Fiction Writing: Creation vs Evolution
By Robert Polk
Do you use the word creation to describe your writing? Although creation means “bringing something into existence”, and that’s kind of what writers do, I’m still uncomfortable calling my writings “creations”. I often wonder how many other writers feel they are merely conduits for ideas waiting for proper expression. If you’re like me, your writing ability continues to evolve, as do your stories – and yet there’s still plenty of room in our brains for creative flow and evolution of craft. (There is in mine, anyway.)
Even when I’m working on new projects (whether MG or otherwise) I’m reluctant to claim full credit for “creating” anything completely original.
The word “discovery” fits my idea of writing. Because for me, it’s all about character discovery, or it’s about discovering the plot that works or discovering the circumstances particular to the development of each scene. At any rate, in my writing process, I go searching for the character, or plot or world or circumstance. I seek them out, listening, observing, and trying to really hear or feel them.
Maybe in some sense we did “create” our characters and the circumstances in which our characters find themselves. But even then, I stumble at fully believing that I caused a character’s existence, rather than finding her or him.
The point is, for me, I’m doing what works. And what works for me is listening to people, watching and really hearing the characters and considering if they are right for this book, or chapter, or scene, or whatever.
No, I can’t use the word creation – not when referring to my characters. They are already there, somewhere, waiting for me to discover them and to really hear their messages. But I will help them evolve, as I put them through a series of ‘what if’s. The poor suckers may suffer an embarrassing situation or deal with a tragedy of some kind which may show an interesting side of them.
When my characters display these previously hidden facets of themselves, I can’t help but wonder what else is yet to be learned about (and from) them. I plod on, nudging, tweaking, prodding them to see what they’ll do and say. How can that process not be more discovery than anything else?
Although the argument of Creation vs Evolution can be polarizing, I think there’s a little of both going on – at least in my writing.