Make Up Your Mind

Once again on Monday morning I can't decide what to talk about. Only today instead of having to reach for a topic, three or four keep raising their hands, pushing the others out of the way, and yelling, "Pick me! Pick me!"

So I decided to write about making choices.

It's rarely easy.

I'm not going anywhere near real life choices here. Writing choices are hard enough.

They start the moment we begin thinking about a project. You know that time. An idea pops into your head. It grows a little bit. A little more. Pretty soon you notice it hopping on one foot and turning somersaults.

Then you think a little bit about it. If I go with this what comes next? What's that character really like? What's her name? What does she do when her world falls apart? What if?

Yikes. In ten seconds you have five choices to make. And that's only the beginning.

They don't stop.

On the last editing pass . . . you're so close to finishing you can taste it. The last chapter . . . last page. Your palms are sweaty. Almost done. For real.

Uh-oh. What's this?

Why did she say that? That's really stupid. She should've said this. Or, no. This is even better. Which one would she say?



M. Gray said…
I love the topic of choices. It's a huge theme I've explored in both of my books. I get so tired to books and movies focusing on fate instead of choice. I believe in choice. We make our own lives. I believe in God, but I also believe God helps people who help themselves. :)
Mason Canyon said…
Choices, sometimes I'm not very good with them. I tend to rethink my choices too much.
Aubrie said…
Usually my second or third choice is better than my first, so I always have to ask what if? Great post!
Carol Kilgore said…
M.Gray - I'm with you.

Mason - I try to make the best choice I can at the time with the information I have available. Two minutes later it might prove to be the wrong one, but given what I knew at that moment, I know it's the best one I could make. That's all any of us can do. IMO.

Aubrie - Thanks. I try to think outside the box. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes not. I love What If's.
When we make choices, we limit the options available to the characters, making things that much harder for them, forcing them to dig deep.
Do I have empathy with you today, Carol--I'm working on brainstorming my new w.i.p. Choices, choices--aargh!
Choices are tough - especially when you like all the options. I find, to my horror, that I've made the wrong choice only when correcting it is going to take hours of work. It's funny how many times what seems like a good idea at first will later strike you as inordinately stupid.
Joanne said…
I love "what-ifs" in my characters' lives. It puts them on the spot and helps me get to know them better by the choice they make. And it's that choice which often propels the story.
Helen Ginger said…
I do believe that even when the printed book is in my hands, I would find something that I'd like to change. Which explains why I don't go back and read them once they're published.

Straight From Hel
Elana Johnson said…
This is why revising and editing is never done!!! Stupid choices... :)
Carol Kilgore said…
Stephen - The more we can narrow those options, the more tension the story has.

Conda - I know that feeling well.

Elspeth - I know that feeling, too. I haven't reached that point yet in my WIP. But I know exactly where it is. And I'm wondering what in the world my critique partners will say when they read it.

Joanne - Oh yeah. If their choice doesn't propel the story forward, it's the wrong one for sure.

Helen - Exactly.

Elana - Isn't that the truth. I make myself stop after a while. Usually when I'm ready to beat the characters with a stick.
Once again you nailed a writing predicament that every author faces!
Maryann Miller said…
I love playing the "what if" game with my characters. And after a while the choices start leading in one direction over all the others and that is where the story probably needs to go.
Carol Kilgore said…
Jane - It never ends.

Maryann - I agree, to a point. Sometimes if you let it sit, it moves in a different direction. But not always.
Laura Eno said…
My first choice is often the best one, but then I start to second guess myself. :)
KarenG said…
LIfe is so wonderful! I love choices! And decisions! Can you tell I don't like being told what to do lol?
Carol Kilgore said…
Laura - Sometimes I hit the best one first, sometimes not. I get a little spark when I know I have the right one. If it comes first, I'll still think of more, but if I don't get that spark, I'll go back to the first one.

Karen - I'm so laughing. Can you tell I relate to that?
Angela said…
In movies, I often want to shout at people when they take stupid choices! But in books I usually just follow, maybe because I have time to think. This MAY be a difficult choice, but perhaps life will take a turn? Or the character will start thinking? I can also go back in the book and see where it all started - yes, I like choices, too. And like Karen, I don`t want to get TOLD what to do!
Carol Kilgore said…
And another soul is added to the Don't Tell Me What To Do Club.
Jacqueline Vick said…
Ahhhh, choices. There are always too many, which is much nicer than having none at all!
Carol Kilgore said…
Oh, I totally agree on that one!