Pushing

I’m editing a story I wrote last year, with the plan to submit it to a short story contest that’s looking for fantasy/paranormal/speculative fiction.  I’m happy with it, but I know it needs more in places…and also less.

The main character has been talking to me today, and it feels like we are catching up after time apart. I’ve been pushing into how something made her feel. I’ve had no problem getting her to talk affectionately about the other character or to describe the sequence of events, even the tough parts. But she hasn’t revealed much about how she felt when things started going badly. She’s cracked a little today, though.  She’s ready to share, and so even with a busy schedule, I’ve been squeezing in time to get the details down.  They’re messy, hand-written notes, and there are arrows and boxes drawn all around the pages.  But it feels right – the additional insight is going to make the story stronger.

The main character is warm-hearted, but practical, and she doesn’t lose it when something threatens her.  So how do I make a character like that admit she’s frightened?  Or that she’s in pain?  I can see her holding back her reactions, staying strong to get through the situation, but her stoicism could keep the reader from connecting with her.  She’s in survival mode, focused on the immediate future, and putting off her freak out until after things calm down.  But she’s going to have to break a little, I’m afraid.

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