I told someone I would put Skata’s next interview up today, and so to keep that promise I’ll attempt to write it up sometime this afternoon. Just now, however, I have another thing to talk about – you could call it a spin-off of Jenny’s latest (and excellent; you should go read it) post, The Sounds That You Hear. Near the beginning, she says that too much modern literature feels like a skeleton – it lacks meat for literary bones. I quite agree with her, and I believe I know one of the main reasons why this is so –
The author forgets that they are writing not just one story, but possibly dozens at a time. I’m not talking about all those half-finished WIP’s you keep in a folder on your desktop (I’m as guilty of this as the next man, and probably moreso) – I’m talking about each story you write. Each single story contains a universe of other stories, and they’re all happening at the same time.
You have a main character, and you see the world of the story through his or her eyes. But what about the other characters? You have to realize – for them, the story is theirs. They are the main character. Too often, I read a novel where the main character is decent, but everyone else is a shadow and falls flat of any emotion or depth whatsoever.
For instance, in The Lord of the Rings, Frodo is the main character – and yet, for Samwise, it’s about his quest to protect Frodo, no matter what occurs. For Aragorn, it’s about reclaiming the birthright he isn’t sure he wants. For Eowyn, it’s about her desire for valor and adventure. For Legolas, it’s about a completely unnecessary trip with an aggravating dwarf and a smelly human – I kid, I kid. I love Legolas as much as the next person (he just can’t hold a candle to his father).
In my own novel, Natural Disasters, the main character is December – but for Jasper, Natural Disasters is about protecting his family from a girl who could destroy everything he’s worked toward for a thousand years. For Adam, it’s about trying to love a human girl despite the odds. For Mikael, it’s about trying to survive in an ancient, dysfunctional family. For Celia, it’s about trying to live her own life under the shadow of her brothers.
In short, no matter what the story, every character is the main character in their own eyes. It would do not to forget them – our fictional people have a way of making us pay for neglect, be it with a skeleton-novel or a sudden death.