Thursday, April 4, 2013

Thursday's Children - Alternate Reality

Alternate Reality

A weekly blog hop where
Writers share their inspiration.
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Mostly, I write about people trying to find their identities because I'm still trying to find mine. Nearly XX number of years in this skin-bag, in this flesh-mold, and there's still the occasional dissonance between what's real and what's not, who I am, who I might have been. Like movement is one nanosecond behind what it should be.

Sometimes I trip over a crack in the universe and fall into another dimension.

There! There I am! See how red the bottoms of my shoes are, like I've just come from a lipstick field, as I sprint to catch a bus that's already pulling away.

Or I'm sipping a mimosa on the back patio of a that cafe and a bag lady hobbles by, stench of piss and vomit in her wake. Is that me? Couldn't be.

Or I walk through a boutique doorway and catch sight of myself in a mirror. Only it's not me.

That elegant, plastic-faced woman with the ethnically-ambiguous husband couldn't possibly be me.

Only it is, and not, and maybe still could be.

In alternate universes, I made different choices. Those choices led to completely different lives.

When I see myself in these people, in this way, I give them histories. Backstories, if you will. This inspires me to reexamine my characters when I come to a point in the story when their actions ring false.

They come to me with their stories, but it's my job to figure out how they got to this state. What the fuck makes them so special? Who do they think they are, trying to change the world? 

The signal that they're lying is their hesitation, which translates into what some people call "Writer's Block." They can't tell me what happens next because they have tripped on the crack and slipped into another dimension. They've seen what could have been if they'd made different choices. Or if different choices had been made for them.

Bring them back to the here and now. Find out why they didn't choose x,y,z to end up in one of those alternate realities. What they say will show you their motivations. And lessons learned in the past can illuminate what choice to make in the present.

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  1. Lovely, insightful post. Sometimes I feel that my characters are holding out on me (not giving me story direction and dialogue) because I haven't put them in the best situation-the one that allows for a seamless telling of their story. If I go back and move them somewhere else - different locale, different characters mingling - sometimes they give me what I need.

  2. I love the idea of seeing bits of yourself or bits of your characters in the people you encounter.

  3. Oh, man. This is fucking brilliant. I'm so glad I'm not the only one who feels like I'm inhabiting the wrong person's skin sometimes! Especially since having a kid, every so often I'll look in the mirror and think, "Who the hell is that woman, and why is she in my pajamas?"

    And your definition of writer's block? Right. Fucking. On.

  4. I like it a lot!

    Ever see the show Sliders, back in the 90s? Each time the characters visited a new alternate reality, they had to figure out what made it different, and whether that difference was a good or bad thing. In their minds. That always helped to reveal who they really were.

    Thanks for sharing this!

  5. Wow! This is just ... I don't even know what to say ... so insightful and lovely, yet haunting and disturbing at the same time.
    Thanks for sharing!