Fighting with this latest short story has been good for me in several ways. First, it’s just plain good practice to keep writing until you get something you can use. But it’s also become a possible springboard for something more.
In the world I’ve created—seen not only in my short stories, but also in the novel I’m writing and its eventual sequels—I have a supernatural symbiont that is passed down matrilineally. Therefore, I’ve taken great pains to figure out exactly what that line is, for six generations. The trouble, though, is that somehow the paternal branches have fallen completely off the tree.
So far, the only male character in my fictional genealogy chart is the (plotwise) future love interest for my main protagonist. That leaves out her father, grandfather, and two further generations of patriarchs whose very existence is hinted at only through the fact that their offspring exist. If nothing else, this seems like an oversight because I’ve left her relationship with the men in her life utterly undefined.
Until now. This short story has been kicking my butt for the last few days—particularly the ending, which just wouldn’t cooperate—but while massaging one portion of it, I’ve discovered the barest nugget of a male character. I finally met her father.
Now I won’t lie; he’s still drastically underdeveloped. Heck, he doesn’t even have a name yet. But at long last I have an inkling of who he is, what he’s like, what drives him—and how his relationship to my protagonist has shaped her. That’s big! Not because I need him specifically—in fact, I’m pretty sure this first novel does just fine without so much as a whisper of him—but because it makes her richer in the long run.
Besides, it’s given me some ideas for Book Two. They might even be somewhat useful ones. I’d better go write them down before I forget.