Writers of fiction are omnipotent (all powerful), omniscient (all-knowing), and on occasion, impotent (writer’s blocked), all-in-all, akin to the most creative force in the cosmos with the ability to create whole universes of worlds and populated with all sorts of creatures. They can guide and nurture their creations or with a key stroke, utterly annihilate and destroy them forever. Their creatures can be created in any shape or form endowed with all manner of abilities or challenges. They can be endowed with perception and awareness. They can be made to laugh, cry, or rage—dance to whatever whim is needed to fulfill the writer’s desire. Depending on how they are fashioned, these worlds and creatures can become historic memories that live for centuries, or fade into oblivion.
“For in the image, we are all puppets of the gods,
perhaps nothing more than their toys.”
—Plato (427-347 B.C.)
This is pretty heady stuff when you sit back and think about the world of your story and how it is populated. We shape how the characters look and act, think, speak, and feel as they are manipulated through the twists and vicissitudes of the plot.
Previous eFiles discussed how to assemble characters and set them up for manipulation by endowing them with strengths, weaknesses, and quirks, making them seem so real that readers will come to love, hate, or be ambivalent about them.
And then, there are the many ways to tell the story to achieve this. Backstory tells of their past. From which point of view the story is told can be limiting or expansive. For instance, events seen only through the eyes of one character is like wearing blinders, a very restricted view. A third person storyteller can see more, but an omniscient can see all, know all, and tell what everyone thinks. Multiple points of view show how others view and feel about each other and events.
All these are some of the first things a writer must consider after they have a idea in mind for a story because, ultimately, they shape and give impetus to the story.