Erin Lausten

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We’re in a relationship – Surprise!

Posted by erinlausten on September 5, 2013

Writing is about relationships.

Ultimately the biggest relationship is established between the story and the reader. However, beyond that there are relationships between the narrator and the characters, characters with other characters, the characters with their situations and the characters with their environment. Each of these aspects creates a unique perspective. For the author, the challenge comes in presenting these perspectives effectively in unique and authentic voices.

People are people. And there are so many different kinds of people. An author is only one person, with their own personality, worldview and perspective. Some of the greatest stories present that perspective in an engaging and dynamic voice. This drives the reader to absorb the story and experience as something new and fabulous.

But within a story, an author must also present perspectives that may not be their own, as illustrated by their various characters. The most talented writers can create characters with vastly different perspectives that build a story arc which is both believable and fascinating. We want authenticity in our stories, and authenticity relies on a world that mimics our own. No one person sees the world exactly the same.

So how does the writer do it? Not without some serious work.

It is easy for all of us to become insolated. It is more comfortable to surround ourselves with like-minded people. We strengthen our confidence in our own worldview by accepting those things we like and disregarding those we do not. We watch the news we like, read the websites that justify our feelings, and discuss politics with others in our political party.

Things get interesting when we break beyond the safety of our perspective and seek out those that think differently or even directly contradict our ideas. Even more difficult is stepping away from what we know and believe to try to understand the thoughts and worldview of another in a way that is objective and not qualitative. The question is not to see if the person is right, but to be able to see how that person may react to any given situation.

When an author can create a unique personality with opinions, belief, history and experience so vastly different from themselves, it is an amazing feat. It is one that I strive for with varying degrees of success.

So, why is this on my mind today?

I have gone beyond my comfort zone in my latest manuscript and I have learned so much. In general I have limited my characters with control over the story’s perspectives. In the Viator novels, I have had two characters with points of view that the reader is privy to. In other stories, I have limited it to one. But in the latest Cibola novel, I have five active points of view. Is it overkill? Possibly. But I have been able to explore the motivations, philosophies, needs and desires of five extremely different personalities. Some are dark while others are optimistic. Some navigate the world with morals that leave me uncomfortable and others have personal challenges I do not have myself.

As I draw near the completion of the first draft, I am struck by how vivid the relationships between these characters have become. I have seen growth and challenges I could not have seen otherwise. They have taught me so much and I find I am looking forward to the end, when I can step away for a while, then return to look on these fascinating people with a new eye.

This is why I write. This is the magic of stories. How fabulous.

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2 Responses to “We’re in a relationship – Surprise!”

  1. It’s astonishing, the way our characters seem to take on a life of their own, isn’t it?

    • It is one of my favorite aspects of writing. I am also learning new things about myself, where my mind will go when faced with certain situations and dilemmas. Lately I have pushing myself to face concepts and ideas I am not as comfortable with and it is bring new things to light, and I believe, new roads for my writing to take. It will be interesting to see the final product and the response I receive from readers.

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