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The Why

October 16, 2010  Author: Anthony Pacheco Category: Characterization, Plot, The Craft   0 Comments

Some whys need no asking. There is no reason to ask “why” someone broken into my car and ate my Altoids and took all my D&D dice, he just did. Nor was there a profound why when King County Sheriff returned my dice. It was the deputy’s job, and I was thankful.

True story, by the way. But I digress.

A writing friend asked me for some advice. After the “I am not published” disclaimer, I told her if she really wanted to improve her characterization, she needed to start asking the hard questions about herself and be prepared to deal with the truth of her self-assessment.

I gave her a kissing example (no, I did not kiss her, geeze). Why, when I was a young man in my teens, did I kiss one girl and not another?

The easy answer would be opportunity. That’s only a small truth to a larger answer. Did I kiss the right girl, or the wrong girl? To not answer the question of kiss, for a writer, is to make the unsaid claim that kissing isn’t important.

The romantics in us know that kissing is everything.



Self-reflection can dive into the danger zone. Mistakes we made are a part of us and to wish they were not leads to self-loathing.

That’s the rub. The writer has to look past that. She has to answer why. Sometimes the answer is full of regret. There is no second-guessing in the almighty pursuit of the why. Even guilt is a substandard emotion when digging at ourselves for the truth.

This leads me back to kissing; kissing is visceral. It is a physical act of desire, passion, lust and love. Sometimes at the same time.

Mmmmmm kissing mmmmmm

Oh wait, what were we talking about again? Oh, that’s right. Writing.

There is always the story of the boy or girl that got away. And that’s why I brought up kissing. It’s more than the boy and girl that got away as a universal story of longing, regret, and loss. It’s the reality of not kissing. Think about it. It’s one thing to say “oh, that’s the one that got away,” and quite another to say “we never kissed yet I can close my eyes and feel her lips on mine.” Never held hands. Never made love. Never fought, never made up. Never admitted a mistake with a sheepish grin.

The why. Always the why. Don’t tell me why that one got away. Tell me a story about why you didn’t kiss.

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