D is for Decisions

Good decisions come from experience, and experience comes from bad decisions. ~Author Unknown

How close should I get to this potentially dangerous baby Gila Monster?  Just a... little... closer...

Chuckwalla: South Mountain Park, Phoenix, AZ; Photo Credit Doree Weller

Good fiction should always have the main character making decisions.  The trick, I think, is having the character make decisions that fit with the character.

I’ve read books before where a decision seems misplaced, and I couldn’t understand why the character would do that.  Decisions shouldn’t necessarily be explained to death, but should fit with what we know about the character.  The one exception to that is Young Adult fiction.  I was reminded of this by JK Rowling.  Young adults need to occasionally make decisions that don’t make sense.  Why?  Because they’re impulsive, with raging hormones and under-developed decision making centers.

I remember making some decisions as a teen that I look back on now and think… “What the *BLEEP* was I thinking?”  I wasn’t.  And the logical adult part of me has trouble remembering what that was like.  Until someone cuts me off on the highway.  Then I can remember for a second or two what that was like.

But the quote makes a good point.  Experience does come from bad decisions.  Sure, there are other ways to gain experience, but most people want to find out for themselves (myself included).  Most people don’t want to listen to someone else.  They want to see it, hear it, taste it, touch it.

We all make decisions constantly, whether we’re actively thinking about them or not.  In books and movies, I love getting a peek into the thought process of a character faced with a tough decision.

3 comments on “D is for Decisions

  1. iseegoodthings says:

    That’s one of the best parts of reading a good story: seeing how a character decides to maneuver through the obstacles placed before her.

  2. grazona says:

    I love love love that quote! I have a habit of torturing myself over “bad” decisions I made years ago. I’ve come to learn that it all had led me to where I am today which is where I’m supposed to be! When it comes to books, I totally agree that when a character makes a decision that doesn’t make sense it kills the momentum of the book. I recently read The Hotel New Hampshire by John Irving and that was actually one thing I noticed and liked about the book: sometimes his characters make poor choices BUT that makes them totally relatable to me. I’m reading along thinking “Don’t do it, don’t do it, don’t do it” and then he does it but I totally get it and understand why he did it. Neat post!

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