By Nichole Giles
Have you ever known a person who was adamantly positive that things in a certain situation were exactly the way they look to that person? This person might stand on the sidewalk observing a family through a window watching a father pat his son on the head as they bow their heads to give thanks for a bountiful feast. The mother unties her apron while a daughter carries a pie into the room and sets it in the middle of a table laden with food. From the back yard, a dog can be heard yipping happily.
What that person doesn’t see, and can’t possibly know from the window view, is the trouble and pain behind the smiles. This is what we—the writers—must provide.
Perhaps that father has been laid off from his job, or the daughter might be about to announce some disappointing and life changing news to her parents. Maybe the feast on the table is the family’s last meal together before the mother is sent off to war in a far away country. The dog might be yipping happily because it is finally being fed for the first time in many days.
Those problems, the emotion behind the one dimensional picture window, give those characters depth and change the dynamic of the scene and within that family. That is our role. It is a writer’s job to not only see the story behind the scene, but to then show the story between the lines for our readers to see. It is only then that our story becomes a story rather than a picture through a one-dimensional window.
This is crucial and necessary because though there are people in the world who would believe it, the majority of us know that things are not always as they seem, a fact for which I am eternally grateful.
Real life is a mystery, and I think that’s grand.