My latest project is taking shape around a pit of truth. The flesh around it isn't true though. I'm wholesale inventing two characters (at the very least) upon whom plot and arc will hang, so it kinda feels like I'm putting some sort of fertilizer in the mix here. The vivid neon of Miracle Grow in an otherwise organic scaffolding.
Occasionally a situation will occur to me and I'll want to build character to accommodate the scene playing in my head. For instance, last night my 8-yr old (who I hadn't seen in over a week) wanted to play "spa" with me. He got out lotion and a comb and hair spray and wanted to "fix me up." It was one of those situations where you wonder if this will be replayed on a therapist's couch down the road.
After a few minutes of him trying to yank a comb through my rat's nest hair, I suggested he put the beauty products away and go to bed. "But I want to sleep here, with you!" he said.
Soon as he was in bed I thought about how this scene could play out with the not-yet-fleshed-out characters in my work. Suppose the mom really got into her little boy playing with her hair and giving her a facial, etc...? Then let's say the little boy grows up to commit infractions of a boundary-issue nature?
It's back to that old process question one hears from time to time. The difference between fiction and non-fiction? Non-fiction seeks to explore the question: "What about..." whereas fiction meanders into the territory, "What if..."