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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Options

In some stories, tension is created when the hero is running out of options. The coping mechanisms no longer work, other people get fed up with the hero, or the hero is placed in increasingly dire straits until the only way left is to jump into the adventure.

In Sister Act, Whoopi Goldberg's character witnesses a mob murder and has to go into hiding as a nun. Her options are limited - pretend to be a nun or die.

Other heroes don't even get that much choice - they are simply "shanghaied" into the adventure, conked on the head to wake up far out at sea, committed to adventure whether they like it or not.

Tension can also be felt when a character knows what they want, but then discover they have options they never dreamed of, or thought possible before. Will they leave their job, home, friends and family for the adventure?

How do you use options to create tension, or dilemma for your characters?

13 comments:

Rhonda Parrish said...

I don't know that I've ever thought specifically about how I use options to create tension for my characters. In the novel I'm currently writing... I guess I do sort of slowly take options away from my MC, but she still always has a choice (just like Whoopi did), which I think is important as what they choose shows us a lot about who they are.

Taryn Tyler said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Taryn Tyler said...
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Taryn Tyler said...

Joseph Campbell calls that the call to adventure. Some heroes struggle against it but it is only when they accept it that they are able to succeed.

Jenna,Mark Drady said...

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CA Heaven said...

Interesting. As a hobby writer working on a novel or two, I'm always interested in learning the craft >:)

Cold As Heaven

CA Heaven said...

Interesting. As a hobby writer working on a novel or two, I'm always interested in learning the craft >:)

Cold As Heaven

Andrew Leon said...

Usually by giving them an option they cannot not choose. The result of not choosing it is too horrible for the character to deal with even if choosing it could mean his/her death.

A.M. Guynes/Annikka Woods said...

I have a problem with taking away the options of the characters and only leaving them one way to go, which leads to some boring and flat storytelling. I need to be better about giving them what they need to expand the story.

Lisa Mandina said...

I don't know, haven't ever thought about that. But in a way, this post kind of gives me some ideas for the story I've been working on for awhile and gotten a bit stuck on. Thanks for stopping by my post, and following. I'm following back!

Swathi Shenoy said...

options always creates confusion for me! but what is life without options? boring it will be! btw i love ur blog name :)

http://swathishenoy.blogspot.com/
a-z participant

SENCO Cat Herder said...

Thank you for popping over to my blog and commenting. I have just read your entire A to Z Challenge as it was so riveting and full of great thoughts about writing. Joining your followers now!

Lizzi R said...

That you used 'Shanghaied' made me happy.

That you (kindasorta) helped me think a few things through was also useful. I need to figure how to translate this when the story's being told through a narrator.