I’m reading a wonderful book by T.M. Souders, Freedom Road, right now. Her character is thrown into a world of pain, both literal and physical, and one thing after another goes wrong for her. But in that midst, she finds happiness somehow. But it got me to thinking about writing. We throw our characters into every imaginable thing possible and make them force their way out of it.
And that makes for a heck of a story! It really does. I, mean, who wants to read about characters who don’t go through a bunch of stuff that will tear them apart limb from limb and destroy their mind slowly? It would be boring.
It just isn’t this book though that I was thinking about. It’s my own too. (And trust me, this book is one of my new favorites!) It’s every other book I’ve read. (Mostly.)
One of my creative writing teachers told us to throw everything imaginable at our characters and force them to come back out of it. So, that’s why I’ve been doing. I think it develops our characters more. It shows that we CAN in fact develop characters because they have to learn through each and every obstacle we, their writers, throw at them.
Don’t be afraid to drag your characters through their own personal h-e-double hockey stick and back. It adds character to your characters. It brings out the good and the bad of them. It helps the reader sympathize with them, and I think sympathy goes a long way with readers.
In Piercing Through the Darkness, I make the readers sympathize with a character who ends up being the “bad guy” although I really don’t count him as the antagonist. The accident that happens is more of the antagonist that destroys every one of their lives. But, I drag these characters through so much. Loss, revenge, lies, and attempted murder. But they come out of it strong – well, sort of.
In Read Me Dead, I tossed my MC, Alex, into a world where she’s terrified to walk out the door because the guy she saw murder her parents has threatened to kill her if she told his secret, and in a moment of weakness, she tells that secret secluding her twin brother from her and inevitably losing more than she bargained for. She’s weak, but she grows. I love that about me throwing her into her own personal hell.
We’re cruel creatures, writers. We kill people (on the page). We put good people through the worst of obstacles. And we sometimes root for the evil being hiding in the woods because that would make the story better. But, in the end, we have a good product and story that will sell.
So again, I say, don’t regret putting your beloved characters through hell because they usually find their way back.