The Choices Characters Make

The Choices Characters MakeEngaging stories come out of the choices characters make. Or as Sue Brown Moore advocates, never stop asking ‘why?’

My fantasy trilogy is obsessed with choices, all starting with The Ghost and the Vipers. The flash forward in Chapter one is really a prologue. Chapter Two is the introduction to Jovanka, our protagonist. It begins with her choices and never stops. Let’s get to the question why?

In the Beginning

My not-very-subtle opening comes in Medias Res on a dangerous journey;

Jovanka is roaming the dangerous wilderness of the Outlands.

Why? She’s looking for someone.

Why? He’s filled the visions of her second Sight.

Why? He’s the one man she knows she can rely on.

Why? Her Sight has shown he has the skills and the temperament to get her out of trouble.

Why? (spoiler) He’s eventually going to complete a mission only he can.


We can extend this using the And/But game.


She’s drawn to this one individual.

Why? Her Sight shows them together.


There’s a price to pay.

Why? Her Sight shows her someone close will die if she pursues this goal.


There’s a whole train of trauma she drags along with her.

Why? She’s mixed race AND she has an abusive past


Her Sight is a gift.

Why? The visions in her Sight show her a path to a certain future


It gives her something to cling to.

Why? She’s isolated, alone and an outcast


Her Sight is also a curse

Why? That ‘certain’ future is incomplete; she mostly sees danger and pain.

The Why’s add up

The chapter isn’t really about the world-building that establishes where we are, why it’s so dangerous, and a sense of impending threat. Those are external threads that pay off in Chapter Three. The internal threads – the why’s – take up the rest of the entire book.

Most of  Jovanka’s choices come as hints and half-truths. She holds a lot back. She’s not an expansive or reliable narrator at this point.

There’s a layer of conflict between Jovanka and the hired bodyguard, all about the choices the characters make. Then there’s Jovanka’s guilt for the choices she makes. Choices are all internal plot threads. Never stop asking ‘why?’



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