Hibernation and Backwards Thinking

I spent the weekend revising a short story. Unlike the book Gary blogged about last week, this story’s been waiting a while for me to finish thinking about the critiques–nearly a year and a half. I like to think of it as hibernation. Every now and then, I’d creep into the story cave and poke it with a stick to see if it was waking up yet. Last week, it opened a bleary eye, so I fed it lots of berries and honey, and sent it off into the forest.

That metaphor’s just a bit stretched, but it’s a more attractive image than a writer chewing their cud.

Anyway, the story got me thinking about plot and characters. The big issue I’ve been trying to figure out with this story is character motivation. A lot of plotting advice says to figure out what kind of person your character is, and then see what she does. But in this case, I know what happens in the story. I had to figure out what happened before the story opened to make the characters into the kinds of people who would perform the plot. It’s a bit backwards from what I often see touted as the “right” way of doing things, but it seems to be how my brain works.



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