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Daily Obstruction: In Medias Res

11 Apr


In Medias Res


“When you write a novel, do you start with a concept or a character?” he asked.

“Sometimes concepts become characters, other times characters exemplify concepts,” I said.

“Which am I?” he demanded of me.

“That depends,” I said.

“On what?” he asked with both skepticism and fear in his voice.

“On where this story began – with a concept or a character.”

“Only you can tell me that,” he said, impudently, folding his arms.

“That may be true, or. . .”

“Or what?”

“Or, maybe there is no beginning to this story.  Maybe you just came into existence.  Don’t you remember?”

“Only if you give me such a memory.”

“Well, let me ask you this: What does it matter to you?”

“What does what matter to me?”

“What does it matter whether you began as a concept or as a character?”

He pondered for a moment and then spoke slowly, “I don’t know that it makes a difference, but I’d prefer to know one way or the other.  I suppose I’d feel less. . . real. . . as a concept.”

“But by now you’d be a character.  A real character.”

“Maybe,” he said, “but only if you’re good at your craft.  Otherwise, I’m just a strawman, a stand-in, a ringer for something more ethereal.”

“Well, I can tell you, unequivocally, now you are either a full-blown character or a concept with personality.  In either case, I couldn’t tell the difference between the two.”

“Let me ask you this. . .”