“...the smallest possible number of characters in fiction is three. -- -- Damon Knight in Creating Short Fiction.
STOP. Before continuing, write down who you think Mr. Knight is referring to. I admit it. I got it wrong.
The answer is obvious once you know it. Two of them are active participants when I write. The third appears occasionally, but it's the one I need to concentrate on more. Have your answer? The three characters are the main character, the author, and the reader. Mr. Damon also says:
“Imagine, as you write, that a reader is at your elbow, constantly commenting on what she sees and asking questions.”I find it hard to view a story from the reader’s point of view. How do I know what the reader wants to know or is confused about? As the author, I know all the answers -- or should. As part of the process of writing my next story, I’m going to let the story sit for a couple of days and then try analyzing it from the point of view of someone who’s reading it for the first time. What questions are left unanswered? Do I know enough about the characters to care about them? Are the characters well rounded with good and bad points? Does the story flow make sense? Am I leaving anything out?
Wow. Now that I’ve written this I wonder how the heck I can be the author and the reader at the same time. Anyone have any ideas?