"There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate's loot on Treasure Island." - Walt Disney

Monday, January 12, 2015

What Can Go Wrong?

I do most of my writing just after lunch, or late at night. I have to wake up early to get the kids off to school, and the morning hours are spent running errands or making appointments. Just after I eat lunch, I get a short burst of energy which seems to offer a renewed concentration. Unfortunately, a couple hours later, I leave to pick the kids up from school and the evenings are spent cooking, completing homework, and various other lifetime achievement awards.

I love my family, and they will always come first, but this doesn’t seem to help me create a stable work schedule. Activities and other demands invariably pop up during “writing time”. I suspect I’m not the only writer who suffers from this condition. There are a lot of advantages to working late at night -- it’s quiet, and few interruptions can arise then.

Just as these “interruptions” occur frequently in our lives, so to must they occur in the lives of your characters. With each chapter you write, ask yourself, “WHAT CAN GO WRONG?” Then let that happen. These hiccups to your characters can be something as small as “the dog escaping the house as they lock up on the way to an important meeting” to something infinitely more troublesome such as “becoming a murder suspect.”

These situations can prolong the conflict. The added tension will help increase reader interest, and the smaller interruptions can lend both believability and likability to your characters. So, the next time something aggravates you, or doesn’t go the way you want it to, ask yourself what your character would do in a similar situation. How would they handle it?

What are some of your favorite situations gone wrong?

1 comment:

Sarah Foster said...

Yes, it's great when things go wrong for our characters, not so great when it happens to us.