A man has a congenital brain defect.
He has been on medication and had multiple surgeries throughout his life.
You would never know because brain surgeries generally mean that the scalp and skull were cut into and when hair grows back…
He is now in his 20s.
Both of his parents are dead.
He had two siblings.
They are both dead.
He is standing outside of a seasonal market, geared towards tourists, in the city in which he lives, alone, with no friends, no family.
He is alone in this world.
Then he spots an American tourist being screwed over by a vendor.
His name is Daniel. The American tourist, we later find out, is named Patrick.
Daniel is in love with Patrick the moment he lays eyes on him. A need to be the hero fills his head and he jumps into action, helping the American tourist with the vendor, feeling that this will make them fall madly into love and live happily ever after. So…he springs into action.
That is the question that kills a lot of us writers. We have thought of a character, given them a little backstory, thought of the catalyst for our plot/story…but we do not know where to go from there. Is what we have now enough to make an entire novel? A novella? Novellete? Short story? What can we do with this information the muse at the furthest corners of our brains has whispered to us desperately, urging us to write this idea as though our lives depend upon it?
But, really, what are we to do with this limited information about a character we know a little bit about and a character we know very little about? What is there for us to create a story with?
My, gosh. There is so much to create a million different versions of a story with those few sentences. Does Daniel helping make Patrick light up, smile brilliantly, offer to buy him a coffee, which leads to a personalized tour of the city Daniel gives that lasts all night long? Do they end up on a park bench, sat close together, the sides of their legs hesitantly touching as they watch the sun rise? Do they share their deepest dreams and desires, knowing in their heart of hearts that they will end up together? Do they confess their attraction for each other? Do they kiss as the sun just starts to peek over the horizon and paints the city gold?
Maybe Patrick tells Daniel to mind his own business at the market? Thus begins an antagonistic relationship where they become lovers. Or, at least, friends.
Possibly, Daniel helps Patrick, Patrick says “thanks” and they go their separate ways. Daniel is left to walk the city alone all night, pondering what might have been if he had been more forward. He daydreams and fantasizes about a life that will never be with this beautiful man he saw in the market. Then he sits alone on the park bench and watches the sun rise, a renewed man, ready to find love so that he is no longer alone in the world.
Perhaps Daniel confesses his attraction almost immediately, but Patrick says that he is straight. But they still spend the night touring the city together, talking about their lives, divulging the smallest details that build the foundation of their lives. When they part, the following morning, the city turned gold by the sun sneaking back into the world, they share a warm hug or handshake. Patrick is inspired by the kindness of someone who no longer feels like a stranger, but more like a friend, and Daniel remembers that he is not alone in the world.
Maybe, maybe, maybe.
All of these stories would be amazing. They are character driven. Any of these versions of this story would be something that I would read because any of them would help me to understand the characters and provide a glimpse into a life that might help me understand the world and people better.
As writers, we sometimes have to let our characters lead. Sometimes we have to let the story lead the characters…but we must never fall into the trap that “what the writer says goes” because therein lies madness.
When we try to force our characters and stories to unfurl in the way that we imagined, we are setting ourselves up for failure. Our minds contain multitudes. We are filled with the voices of the universe, wanting to help us understand the world and humanity better. Why would we fight against it?
Find your character. Then let them tell a story. That is the best advice I have for how to avoid writer’s block.
Tremendous Love & Thanks,