Murakami Method | Writing consequences in fiction

Running with ideas, what it's like to be hated

Writing method: On phone

Word count: 995

This morning it was straight to work on the chapter. My phone battery was running low, but that was a limitation easily overcome.

I'm writing this after a 10 mile run in the morning heat. I haven't run that long since last year when I was training for the marathon that would become my last.

Considering the heat, my pace was decent: 9:00/mile. Not bad. I was planning to only do 7 but I pushed it to 10.

The first half I did with only the ambient sounds of morning traffic buzzing on the roads beside me. My route is a runner's dream.

Start at the Torii Station gym overlooking the sea, down to Torii Beach, exit the beach gate, pass my house, then the road with the smell of cow shit and farms, next it's onto the city streets, down hill, up hill, then right onto the main highway, then it's the no man's land between the marina and the Kadena main gate, though I did have a few aircraft blast overhead (AWACS and F-16s).

It's a scenic route I never take for granted no matter how many times I run it.

On the way out, I pull a Haruki Murakami and often think of lines for current and future stories. Some of these fit neatly into current projects others I forget by the time I finish the run. Today the idea was for the troublesome duo Victor and Debora in Gates of Okinawa.

I envisioned a scene where they are talking as statues, complaining and bickering as usual. But they can't move. A bird flies over, perches, then promptly shits on Victor's head. Debora cracks a joke, end scene. I'll probably use that one.

Today's Chapter

I found myself diving into Zena's backstory. But I did it with purpose.

One of the things I like to show in my stories are consequences. This is true even if those outcomes aren't very relevant to the plot.

Nothing we do in our lives is without some sort of consequence, good or bad. It's important to show the cause and effect relationship, especially as it relates to certain characters.

In this chapter, we see Zena reflecting on how she's been well-liked all her life (with the exception of a few haters as a teacher). However, now she's grappling with what it's like to be irredeemably hated for the choices she's made: many that have been forced upon her by the events in the story.

This is something I've dealt with my entire life. Being a Black military vet, who worked as a cop and a teacher, there have been many scenarios where just showing my face gets me instant hate.

I've traveled all over the world. Reactions to me range from purse-clutching to fast-walking or straight up accusatorily hostile. The trend has followed me online, where if I forget (or I'm not in the mood) to put an exclamation mark on a comment it could be deemed as combative.

Don't feel sorry for me though. This is something I've learned to live with long ago. But for certain people, especially women, being generally hated for showing up in most circumstances (there are of course exceptions in traditionally male dominated fields) is not a normal concern.

That's what Zena feels in this chapter as they make their way to the sixth gate.

Character Status

I got to throw in a Shohei Ohtani reference via Yumi to lighten the mood. Don't know who he is?

He's the Japanese stud baseball player who's also a homerun hero. I'm not very familiar with baseball, but I think he plays for the LA Dodgers. Anyway, he's very famous over here in Japan. He recently got engaged, which saddened many Japanese women over here. Yumi echoes that sentiment.

She's a character I've really come to like. A wisecracking, world-traveling, party-girl who's closing in on retirement age is a good contrast to her stereotypical younger counterpart. It also reflects the reality of the older population here in Japan.

While Yumi and many other characters have shown themselves, I'm still struggling to distinguish Zena's character. She's too buttoned up, too predictable right now. She tends to be a more brooding character. This is fine, but I'm still looking for ways to make her standout on the page.

I don't think I'll find it until the second pass through the manuscript.

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