Standard disclaimer: This post looks at the text of a short story for educational purposes, and does not shy away from spoilers. If you don’t want the story spoiled, read the original story first. (And subscribe to support the magazine.)
Sketching the Most Important Story
This is a character sketch as a story, a moral about how to live. Surprisingly simple in structure, a brief biography leading to a crisis of character and a single action to resolve that crisis.
One of the “rules” of fiction is to write “the most important story” of the character’s life. I think it’s important to add “so far” to that, which is why characters can write series characters and why some series have to end, because there is no more important story, no way to make the stakes higher, without breaking the character.
Rose de Recht does tell the most import story, as the crisis is that of her character, her identity, always threatened but finally challenged from within the character herself. I suppose all fiction must deal with that at some point. A protagonist isn’t the person they thought they were or who they wanted to be.
The tragedy here is Rose clings to the wrong thing.
The exercise here is to write a brief third person biography of a character. Describe them in their own best terms. Highlight their central points of pride and then challenge them on at. A single try fail cycle will work.
Any moral you find along the way is a bonus.