We give them hope and we take it away.

Hope.  We give it to our characters and then take it away.  In the blink of an eye, our characters go from hopeful to distraught.

I’ve been thinking about that particular way of writing.  It has been happening in a lot of TV shows I watch and in the books I’ve been reading.  The author has given these characters a slice of hope of escaping whatever torture they’re in.  But, just like that, they take it away – and make them work through their hopelessness until something else that’s good and hopeful comes along.  And then, they take that away too!

I do that with my writing.  In fact, it adds something else to the story.  It keeps putting them in troubling situations that they have to find their way out of.

I just think it’s cruel to the readers.  😉 

I was reading Insurgent by Veronica Roth last week, and something like that happened in her book.  A lot of somethings like that happened.  I won’t write any spoilers, but I was so upset.  My stomach was in knots, and I wanted to hunt down Veronica Roth and beg her for answers about why she would trick us like that!  Seriously. 

Eventually, it all made sense.  Well, not all, because there is going to be another book, and she had to leave some things open ended.  I get that.  Doesn’t mean I’m happy about it though.

Back on topic here, is it cruel to give our readers that hope and then just take it away? Probably, but it’s a necessary evil I think.  But, I may be wrong?  What do you think?  Is it cruel to give the readers hope and then take it away?  Do you use this particular method in your writing?  Do you think it gives that “edge of the seat” feeling to your stories?

Personally, I think it does.  When something like that happens as I read, I literally cannot read it fast enough!  So, maybe, it’s cruel, but it’s something that makes the story better. 

I’d love to hear your opinion of what you think!  Sound off in the comments below! 


20 thoughts on “We give them hope and we take it away.

  1. Don’t mess with me, authors! I’m emotionally fragile! Pull the rug out from under me too many times, and I won’t be able to crawl to my feet again. By all means, yes, torture the characters. But be gentle with me!


      1. It’s too many hope repossessions in a single book that wear me out. Once or twice, that’s fine, I can handle that many twists. But too many twists give me pscyho-emotional whiplash. If you’ve got that many evil tricks up your sleeve, spread them out over a series, so I’ve got a little time to recover during intermission.

        P.S. — PTTD arrived yesterday, and I gobbled it up. Poor Jonathan. The man needed a support system. Maybe a Jimmy in his life.


      2. I know! He really did. I felt bad for him. I didn’t originally intend to have him be such a sympathetic character, but that was his personality.

        I agree with you. Once or twice I can take it. But once it gets to three or four times, I’m screaming at the author in my head! lol


  2. Yes, I write like that. Yes, I think it’s a great way to get the pages turning faster. As long as it’s somewhat relevant and it moves the story forward, I say be as cruel as you can be. 😉

    Great post!


  3. Dear Emerald,

    I am really love the fact that posted this on your blog. Hope is right and I also agree that it is cruel to the reader not to offer it. For me it is a show I am watching on Fox called The Following. Oh my goodness that show has offered no hope what so ever. I have to admit this show which comes on every Monday night with Kevin Bacon as the retired FBI agent who is called back after a serial killer he hoped put away Joe Carroll is in the news again. I mean every time that you think the good guys are going to win – they do not and the bad guys always get the upper hand and I do not know how much more of this I can take. I understand this is a psychological thriller/ series but we as viewers need some type of silver lining – or hope. As you stated about the book you just read. I understand as you and the other authors have said about – be hopeful and cruel but spread it out and do not torture us the readers but the characters. I am sorry I had to vent on this show. I for one would script it to where both the FBI agent and the killer go toe to toe. I also like the points raised by all of you Emerald. I loved both your books and especially the characters because they had some type of quality that made them special in their own way. Great post!

    Syl Stein


      1. Dear Emerald,

        I know I am almost ready to give up on it too lol. Your not missing much right now lol. Thanks so much my friend. I do love your books and I hope to have you on my blog to talk about your upcoming books and writing just let me know when works for you!



      2. Dear Emerald,

        Your most welcome. How about MArch 25,. I will send you the questions and then let me know if they work for you! looking forward to it! thanks again for this post!



      3. That should work. I’ll be gone from home the 24th and 25th, I have a speaking engagement, but I’ll preschedule tweets, etc if you can send me the link ahead of time. 🙂


      4. Dear Emerald,

        that sounds fine and how awesome for you. I will send you all the information and I will then post it live on the 25th or if you prefer I can wait till the 26th! Awesome !



  4. I agree with Danielle, you have to be careful not to do it too often or in some sort of predictable pattern. That can get old fast.

    And (a pet peeve of mine) don’t drag it out toooo much when every reader knows how it will end up. Some situations can resolve in different ways, but some are preset. So, keep track of which type of story you’re writing. 🙂


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