Wednesday, July 31, 2013

MAKE YOUR CHARACTER'S LIFE HARD by Rita Karnopp

I am determined not to be easy on my characters.  I want them to struggle, be challenged, hurt, feel rewarded, and to become better people in the end.  I don’t want them to face just one problem or situation . . . is life ever that easy?  Well, then – toss the frying pan at them!  Not only the pan – but the hot grease that was in it!

Know your genre and what you can or cannot do within its parameters.  Know what problems your characters can have in that genre and don’t make it easy.  I’m of the belief you should never make your story similar to one you read years ago – with a couple of new twists.  Be strong and independent and develop a plot that is fresh and new.  Create serious problems and goals that will be vital even imperative in propelling your story forward.  Make it dynamic and page turning.

CHARACTER MOTIVATION – We all know it’s our characters internal and external conflicts and struggles that moves them toward success and satisfaction and away from failure, so ask yourself:

• Are my main characters moving toward success or away from failure? Or both?
• What is the reward for success?
• What is the driving motivation for success?

I will tell you this – it’s more than just saving ducks from an oil spill.  You must dig deep . . . really deep and create a character that your reader will care about.  What are the hero’s core beliefs, his purpose, and his goals in life?  What are his flaws, failures, fears, and what impedes him from reaching success?

Once we understand our character . . . we can help him move toward his goals at a much deeper level.  Share with the reader what is going on inside for internal conflict and develop strong external conflict that will take us with him . . . root for him . . . cry and laugh with him . . . and in the end cheer for him.

INSERT VICISSITUDES – Say what?  Yep … cool word . . . meaning changes, variations, vagaries, fluctuations, and deviations!  In other words cliffhangers.  They really spice up a sagging story by adding something surprising, startling, astonishing, or sudden.  This will keep the reader interested?

Be sure to create an incident that the reader truly isn’t sure whether or not things will work out.  Leave the reader asking, “what will happen.”  You want them saying, “I didn’t expect that.  Now how will he ever escape that . . . or make her fall in love with him now?”

Some classic cliffhangers include:

• a deadline or else
• jumping to conclusions

• the interruption – side-tracking the truth

• loose ends

There should never be a place in your book that a reader might say, “Well, this is a good place to stop.”  You must keep your reader wonder what could possibly happen next, so that he/she won’t be able to put the book down.

It has to naturally flow with the plot and not be manipulated – the reader will pick up on it and toss the book across the room.  You are generating expectations and even hope in the reader. You will have to satisfy this expectation or anticipation at some point.

Be prepared to resolve the story plot and show resolution.  There must  be a gradual – satisfying ending for the book.  Never get there too quickly or the plot will come to a screeching halt.  It’s all about pacing and bringing your reader to the end feeling happy, surprised, and satisfied.

INTENSIFY THE MAIN EXTERNAL CONFLICT – Although your story will have many twists and turns – starting your story with a gripping predicament is only the first step.  You have to give your reader many incidents, conflicts, and surprises.  Each new crisis must bring you closer and closer to the main conflict – the underlying plot – and reason your character is on this quest.  Each minor struggle must in a way develop the story and enhance the resolution of the main external conflict.

Don’t feel bad about making your character’s life hard.  I’ll agree it’s arduous to put your characters through pain, heartache, loss, and even suffering.  You know it has to happen . . . the story is screaming for it to happen – and you must give it what it wants.  Allow your characters to feel . . . react . . . and resolve the main story plot – or conflict.  It will be a deep injustice to you and your reader if you don’t.

4 comments:

ainaa khan said...

I was very pleased to find this site.I wanted to thank you for this great read I definitely enjoying every little bit of it and I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you post.
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Rita Karnopp said...

Ainaa . . .thank you so much for your comments ... we are pleased to have you here with us! :) Rita

Krista Quintana said...

Great post and fantastic advice! It's always nice to know HOW to add conflict, not just know that you need to. I had a recent post on this as well. Would love to have you take a look. http://kristaquintana.blogspot.com/2013/08/no-pain-no-gain.html

Rita Karnopp said...

I checked out your blog ... .loved the article. thanks for your comment ... I left you a message as well. Rita

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