them set their fork and knife down. How they do that can be indicative of the character and emotions. If there are no emotions, say to slam the fork down, toss it nonchalantly or stab the other person, then maybe check to see if that eating scene is important to the story or the character. The same goes for gum or cigarettes, do they dispose of the waste respectfully or do they stick the gum under a table or toss the cigarette butt in someone’s face? I try not to have an object interacted with, be of no use to the story. Use the item, I try not to have a character treat an item the way I would. It is a great way to show emotion or intention.
Opportunity can knock in the most unexpected ways. A forgotten object remembered, can shift the story or characters development in a tangible way. She didn’t ever need the knife, just some confidence and a dose of reality. That I was able to make it more important to her growth as a person, while removing it from the story, was an amazing and unexpected outcome.
My advice about being stumped.
Look at the problem from another point of view, perhaps your plan or direction isn’t the only possible outcome. Have some fun with objects that have no real purpose. Give them a purpose and let them show a characters emotional state, bad habits or intent.
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