Suffering for Happiness: Keeping Characters Interesting

Let them suffer

“In life, we adore comfort.  In fiction, comfort is our greatest enemy.”

-Chuck Wendig

I have to remind myself of this any time I start getting lax with my story narrative.  It usually happens if I become too attached to a character.  It’s all well and good to care about them, but when you start softening the metaphoric hand gripped around their throat, you lose good tension and drama.

I’m feeling that a lot right now with my current story.  It’s one I’ve been working with on and off for about seven years, so I know most of the characters pretty well, and I’ve poured a lot of my own struggle and strife into them.  Good thing is that it helped me work through my own issues, but I made the mistake of caring too much.  And it’s damn tempting to take it easy on them after you end up caring too much because you wish someone had taken mercy on you when things got rough, or that they were there to stop you from going down the wrong path.  We can’t have that kind of divine intervention in fiction, though.  It kills the narrative.  The characters might be happy, but they’re damn boring as a result.

I’m trying to rectify that now, seeing as I have a self imposed deadline of the end of January to have the first draft done.  It’s time to get tough.

I’m trying to come up with a good ’snap out of it’ system to implement when I feel myself sliding into that icky, feely, stagnation.   So far the only ‘system’ I have is a couple side documents on Scrivener with disaster snippets.  Like what if they offend the trickster god, cue random bullet, or, my personal favorite, though I have yet to actually use it: bees!  All the bees!

Other than that, or going to a plot twist generator, I think the best thing would be to remember this: make them cry, make them bleed, let them be wrong, and let them suffer for any happiness they get.  Nothing comes without a price, after all.

Other Resources:

Writer’s Block: The Comfort Zone Monster

The Doneness Project

Happy Author Smashing: Torturing Your Darlings



4 thoughts on “Suffering for Happiness: Keeping Characters Interesting

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