Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Casting Protection Spells

Writers have a habit of working their own personal quirks into their fictional worlds. It's only natural. After all, creative writing is basically just a way in which we try to figure out the world around us while holding the illusion of control. Fiction allows the individual to inflict his or her will on a representative universe. Writers incorporate elements of their own lives not simply to inject a sense of realism into the work, but as a psychological exercise to make sense of their own reality.

I often build story elements around actual details from my life. I will use an encounter, or an action, or conversation as the starting point for my imagination, letting it swell into something important. One such event occurred last week when we got what will most likely be the last snowfall of the year. All winter long I'd wanted to make a Snowtoro (a Totoro made of snow, obviously), but it had consistantly been too cold for proper snow building. Finally the conditions were right, and so I took a break to complete the task. When I was done, it struck me how he seemed like a sentry guarding my home from evil. Within seconds, this translated into an idea that I couldn't wait to build into a manuscript I'm working on.

It struck me that my characters should have some token of protection, more superstitious than magical, that they use to feel safe in the presence of the monsters who terrorize them. It's hard to explain the feeling a writer gets when struck with an idea that seems to fit so perfectly with what they are already trying to do, but this was one of those moments for me. It seems once again my odd personal superstition will effect the fate of my characters...they can thank me for it later.

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