I am working on a new story which takes bits and pieces, characters and ideas, from other failed projects and recycles them into a new tale. It’s kinda strange, to be honest. Some of these failed projects went over a hundred pages or so and I had invested a lot of effort and thought into developing the characters in those stories before realizing they just weren’t meant to be. And now they are as if a part of a circle of reincarnation contained only within the “library” of my writing. A minor side character is suddenly the star, while a previous protagonist is shuffled to the background.
Anyway, there’s the new story and it has been going along pretty well. Only about fifteen pages long over three chapters (with each chapter covering a different character, so far. I think I am going to cap it at four main characters) and I had just started the third chapter staring what was originally going to be a minor character (the Taiwanese grad student assistant to the original protagonist), when I, in a random half-asleep hallucination, have decided to make the story more interesting by giving her something odd to interact with. In this case, something that I haven’t yet decided will be imaginary or real: a half-wooden, half dirt foot-tall being that she has been friends with since she was a little girl.
If I make it real, then it would add a supernatural element to the story. There are strange things going on, but the world of the story, so far, had not traveled into that type of surreality. And I am not certain if I want it to go there. There are hints at a strange cult, newly discovered siblings, and a man overly obsessed with the failures of his recent past, but nothing at the level of a real, living magical being.
It is so early in the story that this decision will be very important in deciding how grounded things are. But then I wonder if I can isolate that surrealness to only one branch of the story. Can I still maintain some degree of realism in a world where such a creature can really exist? And what would it mean if it did exist, but that it remained the only magical piece, at that level, in the story? Or would it say more about the character if her friend was imaginary? I hope this doesn’t trip me up and that I can move forward with the story. Or perhaps, I won’t resolve whether it is real or not until later in the story, letting me play around a bit more before I have to decide how things are.