I recently spent time in a local park and took in the natural beauty. A panoramic view of my surroundings was lush and green. I suspect that most writers are like me, they take in the surface and then move on to look deeper, always looking for the story behind what is seen. In the case of this coastal forest, as I studied deeper, I noticed the myriad of leaf shapes and shades of green. The textures of the bark, the draping Spanish moss and the dappling of the sunlight filtering through added layers of interest. I contemplated:
was the beauty of the scene based more on the composition of the parts read as a whole (the forest from the trees) or was the beauty derived from the ability of individual trees to stand out amongst the other trees (the trees from the forest)? I came to the conclusion the beauty was revealed to me from both perspectives and neither view had a strong advantage over the other. This was a good lesson for my writing. I focus a lot on my characters (the trees) I tend to dream them first and then build stories (the forest) around them so I can share them with the world. Fantastic characters are not enough to carry a novel without a strong story and a story with underdeveloped characters falls flat. Attention must be paid to the development of both. The story like the forest is the big picture that draws you in and carries you through to the end. The characters, and with that I would include setting, give the depth and interest that lingers with you after you read the last page in a book. I am currently working on a trilogy and I envisioned the characters first. I knew the ending even though I have not officially written yet, I have written the beginning. Currently I am working on all that needs to come between. Story has surged to the forefront of my attention. However I want my characters to grow and change from the beginning to the end, just as we all do on our life journey. So trees and forest, characters and story, the beauty comes from the strength and contributions of both.