29 September 2013

So Close, Yet So Far Away

Continuing along the vein of #BeMeanToCharacters, I was thinking about other ways in which authors could/should do this.

We’ve already established that characters should have bad days and they should have to face their fears. Sometimes they should fail miserably. Sometimes they get to win. Sometimes their fears should propel them to worse things than they ran from before.

But today I’d like to delve into a different realm.

What about ALMOST giving them what they want?

I mean really, how does it feel when you get within striking distance of your dream, and it gets snatched away from you? Ask anyone who’s played in a championship sports game. Especially if it was a good game, and their team lost at the last minute to some crazy Hail Mary play that actually worked.

Talk about not cool. And talk about mean!

You see? Are you with me? Let them get close. Let them taste it. Then, snatch it away! With viscous glee. Then let the readers see them cry. Not always literally cry, but have the characters go over the edge.

How do you feel when you get so close to something, then lose it? Amp that up about three times, which is how the reader will connect with the character, and go for it.

Think of My Best Friend’s Wedding. The main character doesn’t get what she wants. And the story is better for it. She’s better for it, but for a while, she’s sure it is the end of her life.

Even in The Fellowship of the Ring, when the Hobbits get to Rivendell. They think they’re safe and will be able to return to the Shire…but NOOOooo. Some crazy heroes decide they need a Hobbit, and the rest of the story ensues.

Both Cool Runnings and The Cutting Edge also display this kind if disappointment. These are used as drivers to propel the rest of the story. Just one way to do it.

This isn’t super easy to pull off, but it’s really effective. Dangle the carrot, then snatch it away. Or turn the carrot around to reveal that it isn’t a carrot, but a three headed monster that wants to eat your socks for lunch…with your feet still in them.

This is just one more way to #BeMeanToCharacters!

Carry on, everyone.

1 comment:

Anthony Dutson said...

The 'almost' kiss is a big one too. But, as I learned, if you do it wrong, it can come off as cliche.