First up today: if you have a Reddit account, please run over to the Fantasy Writer’s forum and shoot my short story, The Gown, an upvote. I’m trying to win a writer’s contest, the Fantasy Writer’s Spooky October contest, which will earn me nothing at all other than my own self-pride. Yes, I’m totally shilling for votes, so don’t let me down.
I was thinking of the word Agency this morning. I like it, because it means more than just “an organization that takes your money and provides you with some service that is of dubious benefit in representing you in some manner.” Though I like that definition as well. In fact, I like it so much I decided that I was too impatient to wait further on the Mercy story and sent a query letter to an agent. I probably should wait a few more months, but meh… I wanted the practice more than I think they’ll jump on the chance to represent me and get it published. Consider it a dry run on later queries.
But Agency also means “a person or thing through which power is exerted and or an end is achieved” (thank you Merriam-Webster). We inhabit our stories with characters, and those characters have agency. Or maybe they don’t, which could easily be another aspect of their personalities. At the very beginning of King’s “Rose Madder”, we meet a woman who lacks agency. The wife of an abusive husband, she is powerless to leave him, to get away from the physical and mental tortures he inflicts upon her. But then she finds her agency – in the form of a drop of blood on her sheets, such a simple thing – and it gives her enough power to change her life. Granted, perhaps not the best example, but there are plenty of them, you just need to find them.
So when you’re thinking of your characters, think of agency. Think of their goals, their desires, and how they are going to achieve them. Will they better themselves through hard work and effort? Will they try to find some magical doodad that gives them power? Will another person inspire them and lift them up? Or will they continue to live a life of quiet desperation, sowing the seeds of despair, until one dark day the monster comes knocking at their door, and they suddenly realize they should run from it all?
In the meantime… go, vote, go NOW! I hate shilling myself, I feel dirty… maybe I can hire an agent to do that for me?