Books Choose Their Authors


Michelangelo said, “Every block of stone has a statue inside it, and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.” Salman Rushdie said, “Books choose their authors.” This concept of a complete work of art waiting in the ethos to be carefully released by the artist, helps me. I find it reassuring to think of my novel not as an evolving thing but as something which exists and is merely waiting to be discovered. With each editing and writing session, I chisel away at the marble to expose the True Work within.

As I move well into the first revision of my YA fantasy novel, do I see the True Work revealing itself? Yes, the characters, the magic, the plot twists, the history, they’re all very exciting to discover. But the thing I can’t seem to reveal — the thing that is kicking my excavating arse, quite frankly — is the most important element of all: what the main character truly, truly wants. She wants a lot of things. She wants to buck convention; she is very curious and wants to know where the massive structures on her otherwise bucolic world come from, who built them, what their purpose is or was. She questions the True Mission of her people and wants to turn against it. I’m having a hard time solidifying that into EXACTLY what she wants. I get this feeling that the answer is right in front of me but I’m not seeing it.

10 thoughts on “Books Choose Their Authors

    • Deemallon, you get the award for blog response of the day. What you wrote makes a lot of sense. What my protagonist wants is, for her, unnameable until she can figure out more about her mysterious origins, which is what her adventure is all about.

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  1. Hey E. B. Messenger, Just wanted to say how much I enjoyed reading your post. Excellent way of thinking about the writing craft – I love doing so too, so comforting to think that those ideas are just below the surface and it just takes a little bit, or sometimes – a lot, of whittling to get at them. Good luck with getting to know your MC’s core motivation and knowing her completely 🙂

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    • Hi, Ray! Thank you for the well wishes, especially about getting to know my character completely — I like how you put that. And as for the the way we view the writing craft, yep, leave it to us creative types to prefer viewing things through a magical lens. Good luck to you in your writing, too!

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  2. Very profound… and to think I thought I was clever. Turns out I’m just a vessel for stories!
    To be honest, character motivation is a thing I struggle with too, but as I write, the characters always seem to know what they want – up to the point where they actually respond to scenes in ways different to what I was expecting, thus wiping out the next plot point in my plan. Sometimes, I think my characters know more than me!

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  3. I love this! You are so right, it can be very difficult uncovering that one thing the mc wants most, but rarely are our lives bundled in such nice little packages. We want a ton of things! So it makes sense that your mc wants many things for herself as well being that she is a complex human being! Keep up the good work! I look forward to following along your journey as you work on your novel since I am as well and reading other writers who are in the same boat at me makes me feel less alone! So thank you for sharing! ❤️

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