Can You Hear Me Now? Relative Karma Goes Audio. Part 4 of a 10-Part Countdown.

Posted: March 3, 2015 in Relative Karma Goes Audio
Tags: , , , , , ,

countdown4

As we inch closer to the release of Relative Karma on audio, I want to talk about something that most non-writers don’t understand. Well, to be perfectly honest, most writers don’t understand it either, but it is something we come to trust, to believe will happen if we show up, put our ass in the chair, click our heels together three times…oh wait, that’s something else.

scarecrow

I’m talking about those mysterious moments during the writing of a project where things happen on which the writer did not plan. But it’s really bigger than that—every writer worth his or her salt follows the characters where they lead, listens when they speak, and writes it all down. Often times we are surprised by our characters’ bursts of dialogue. This is more or less the normal course of things for a writer, even when the story is outlined ahead of time. Unanticipated events occur and we smile, knowing the muse is singing and all is right with the world.

But what I really want to focus on is the pure, out-of-left-field happenstance that hugely affects a story and sends it off in an unforeseen direction.

In the case of Relative Karma, it was the loveable character Daniel. I don’t know where he came from, I honestly don’t. He literally showed up on the page (or on the street) as Jeff Vincent was walking from his apartment to Starbucks. Like so:

An hour and a half later I was walking south on Fifteenth toward K Street.The morning air had a snap to it and I noticed the homeless were beginning to sport their fall wardrobes; ragged scarves and soup-stained sweaters were all the rage this season. One poor bastard at the corner of Fifteenth and H was so shabby and filthy he looked more like a caricature of a bum than an actual homeless person. The dirt on his face looked applied; he was wearing honest-to-God fingerless mittens, and his “will work for food” sign—which carried a great deal of information regarding his plight—was so full of misspellings it had to be intentional. I stopped in front of him.

Boom. New character. And no garden-variety extra, either.

I had one job: get Jeff out of his apartment and a few blocks over to Starbucks to meet the femme fatale who may or may not be his undoing. And what does Jeff do during his walk? He starts looking around, sort of like any normal person would do, and he sees this homeless guy and…

And suddenly this homeless guy is telling Jeff his name. And (what’s going on here???) we start to like this guy. Jeff likes him, too, and offers to buy him a cup of coffee. The point to understand here is that I saw Daniel completely when he showed up on my screen. I heard him speak and fell in love with him. Instantly.

I suppose this kind of thing happens all the time with bit players and spear carriers. But it’s not quite as common with major characters. At least not with me.

How does this happen?

I can only go back to Stephen King’s theory of where stories come from, that they are found things (see On Writing). A story (I’m paraphrasing Mr. King) is something that exists somewhere in the ether as a complete entity. All we have to do as writers is find it (or it finds us) and write it down. King likens it to a fossil, mostly buried but with a tiny bit poking through the surface. We notice it—my, what an interesting little shard of rock that is—and begin our work, chiseling gently to uncover the whole. Sometimes we get a lot, sometime only a little. Our skill and a good deal of luck determine just how much we unearth.
I like this idea. It makes sense. And it helps explain the inexplicable.

It also makes one believe in serendipity, which of course is just another relative word for karma.

i see what you did

Go now, people, and find your serendipity. If nothing else, it’s a really fun word to say.

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(click on groovy me below…the hair demands it)

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Relative Karma - ACX FINAL

Comments
  1. ahh, yes, I remember that hair. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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