Thursday, August 25, 2016

Burned Toast

The other day my daughter asked me to make toast for breakfast. Our toaster had not been working all that well, and it would sometimes forget to pop the toast out. I would have to remember to pop the toast out myself by hand, or be stuck with burned toast. On this particularly morning, I was busy getting too many things done in too little time, and I forgot about my daughter’s toast. It came out black, and not very appetizing.

I told my daughter that I would make her new toast, because the first piece was gross. She told me that she still wanted it. I said, “No, you won’t like it.” She then proceeded to throw a tantrum (she’s two after all), because I would not give her the black toast. I tried to tell her again and again that she would not like it, and that I would make her a new piece. She was having none of it.

Finally, I gave up and gave her the burned piece of toast. She happily stopped crying, took her toast, and proceeded to eat the entire piece. I was shocked. I never would have eaten that piece of toast. But my daughter did, and she liked it.

As I thought about this moment with my daughter, it reminded me of my writing. Sometimes, as writers, we want to force our characters to act a certain way, because we think it is the way they should act. But we shouldn’t force our characters to do anything. We should let them develop. We should learn about them and understand them. And we should definitely let them decide whether or not they like burned toast. Maybe we wouldn’t eat it, but our character or daughter just might.