Alright, so I’ve got my characters under control and I’ve flogged them a bit. As the story goes along, they slowly become less like the characters from a book and more like people. People have flaws, people have unfulfilled desires, people often do things that they know will hurt themselves. People aren’t perfect. Lesson learned. But what now? Now I have to learn the next lesson and that lesson is the answer to a question: Why are my characters important? They’ve got an entire book devoted to them, so they must have done something that matters. Are my characters just goofing around doing nothing worth thinking about or are they the central figures in an intergalactic war? I had to find the aspect of the story that made my characters worthy of being the main characters of their own story. Perhaps it’s a story about personal growth, with no far-reaching implications. Perhaps it’s a story about how two kids from Earth end a war that’s put the entire galaxy at risk. Why is anyone reading their story?
At last I find the answer to that question. My characters are important because they do something important. They get sucked into a brewing war and must somehow come through all these trials alive. So, not only did I learn that my characters needed a few flaws and a few trials along the way, they also needed to do something worth taking note of. Now my characters have personality, now my characters have purpose. The story I’m writing expands beyond a simple adventure and becomes something more. The original idea was for a book that might have been, at most, 30k words. About 120 pages. The first book in the series clocked in at 75k words.
Suddenly I had something real in my hands, not just a little piece of fluff that I could pat myself on the back for having written, but an actual novel with a story, twists and turns along the way, that was building towards something even bigger. It was in that moment that my limitations began to fall away and my horizons expanded. It didn’t just have to be for me, it didn’t just have to be a pastime to fiddle with when there wasn’t anything else to do. I was working on my future.
But there was still one more lesson to learn and it was going to be the toughest so far.