Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Need For Self Restraint

My book, Recompense, is going to be slightly longer than I had planned. Just slightly longer. Just means that I have to put in more late nights, I suppose.

I wrote another scene last night, one that isn't, in the strictest sense, required by the plot. Although it does tie in with something later that is plot critical. Yet I think it adds a valuable piece of texture to the world and also fleshes out the main characters.

Mark Twain, during an article where he disembowels a book he emphatically did not enjoy, described one of his problems with it by saying an author is supposed to make the reader love the good people and hate the bad ones. But in the book he was criticizing, the reader hates the good people, is indifferent toward the bad ones, and wishes they would all get drowned together.

I interpret this to mean that the reader is supposed to identify with the protagonist and want them to succeed, because they see themselves walking in the protagonist's shoes. But none of us lack flaws. It comes back to making both the protagonists and the villains human. The hero and heroine need to face internal challenges and prove their mettle. Or fail to prove it, and thereby show that they, too, are mortal.

In this latest scene, one of the protagonists does something with honorable intentions. In fact, with the intention of saving the life of a beloved friend. Yet the action, if the friend learned of it, would cause the friend to recoil in revulsion, and might even end their friendship. The action also has the potential, in fact the near certainty, of causing serious consequences later on. 'The road to hell in paved with good intentions,' etc.

But it was a cleft stick situation. Not taking the action would have meant letting something else happen. Something that would have been, in the opinion of the protagonist, even worse. A major moral quandary. Just like we all face sometimes.

And now that I think about it, I can see how it will have a major effect on the plot after all. Not the plot in Recompense. The plot in the next book after this series is done. One rock can start an avalanche.