Please Kill Me,
Most of my stories focus on characters over plot. It’s a habit that I’ve picked up from some of my favorite authors—along with being the most entertaining way to navigate a narrative. Due to this, I tend not to have many opinions on the ‘sanctity of an outline’ or overly-technical details that do nothing but bog down character development.
Don’t get me wrong. There a million ways to sheer this sheep. I’m just speaking on what works for me. Perhaps, for you.
My approach involves some uneasy days/weeks/months of thought before I’m ready to tackle the first line. In a sense, it’s sort of a mental outline. However, I’m rarely committed to any directive that I write down. More often than not, writing down the directive assures that I’ll abandon it. It’s usually the first idea and the first ideas usually blow hot tuna (#Don’tPictureIt).
Instead, I plan, plot, and picture mentally beforehand. For those of you a little lost, my mind is like a bakery: Something’s always raw. Something’s normally ready. Something’s always cooking. The ideas are sugar-cookies in a baker’s dozen. Development is perpetual, rabid, and parallel. I lose about half of them in the process.
Because of my preference, I usually wind up on Google, researching various mental states and motivations. Most recently, I’ve been toying with the idea of ‘happiness,’ as a concept. No. I don’t plan to write some drumroll story of overcoming to achieve. Neither do I plan on lambasting the idea of being happy (both have been done. Well and horrid).
Rather, my focus has been on interrogating the concept altogether. What is happiness? Where does it come from? What does it do? Is it inherently good? (All I know for sure is that the answer to the last one is NO.)
Then came the next idea and I moved on. However, the idea baked and cooked and baked some more. While writing the previous post, it occurred to me. Happiness is relative. Seems obvious but I’m a cynical Fuch. It was enlightening to me.
I was considering the concept wrong. Because happiness is different for everyone, it can’t be any particular mental state but many, scattered across a variety of conditions.
Someone who was always rich, won’t be ‘happy’ finding a nickel.
Someone who has always eaten well, won’t swoon over a bowl of rice.
A priest won’t sh!t himself over a prayer.
The things we have don’t give us joy. It’s the intermittent (and often scarce) experiences that capture our emotion. Even then, it’s different for everyone. The next step is to place that idea into a character and set them lose in a world that they’ll imminently clash with.
Damn, I love the process.
Until Next Time,
– Antwan Crump