Life is a complicated thing. There’s so much more to it when you really pay attention.
I learned this from a High School Teacher (thanks Mr. Lipston) when he asked the class to watch a lit candle in a glass container as he topped it with a lid. He told us to repeat the experiment and write down exactly what we saw.
Being all of fifteen at the time, I think my brilliant response was simply: The flame gets shorter until it disappears.This is a true statement, but it is so much less than what I see now when I snuff out candles. I watch the light in the glass dim as the size of the flame is quickly reduced by the smoke unable to escape. But the stubborn flame wants to live, so it climbs the wick and concentrates its totality in its innermost blue, gasping for its last breath until it dies, immediately releasing a steady stream of gray smoke that swiftly swirls within the oxygen starved confines of the glass.
Maybe watching candles die is what inspired me to make my new novel’s main character a ghost.
When you think about it, a lot of intricacy goes into making up each of our moments, hours, days and years. There’s so much more to my story than just a recital of what I did today, where I went, who I spoke to. Their stories and my history also color each moment. The place and time in which we live definitely help shape our reality.
So when I took a look at the novel I’m working on, and started thinking about rewrites, I decided that a few sub-plots were necessary to bring a three dimensionality to my characters and their world. I”ve made this decision before, but I haven’t always been pleased with the results.
My inner control freak wants to cut away everything except my primary characters and their story. The artist in me is convinced that the Mona Lisa wouldn’t work half so well without the landscape behind her, and that Les Miserables without Eponine’s unrequited love would make the Cosette’s love affair too easy.
Tonight my task is to introduce new elements to my established plot and complicate everything with the odd twist and, providing intricacies to my character’s moments, hoping to make them jump to life like a candle freshly lit.
Wish me luck!