While reviewing my current work – “The Renaissance Compact,” Book 2 in the Stymph Sequence – I came to one of those famous “Author’s Dilemmas.”
See, I had a character in the story. Let’s call him Frank. Frank’s a tertiary character. He has lines and does things that help the story along, but never gets the spotlight. I wrote to a certain point and realized…I didn’t actually need Frank. He had no unique role. No lines that someone else couldn’t supply.
The character had no reason to exist.
Characters have to have a reason to exist. Some purpose, even if it’s just to satisfy the reader when they die gruesomely. Otherwise they’re noise. Background fluff. Like all the people walking down streets in movie backgrounds.
Some authors like to excise characters like Frank. Others agonize over it. I just shrug, scribble out some lines, and continue on. It’s not writing out a character’s noble/tragic/heroic death – it’s erasure. Revocation of existence.
Now, I’m going to grab your brain & squeeze a bit. The whole notion of “needing a reason to exist?” What if we turned that notion around to ourselves?
Why do YOU exist?
You, right there, reading this newsletter on your phone. No author writes your life. No one decides if you’re in the story or not.
Which makes YOU the author. The one who decides your purpose. Why do you exist?
It’s a choice we all have. A philosophy, if you will. Do you exist to eat croissants? To work in an office for 50 years? To experience commute traffic in every major metro in the world? (I recommend against that one.)
A question nobody can answer for you. You know what that gives us, each and every one?
Power. Authorship, whether it’s a book or a lifetime, grants us power. The power to decide, and the power to act on the decision.
Yet when I look around, I see so many people who have not decided. If you asked them, “Why do you exist?” they would say, “I don’t know.”
Because they truly don’t. They just go through daily motions, work/eat/sleep/repeat. No reason guiding them. Ignoring their own authorship.
Is that you? Have you ever truly decided why you exist? If not, I hope this will prod you into considering it. There is immense satisfaction in deciding why you exist. Not to mention motivation to keep going when you face a challenge.
Me, I know why I exist. I have 2 reasons:
- To learn ever-more about this reality.
- To write.