The primary reason why I stopped working on Believer is because I do not have a plot. But the lack of plot is itself a symptom of a larger conundrum I have: where to put Believer on the scale of fantasy versus reality. I have forever been enamored with stories that seamlessly blend reality and fantasy together so as to not diminish the qualities of either, and so if the opportunity presents itself my inclination is to do the same. In a story where a strong theme is going to be belief, I feel it’s prescient to observe things people believe in that are real, things that aren’t, and most importantly, things that are uncertain, for this is where belief is needed the most. A character may believe in Santa Claus, whether or not Santa Claus exists, and through this belief the character molds their life and becomes a different person who strives to be good all year, because Santa Claus is watching them. Over time, the character may strive to be good because they see the value of goodness in the world and the peace goodness brings to their life, not just because they want lots of presents. In this way, it was not Santa Claus that was important, but the belief in Santa Claus. Whether or not Santa Claus really exists never really mattered, because Santa Claus represented an idea, an ideal to this character, that meant so much more than the physical man ever could. And by believing in this ideal, the character learned something about themselves.
Tomorrow there will be better words here than the words that are here now.
I once posted a daily extoling the “side characters” for their unique quirks and lovable personalities. However, as all too often happens in my life, I give a piece of advice then go on to not follow it myself, because I’m living under the assumption that I’m incapable of making a bad decision about something I’m giving advice on. Believer was initially going to be set up to be a four-part story, each part told in the perspective of a different character in the setting, thus blurring the line between “main character” and “side character”. The four parts would roughly correspond to four seasons, providing a look into a defining year of the characters’ lives. I had good ideas for three of the four characters and a rough clue of the fourth, and decided to trundle onwards and fill in the blanks as I went along.
Until a story is bound and published, there is always the opportunity to change it. And I am very glad of this fact. Previously, much of my adult writing experience has been in online stories posted incrementally, several thousand words at a time. But once these words are sent online, they become set in stone, and cannot be altered. The further I go and the more I write, the more set in stone the story becomes, and the less flexible I can make it.
“Believer” is not this, and for this I am very glad; otherwise I might have made a grave error.
“We did it…” he wheezes into his helmet, wasting precious air on words that need not be said. The young man, no more than twenty, smiles, as from the ocean of blurry lights all around him emerges a very purposeful collection of them: a space station. He crawls backwards and tweaks a makeshift lever with his foot, a jet of propulsion sending him on a course towards his intended target.