My daughter talked me into making cookies for a playdate she had yesterday and it made me think of writing. And no, I don’t mean the obvious metaphor of how a story has ingredients and they have to be mixed in the right proportions, blah, blah, blah. It reminded me of the scene in Anne of Avonlea (I think?) where Anne tries to publish her first story.
Anne gets a rejection and then confides her very dramatic disappointment to Diana Barry. Diana asks to read the manuscript and then complains because the heroine (who is appropriately fancy and hoity-toity, just like Anne likes) bakes a cake a the end. Anne is defensive, saying that the heroine (I think her name is Cordelia?) is trying to show her domestic side. Diana, trying very hard to be a good friend and NOT a critique partner, just smiles and nods. Later Diana re-writes the cake scene and there is a very funny scene where the story wins a flour competition and Anne gets very offended that her work has been used for.. gasp!… profit.
So that made me think about this book I’m reading on developing characters and how you have to create a back story for your character so that you can figure out a natural and understandable way for the character to react to things. If they react in an incongruous way, then your reader will be taken away from the narrative. And I think the important part is that it doesn’t matter if YOU think it makes sense for the character to behave in a certain way – your READER has to think so, too. If they sense that you are just making the character do things to further your plot without being respectful of the character, itself, then the reader will stop trusting you as a writer and become less invested in the character and plot. I can think of a few places in my WiP that have this issue – I know why the characters are doing whatever it is they are doing, but I’m not sure I’ve set it up thoroughly enough to convince a reader.