That's what I'm asking myself as I work on a short story these days.
It's a question that you have to ask, but I've noticed if you ask it too soon or to harshly, you kill your own magic. Imagination is everything, but allowing it the freedom to let it fly as far as it needs to before it's hauled down for repairs is even more key, I believe. Self-censorship too early on makes for a crash landing.
There are a lot of aspects of storytelling that you should never really notice if you're reading or listening. If you're lucky, you are pulled into a story as if by some magnet. You cling to the scenery desperately as the story winds to a close and never want to leave that new landscape behind. You really care about what happens, you understand deeply, and your own imagination carries the story far beyond its original pages. It all really matters.
When I was in seventh grade, our English teacher read us a story for about 15 minutes at the end of each class. The bell would ring, she'd have finished her reading and we would exit the room. Once, there was a suspenseful story in which the main character was facing certain death, and all of us were on the edge of our seats, spellbound. The bell rang. She looked up, and we all urged her, "Keep going! Don't stop!" We were all late for our next class, but nothing was more important than hearing what happened next. It was the coolest thing. No Star Trek transporter ever did a more effective job moving 30 kids to another world.
As I write my story, I feel really glad I am not God. No disrespect intended, but it's crazy enough keeping track of one ordinary character. Imagine seven billion of them swarming everywhere. What a headache. Sometimes, my character just sits there no matter what I do, and other times he is going to town, moving like mad, and I can barely keep up with him. Who knows why. I'm letting him roam for now. Later, I'll net him, examine him and see what needs trimming. I'll find out who cares, and hopefully it will be me.
So, there was this man, a successful man with a broken heart ...
Causes Christine Bottaro Supports
The Nature Conservancy, California State Parks, The United Way