the power, oh the power!


There are times when I often wonder, “What if I had been born anywhere other than New York City? What if so and so’s hair was blonde instead of brunette? What if she were short instead of tall? What if he (Tom Cruise) were ugly?”

And it ends right there. Because you can’t change those facts. She’s tall. They’re brunette. Tom Cruise is good looking. I was born in New York City. Done.

In fiction, these kinds of “what if” questions are the foundation of potential stories. This is how stories are born.

In my novel, I am finding myself wanting to CHANGE these kinds of facts, midway through. My characters are who they are…but I am now asking “what if” OF something I’ve already imagined OUT of an original “What if.” And I CAN, if I really really want to. ARGH. My main character is born in North Korea before the Korean War. And nowwww…now I want to change his birthplace to the southern Korean countryside. WTF. Why do I do this to myself.

I had to walk into the kitchen this morning and tell my husband, “I’m about to ask you a question–but your answer is, ‘Finish the novel first and then reconsider.'”

So I proceeded to ask, “I want to change my main character’s birthplace from North Korea to South Korea…”

He answered, on cue, “Finish the novel first and then reconsider!”



Filed under The Novel

3 responses to “the power, oh the power!

  1. “What if” is the quintessential fiction writers’ question!!

  2. In my first novel I changed (a) the main character’s name; (b) the person he falls in love with and (c) the entire personality of a woman he befriends. I did this after I wrote the first draft, but I can certainly imagine doing it during the writing. It’s just that I didn’t think of it until I had finished.

  3. Richard

    Tom Cruise has bad teeth.

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