Alarm bells go off in my coach’s head every time I, while character creating, make a logical jump, if this, then that. She jumps on these every time, telling me this is too much like math, this is too binary, humans aren’t like this. An example: I wrote a sex scene where my character ruined the moment after sex by speaking about potatoes. I asked myself what’s the consequence of that. How will he change so he doesn’t cause this tension again? I wrote: He will now be careful right after sex, maybe lay there counting 60 sheep before moving into the next activity.

RING! The alarm screams in my coach’s head. She tells me this achieves nothing. She’s been telling me that all year, over and over, and I never quite understood how I needed to change, to create differently.

What happens with me is I know I need a consequence and a realization, so I just leap to those. In reality that’s not how humans function. Humans are actually everything before and after those events, humans are all the fuzzy things in between which cause those events. We aren’t robots if this, then that, else this other thing. Instead we are a bundle of emotions, of pain, and of irrational thoughts.

“Math” focuses on the external, how people rationally act, objectively (robotically) think and act. Story focuses on how people irrationally act, subjectively (humanly) act — often from emotion and from pain. Those are the pieces of life that make us care for our friends and family.

So I must create by asking questions about emotions, what they are thinking and feeling, where do they feel pain, and so on, and from that space, ~allow~ the consequence and the realization to appear. And maybe, if I create in this way, I can start caring about our characters in the same way I care about my friends and family.