We all live in change and it can be both a good and bad thing. For example, my daughter is off to University this week. Yes, I capitalized “University” on purpose to emphasize what a big change it will be both for her and for me. It wouldn’t be such a big deal if she was going to school here, but she isn’t. She is going to a school that is a few hours away (it could be worse). This will be the first time she is away from home and, while I know it will be a great experience for her, it will leave a big gap in the house for me.
I know. Boo hoo, right?
But why am I talking about change anyway? Is this going to be one of those cathartic posts meant to make me feel better?
Actually, no. I think I can talk about change in respect to writing in two different ways. The first, and perhaps most relevant reference to change and writing for me, right now, is that, no matter how overwhelmed or stressed about writing and podcasting (and promotion) projects I am, they will eventually be finished and I can take a breather. That is pretty important to remember because, it can be easy to let yourself get lost in the projects. Sometimes the only way to keep or find your sanity is to remind yourself of the light at the end of the many tunnels.
So what is the second way change can be part of your writing life? Well, how about in the stories you tell? Almost always the story stems from some catalyst or change. Perhaps the starship crew discovers the remains of a crashed ship on a remote planet and decides to investigate. That is a change of routine. Maybe while exploring the hulk, one of the crew is attacked by a creature. I would call that a change of routine too. Perhaps even a change of alive versus dead for the attackee.
Or maybe, like in my book, the character watches a movie and decides on a change of path for his life. In these examples, the change invokes a change of events and therein can lie the story.
Is that good? Not necessarily for the character. If the events are interesting enough though, it can be a great thing for the reader. It is this that takes a story idea (i.e. starship finds a crashed derelict on a remote world) and gives it some really interesting scenes and plot points and character development that make the story great.
Take another example: a train derails killing everyone on board. Everyone, but one single person. That person wakes up in Emergency without so much as a scratch on him. This leads to a number of changes that throws this man’s life into a completely different direction (gee, you think?). It is the events triggered by his change-of-state that really makes the story.
Bonus points to those of you who know what movies I’ve taken the examples from.
The challenge becomes deciding on what changes need to take place for the story to happen. For example, in my book, the decision is to become a super hero. If my character hadn’t actually acted on that decision, nothing would have changed and there wouldn’t be a story. Instead, the main character, Mik, begins by trying to get super-powers. Then he tries to build a costume and weapons. Then a “Fortress of Solitude”. Each time, he is changing something about the way he views things, does things and the environment around him. He (hopefully) learns things along the way that are interesting.
That is how change took an idea and made it into a story.
So, my challenge to you is: get out there and be an agent of change.