Thursday, April 02, 2009

The Why's of It

Remember in school when you had to read a classic novel then dissect it, looking for the hidden meaning behind words and what the author was really trying to say? Remember spending unending, torturous hours figuring out the significance of the river in Huckleberry Finn? Or the symbolism in "Hamlet?" Even my beloved Steinbeck was turned into a sadistic lesson about the greater meaning behind Lenny and George's relationship in "Of Mice and Men." And always I would ask my teachers if these themes were intentional by the authors. And they would answer probably not. I didn't get that. Until now.

One issue I'm having with my current heroine is her flaws. They aren't readily obvious. Usually I have a pretty good idea what is going on with my characters from the get go. My last heroine had a serious responsibility issue and of course she was confronted with a situation where she was ultimately the responsible one. It was fairly simple to write around such an obvious flaw. But this chick is different. I know she's flawed, I know she has some huge issues, but darned if I can push them right out there and write to it. But the subconscious is so clever.

An early scene takes place in the heroine's kitchen. I usually don't spend much time describing a room unless there is significance. I'll mention the furniture, maybe the color, but unless it has a point, I don't waste my time. However, I went into detail with this room. The room is...perfect. It looks like a photo spread from a shabby chic catalog. Later another scene takes place in her cottage-styled family room and again I take time to describe the details. In the same scene, the room is destroyed. So her beautiful, perfect room is ruined, ripped away as it were. Hmmm...maybe I should take a look at that.

My secondary characters have helped as well, criticizing the rooms as being fussy and not her style. She of course vehemently argues her point, but apparently doesn't know herself very well. A flaw in and of itself. But I can tell there is something deeper going on. I have an inkling as to what it is, but I'm willing to let my instincts go and see where it takes me. They are so much more reliable than my brain sometimes.

Do you have those head scratching moments when you write only to have the light bulb go off later down the line? Or do you place intentional symbols in your stories?

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