Monday, January 11, 2010

Creating Trouble for Your Characters

I love my story's characters. Even the mean ones. I want the very best for them, and I want to see all their hopes and dreams come true. And with fiction, this is very easy to do.

Lose your job? Hey, how about you pop by the 7-11 and I'll make you buy a lottery ticket on a whim. I'll even make it a winner. Striking out on the dating dance floor? Well, I can whip up a man who meets all your requirements. Want to bop around Europe? Wouldn't you know it, the value of the Euro just plummeted and I can get you there for a song.

Problem is, all these easy outs don't make for interesting writing. It's clear that as an author you'll have a more complex relationship with your characters than anyone who reads about them. But, to create compelling writing, you really have to care more about your readers than your characters.

Because creating trouble for your characters is what your readers are thirsting for. They want to see the very worst of your characters. They want to read about people who are down on their luck. Stuck between a rock and a bigger rock. Choosing between crappy option A and crappier option B. It's what keeps the reader turning the pages, to find out how will Billy get out of this mess?

And without the readers engaged enough to keep turning the pages, those characters don't get a chance to tell their story. So fall in love with your characters, sure. But love your readers more.


  1. Hmmm, good reminder, Lisa. And now you've got me rethinking a choice I just made in my wip. :-)

  2. funny you would say that about what readers want, when people read my book, I don't think they got the just of it. I have had negative feedback about my story and even on the 2nd edition which i gave a sneak preview on..sad people are so negative...but you have good views keep it up