WHY MY BAD DAY IS LIKE A GOOD CHARACTER

WHY MY BAD DAY IS LIKE A GOOD CHARACTER

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There’s a technique novelists use to plot. They chase their characters up a tree and throw rocks at them or the old adage “when in doubt, make it worse.” Writers use this when they think perhaps their scenes are becoming predictable or boring. Make life worse for the character.

This week I understand the poor character’s dilemma.Three major appliances failed. My dishwasher motor gave up. The washing machine has a bad bearing and is rapidly failing. It is so loud I can hear it through two doors. And, of course, the microwave oven needs a new megatron. Bad enough?

The next day my tax accountant called and said, “You have a huge tax bill this year.” We’re talking thousands of dollars. By the way, I am not a wealthy woman. Then this morning I got a call and someone from Houston is opening accounts in my name. That is what I call making it worse for your characters.

Create obstacles

While my obstacles are real and I’m not likely to win the lottery to pay for all these things, authors can create obstacles and make things worse for characters. Making their day worse means creating situations which increase the difficulty the protagonist faces in reaching his or her goal.

What if your protagonist feels fear and anger because he doesn’t have the money to pay the government more taxes and has a new baby in the house. He needs that washing machine.  The characters may feel anger like I did today when I discovered I had to pay additional taxes I feel are already too high. But I’d almost rather have the huge tax bill than know an identity thief is out there running up bills in my name.

We create problems for our protagonists in order to solve problems in our scenes.

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With compelling problems characters may struggle to solve them and that’s more interesting for the reader. What if the protagonist doesn’t have enough money to pay the taxes? What is he to do? Will his wages be garnished? Will he be forced to work two jobs? What if he decides to steal to get the money? All problems with decisions he must make. However, the character must struggle for us to stay interested.

Today, I placed a call to my stockbroker and sold stock in order to pay taxes. I then went to the police station and filed a police report about identity theft. Oh and I signed up for lifelock. Not very interesting if you’re reading about a character, but I’m not that kind of character.

 What was your worse day or week? Share your thoughts.

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7 thoughts on “WHY MY BAD DAY IS LIKE A GOOD CHARACTER

  1. Ruby – I have not met you but you have a great attitude about everything that happened. I can see where Anne get’s her thoughtfulness and calming nature about life.

    Like

  2. Ruby, what a string of bad luck! You are due for three GOOD things! I hope the police catch the culprit who used your identity.

    When we write our characters into a corner, we know we’ll help them out of it, but when it’s real life, the results aren’t always happy. I sympathize with you.

    Like

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