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.
I realized something about the premise of the main characters of Believer during the long period of time I have not been writing it: they were static. The personalities I saw for them in my head were the personalities that I was giving to them from minute one. Through their differing personalities I wanted them to give a commentary on how different people see the world in different ways, and how vastly different those ways can be. But Believer is a story about life; modern-day, normal, real life. And the defining thing about real life is that everyone is changing, every day. Everyone is learning something new and relearning something old. Nobody is the person they were five years ago, or will be in five years. In real life, nobody is static. But more importantly, nobody is perfect. Nobody has it all together. Nobody is completely satisfied with everything in his or her life. Everybody has some sort of problem they’re troubled with, because even the most positive people can’t put a good face on everything, and most people aren’t exactly what could be considered “positive”.
Cecile Smith was going to be one of those positive people. She was going to have it all together and put a smile on everything. She was going to see the world through a glass of goodness and be the one that would get other people to see the world differently. And it would have been boring. It would have gotten old, quickly. Static characters are good for short stories, or stories where the plot is more important than the characters the plot is happening to, but in a story about real life a static character has no place. Cecile cannot have it all together. She can’t just be presented as a person who talks to imaginary friends and says weird things and yet is perfectly content with it all; that’s too idealistic. I want Believer to be realistic, even if I stretch the meaning of that word as far as it’ll go and starting tough on elements that might not be real. I want these characters to be real characters, real people with real problems that search for real solutions, and hopefully find them.
The working title of this story is “Believer” for a reason. But a big part of believing is asking why people believe the things they do, and an equally big part is learning how to believe. I want to capture that, if I can. I want to capture that journey—those questions—not just the question of what people believe in, which I seemed to be focusing on at first.