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"I discovered to my joy that it is life, not death, that has no limits." -Gabriel Garcia Marquez  1927-2014
Hello, writers. In addition to the sad loss of yet another author, I'd also like to report that this week I've been seeing grebes. Not “seeing” in a romantic sense, but in an ornithilogical sense. On the lake, swimming busily about. I think they are horned grebes, not the dread Least Grebes, but they do have a very grebe-like manner. They turn so that they can glare at you out of one eye, and then they twitch their tails disapprovingly.

Also, a very large loon.

In other news, I've been thinking about characters. Specifically, I've been thinking about characters and how they react to the plot. We've talked before about villains, and how a villain does not think s/he's a villain. From the villain's point of view, s/he's the good guy, out to save the world (or at least those few parts of it s/he deems worth saving).

And we've talked about supporting characters, and how they don't see themselves as supporting characters. From their point of view, they're the protagonists. This is why it really annoys me when a sidekick is available to drop everything s/he's doing-- job, family, novel revision-- just to traipse off to Devonshire or Alaska or Mordor at the protagonist's bidding.

(Speaking of sidekicks, am I wrong in thinking that if Elrond's council had selected Sam to be the ringbearer instead of Frodo, things would've gone a lot more smoothly?)

Anyway, one thing I have always admired about Diana Wynne Jones's work is that in her books, even the protagonists have things they'd rather be doing than serving the plot. If you think about it, in most books (certainly in most that I'd read up until I discovered DWJ circa 1980) the protagonist is so noble that s/he never gives a thought to him/herself once s/he discovers there's a plot that needs to be plodded through.

Protagonists are forever eating things that aren't what they want to eat, ignoring insults and minor (often major) injuries, putting aside books they really want to read, eschewing crushes, and just generally being noble and self-sacrificing in the cause of... the plot. They care far more about the plot than they do about themselves. This is not normal. And it doesn't make for believable fiction. After all, the proganonist doesn't even know there is a plot.

To have a character-driven plot means, I think, to have a character who's doing what s/he wants and the plot can follow along if it wants. If it doesn't want, it can go find itself another book to be a part of.

So, I'm thinking everyone in a book needs their own concerns, independent from the protagonist's (unless they happen to be the protagonist) and from the author's.
In view of that, tonight's challenge:

A callow youth and his/her stout companion, seeking the Jewel of Togwogmagog, have learned that info about the Mysterious Bloke Who Last Saw The Jewel can be obtained from the Wizard Mumsy. So, not without some trepidation, they climb the winding path to the wizard's tower. There they find that the wizard is...

...completely absorbed in some concern of his/her own.

Write the scene. Try to limit yourself to 100 words.

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