When writing a new novel, I always wrestle with the what if. These what ifs, I get to create in my imagination and they should be dark, because after all, they are fiction. What I create doesn’t happen to a real person. But I struggle creating anything truly hard because I want my character to succeed.
My newest story is based on the immigrant experience of my mother’s grandparents. Or at least how I imagine it so it fits into a story 🙂 They came from Syria at the beginning of the 1900’s. The what if that brought my family to America is: What if I left my country for new opportunities that would enrich my life and the life of my family when I returned home.
That story sounds hopeful, full of adventure, it feels bright and cheery even with obstacles.
But, the Syrian refugees in our present day have such a different what if: What if I leave my homeland to stay safe but find no one will take me in.
That story will be one of loss, grief, tragedy. Dark, dismal but full of the most change.
The challenge of any writer is to not make anything easy for our characters because if it were easy, there wouldn’t be a story. Change only happens when the characters face their fears, acknowledge what they want, find out how wrong they see the world, and what will motivate them to change. The what if, is only the start.
The challenge of any writer is to not make anything easy for our characters because if it were easy, there wouldn’t be a story.
This is the challenge I accepted when I set out to write this new story and I am struggling because it is in the dark, loss heavy tragedies that the most change happens. I want the bright, cheery adventure story but those endings aren’t as satisfying. It is when a person struggles with obstacle after obstacle, some they have placed and some the world placed for them, that the happily ever after feels most sweet.
And maybe, just maybe, writing this story will help me see my own what if that will help me change my life.
Leave a Reply