A Private Conversation with Story: Who’s really in control?

Me: Okay, it’s early in the morning and I have coffee. Let’s get started. There’s this science fiction passage I want to get into today that will lead to the big reveal for the main character.

Story: No.

Me: What do you mean ‘No’.

Story: I mean no.

Me: Come on, quite playing around.

Story: I’m not playing around. You are. This is wrong. It’s all wrong and you know it. That scene doesn’t work. You’re forcing it artificially to produce a desired outcome. That’s not right. And you with a science background and all.

Me: I don’t have time for this.

Story: You don’t own me.

Me: What?

Story: I don’t chew my cabbage twice.

Me: Look, I–

Story: Oh, I’m sorry. I guess you thought I was finished talking?

Me: Well, I–

Story: There you go again, interrupting when you should be listening. When you should be thinking. This scene doesn’t work. Not to mention I don’t want to be a hard SF story. I’m thinking more dark fantasy with maybe some science fiction overtones that lend atmosphere and imagery to the world you’ve created. Yeah. I’d look good in that. Real good.

Me: I make the decisions around here.

Story: I didn’t mean to laugh out loud, but I couldn’t help myself. Look, Mr. Writer Man, here’s how it breaks down. You come up with ideas, you do the research, you do the physical writing. Okay, I give you that. But you don’t decide what works in me and what doesn’t work. I do that. I do that because that’s how stories operate, that’s how we are structured in an almost biological way. You bring us to life, and water us with your imagination, but eventually we strike out on our own. As you flesh us out, don’t be surprised if we become something other than what you originally planned. That’s not a reflection on your ability as a writer. That’s a reflection on the power of the story itself. The power of me.

Me: Dark fantasy, huh?

Story: With science fictional overtones. Trust me on this one. I know what I’m talking about.

Me: Okay, we’ll try it your way. But if we do I am giving you fair warning . You are going to have to get out there and shake it hard.

Story: Don’t I always?

Me: All right. Let’s do this. But be gentle with me if I start going wrong again.

Story: I’ll try.  But I’m not making any promises.

Who writes the story? You...or the story itself?

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