INTERACTION By Katherine Prairie

interactionWe get a lot of rain here on Canada’s West Coast during the winter, and with a window right next to my desk, I’m often staring out at the drizzle while I write. It struck me that the trail of rain that weaves its way down the glass is as intricate and complex as a well-plotted.

I start my stories with a single idea which becomes the foundation of my plot, but other ideas come into play as I write, and I soon find myself juggling several subplots! Like rain that runs down a window pane, those subplots hardly ever make a bee-line for the finish. Instead, they meander through the book, sometimes running parallel to the main plot, and other times intersecting with it. They may briefly cross other subplots too, creating an intricate pattern as they move through the story.

When you think about it, characters are like that too, or at least they should be. Although we each have a general direction in life, our plans change as events and people affect us. We might veer off in a different direction for awhile, only to return to our original course heading, or we may turn back and start again.

thirst-coverIn stories, characters are driven forward – they seldom reverse course and start again! But just like real life, they should be affected by the other characters and events. We’re all familiar with events that affect characters directly – murder, an argument or injury, for example. But there are other events that create an atmosphere that influences characters in a subtle way. For example, the recent U.S. election results have left some feeling confident and others uneasy, and that mood will affect the decisions and actions of many people in coming months.

In THIRST, a wind storm that begins on the first page, swirls through the first few chapters, impacting each character in turn. It’s a subtle introduction to the people in my story – how does something as simple as the storm affect them? Whether they embrace it, fear it or endure it, their reaction reveals a little of their personality.

We all know that a good storyline depends on its characters. But what’s less obvious is what happens when characters in different storylines or subplots meet up at some point. Do the characters mingle and linger when their stories cross? Does the plot swerve because of the interaction, or does it maintain its steady course, absorbing the character interaction as part of its own?

In THIRST, Alex is deeply affected by a single meeting with Dr. Eric Keenan, but she barely senses another character Olivia Taylor when their storylines intersect. If you watch the rain, you see this same action. At times two rain trails merge, only to separate again later, or they interfere with each other, forcing a completely different direction for one or both.

Since that rainy day, I’ve started thinking more about how my plots interact, how the characters affect each other, and how they’re affected by story setting and background events.  It’s given me a new perspective, one that I believe will make the next Alex Graham suspense thriller even more intriguing to my readers.

katherine-prairie-v2Katherine, a geologist and IT specialist, stepped away from the international petroleum industry to follow her passion for writing. An avid traveller with an insatiable curiosity, you never know where you’ll find her next! But most days, she’s in Vancouver, Canada quietly plotting murder and mayhem under the watchful eye of a cat. She is an award-winning presenter and the author of the thriller THIRST.

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8 thoughts on “INTERACTION By Katherine Prairie

  1. Hi Katherine, welcome to the blog. We are so happy to have you. Thirst is up next on my TBR. It is a fascinating premise and one that is all to real in today’s world. Your blog is timely for where I am in the plotting process of my next book. It is all about the interaction and that interaction is a delicate balancing act.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for inviting me – I can’t think of a better way to spend a Monday!

    You’re right about the balancing act and it takes effort to find that sweet spot between too much and too little plot and character interaction. I’ve read books where a subplot seems like an after-thought, and it really doesn’t add much to the main story at all. On the other hand, if there are too many cross-over points, and characters coming and going between story lines it can get very confusing, very quickly!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Interaction is a fascinating concept in both life and literature. Whether random or planned it is a driving force in life and a molding force in plot and characterization. Very nice post. I like the rain rivulets on your window. They are also on mine. We had a big storm yesterday. I’ll see how that affects my characters today! Best to you with your book . THIRST. The word itself demands action.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love the fact that our “interaction” through this post might influence you, and I’m curious to see how looking out at that rainy window affects your characters. I don’t know about you, but the weather certainly affects my writing mood, and so does the amount of light. I leave my murder scenes for dark nights or stormy weather — somehow it makes those dark words flow easier.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Katherine — You’ve absolutely nailed something that’s been a struggle for me as I continue to develop my mystery series…. and using rain rivulets on a windowpane (which I’ve also found completely mesmerizing!) really helped me visualize an otherwise intellect-only concept (if that makes any sense). Thank you for sharing this!


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