[The Story] Dining With Characters

In “Shopping With Characters,” I focused my fiction-writing meandries on how storytelling is more organic than mechanical. Inspiration can happen anywhere; you must first prime your mind to receive the inspiration. Since “The Story” is partially a commentary on contemporary life, it’s easy for me to, say, go to a restaurant and think about how characters might act or react. Let’s take an upcoming scene from the side story Novel 02 as an example of this.

Spoilers?: Major [Overview of Novel 02]

Before I dive into the scene, allow me to provide some context.

Novel 01 was my first formal practice in the world of writing fiction. The novel features Sammohini as the main character. She is the sister to one of the two main characters of “The Story,” Trishna, but “Novel 01” is a self-contained story. There are elements I needed to decide on regarding “The Story” before I could begin writing – settings, names, et cetera – but it’s self-contained enough to where if there are contradictions between Novel 01 and “The Story” itself, then those contradictions should be minor.

This scene is between Sammohini and a coworker of hers, Zhanna.

One of the ‘traits,’ if you will, of Sammohini is that she tends to ramble through her thoughts to arrive at her point. There is a scene in Novel 01 where, and this is a note to go read Novel 01 here, or skip past the end of this paragraph, she has a paragraph-long monologue that fills up an entire page. It’s one of my favorite parts of the novel. It is a subversive jab at the notion of novels that have these succinct conversations where everyone’s talking at a fast pace almost like they’re not actually talking. Maybe in high-strung city scenes involving business people, but I’ve found more of the opposite to be true.

Zhanna, too, rambles through her thoughts before arriving at her point.

The scene that’s been kicking around my brain regarding Novel 02 is simple: Sammohini and Zhanna are sitting, at either the Eville Medical cafeteria or maybe sitting over coffee somewhere else, and talking. Would they talk in paragraphs? That’s the notion about some more contemporary fiction novels that drive me wild. Why do they talk incompletely, interrupt each other, and otherwise skip over the dialogue? Normal communication usually happens in sentences. What I mean is that when I talk to people, I will bring up an idea, and we’ll have a back-and-forth. When I talk for a paragraph at a time, I might be telling a story, but that can often be overwhelming for the listener.

What happens if two friends get together that talk in paragraphs?

My imagination went to how Sammohini rambles and how Zhanna rambles, and the result was something close to my example from Novel 01. I wouldn’t intentionally aim for that extreme, but if either one were to ramble for that long, I wouldn’t go back over to edit their communication. When I’m thinking about these characters and channeling them into the fiction, I leave in typos or when they stutter. That’s my attempt at conveying a more realistic fiction that’s closer to nonfiction. Sure, these characters don’t exist, but their situations and mannerisms should feel like they exist in some sort of reality matching our own.

I thought of this scene after dining-in at a restaurant for the fourth time this year.

I didn’t think much of John or Trishna directly. That’s the thing about inspiration, too. In the moment, we might be engaged in the conversation or soaking in the scenery, but when we reflect on those moments later on, we can inject our own inspiration. As I walked, on one cane, to the booth, my mind’s reply can introduce John and Trishna into the scene. They could be eating at a time that I didn’t casually memorize as we went. When I replaced us with them, I had an interesting thought.

How would John and Trishna sit at a booth?

If the restaurant were wheelchair accessible, they would sit at a booth that was out of the way of anyone else, and Trishna would leave her wheelchair in the aisleway and sit on one side of the booth. Which side would John sit on? The obvious answer is that he would sit on the opposite side of the booth of her, but he can’t fully use his right hand with two missing fingers and the muscles don’t completely work. If the food were easy-to-eat, then, probably they would sit across from each other, although in many situations, Trishna would sit to John’s right side to help with anything he couldn’t eat with just his left hand alone.

These scenes naturally happen when I give myself the space to explore them.

When I’m feeling sick, dealing with spine pain, or my mind is otherwise occupied with other areas of my life, I tend not to think about anything related to “The Story.” It’s natural, but I think that’s the thing about writer’s block. We overload ourselves with stimulus and then expect immediate output. In studying how my mind works, I find that I can work for extended periods of time in a hyper-focused state, but then I’ll need to let my mind get bored. I think that’s what happens when we think about ‘nothing.’

My mind is never empty, but when I think of ‘nothing,’ my mind clears temporarily.

If life is like a never-ending water faucet, my mind is like a cup that tries to capture that water to nourish elements in my life. If I fail to water elements like my health, then my health degrades. If I fail to water the social elements of my life, then friendships and acquaintanceships falter. When we know what elements in life we don’t care about – I don’t need to be great at chess – then we can divert that water to other areas. I’d rather learn more about writing fiction. Not all of that is through reading fiction.

My fiction is more inspired by nonfiction.

Endtable
Quotes: None.
Sources: The Story’s Imaginarium.
Inspirations: Besides what I wrote above? Well, I thought about both this and Part-One while doing a little bit of kitchen clean-up. I’ve never had much problem with writer’s block. I dump everything down that people might feel horrific about writing, but that’s my life, and writing two million and counting words has been helpful in being able to write more effortlessly in regards to fiction as well as my life. When we stop giving fiction-writing some kind of perverted reverence and just write, it’s much easier.
Related: Essays building “The Story.” Essays helping buildNovel 02.” This novel is formally called “A Story About Self-Confidence: Something About Anxiety,” and is a sequel to “Novel 01,” which is part of the Sammohini Arc of “The Story.”
Picture: Template
Written On: 2020 October 18 [12:05pm to 12:41pm]
Last Edited: 2020 October 18 [First draft; final draft for the Internet.]

 

My big goal is writing. My most important goal is writing "The Story." All other goals should work toward that central goal. My proudest moment is the most recent time I overcame some fear, which should have been today. I'm a better zombie than I was yesterday. I'm not better than you and you're not better than me. Let's strive to be better every day.