Thursday, September 8, 2011

Seriously? I mean...Really?

I wrote a whole post about how my dinner spilled under the oven and now my house smells like a warm dairy, my wash machine breaking down (no clean undies is a terrible thing), and how my mouse died (the computer mouse, not a real one).

But then I erased it, because I realized something.

Bad things happen to people.

Bad things happen to characters.

I have a scene where my main character gets into trouble, but her consquences aren't that bad. (have you heard the saying, once your character gets stuck in the tree, start throwing rocks at them...or something like that?) When your character is in a bad situation, make it worse.When your character thinks they are okay, make something happen.

Well, my character got in the tree and there really weren't enough rock throwings. Meaning, I have to make her consequences real. Right now...they aren't so bad. I have to take aim and make the situation...um...worse.

This will bring more emotions to the scene and keep the reader into the story.

So today my goal is to pull out the oven and scrub the floor, buy a new mouse, and get my throwing arm ready to sling some lemons, or rocks, or something like that.

What about you? How do you make the consequences worse for your characters? (Stinkin' smelly kitchen...you are so getting the evil eye!)

30 comments:

Shannon O'Donnell said...

I am working on that right now, actually. I tend to be too kind to my characters--booooring. :-)

ali cross said...

Oh man! That's yuck! But i totally get the writing lesson in there. I'm the same way - I always have to back in and try to make things harder for my characters. :P

Good luck with the scrubbing and the rocks!

Shari said...

I think that's a pretty common thing, not only smelling up the kitchen, but trying to make things harder for the characters.

Jen Daiker said...

First off, that's gross and very unlucky.

Secondly, with the amount of time my characters spend staying silent, stomping their feet, or throwing a fit I've got a pile of snowballs (I don't want to kill them, maybe just lose a toe due to frost bite) ready to aim. When they irritate me I notate it for later. After all, the hell they put me through is bound to come back. Oh yea, there is karma for characters.

Jen Daiker said...

PS - I tweeted this because it was that awesome...

Elana Johnson said...

Sorry about the kitchen! That's stinks, literally.

And yes, the action has to get worse and worse. I don't know how I do this, and sometimes I'm not very good at it. Mostly I grope around in the dark, and then wonder at how I finished a book.

Summer Ross said...

Poor mouse! I hope you find one that fits your hand- it will be new and improved!

Sorry about the kitchen.

Throwing things at characters- I'm still working that out LOL

Angie said...

Yuck. Sorry about all that stuff. Life can really throw it at you sometimes. Pretty much the same principle for the characters. I am so totally MEAN to them. (It's great.)

Kathryn Magendie said...

I read real mouse at first and said 'awww--oh" *laughing*

I wonder if I'm throwing enough rocks! ...

Lynda R Young said...

aw, so not good!

I'm sure my characters hate me because I do mean things like that to them at the worst possible moments hehehe.

salarsenッ said...

Yup, that's what Ray Bradbury said. This is so true. And the real gift is that you recognized it. Heart U! Thanks for sharing it with me.

Susan Fields said...

I spent a large part of today working on this very thing. I'm plotting a new novel, asking myself in every situation "what can go wrong here? how can I make it worse?" You're right - that's what makes it exciting.

J.R. Johansson said...

Ugh...kind of a sucky day, huh? Yeah, I tend to torture my characters. I'm really afraid someday I'll get sucked into an alternate Universe where they get to write MY story.

*shivers*

Carolyn Abiad said...

How many rocks is enough? Is it ever enough? Do we just keep throwing until someone yells edit?

Lynn said...

Warm dairy? Yikes! I'm kind of a three girl--give them three elevating obstacles then some reprieve. When reading, if the author goes too far on the obstacles, I start to do the 'eye roll.' Sometimes authors got to give the reader a break!!

Mary Campbell said...

Yes - slap on the pain. I'm sorry you were having a rough day. It's true though we may not like to hear people go on and on about their problems, but a character with no problems is a boring character indeed.

Patti said...

Maybe try picking up larger stones. Hopefully your bad days are behind you.

Jolene Perry said...

Make it real, and then push it a little higher.

Jennifer Shirk said...

Oh pooh on the smell. :(

Isn't it funny how characters take things like that and handle it so much better and with so much more fun than real life? LOL

Janet Johnson said...

I try to think "What is the worst possible thing that could happen here?" And then do it. My poor characters. :)

And sorry about the dairy. I know that smell all too well. (Can we say spoiled milk in sippy cups?)

Medeia Sharif said...

I believe I torture my MC's. Makes the story better. ;)

Good luck with your writing and household goals. Yikes @ the dairy smell.

Shelley Sly said...

You have a great point! I'm working on making sure I turn "bad" to "worse" in my stories, otherwise it's just not as interesting.

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

Sorry about the household issues. I've found that all the junk in my life finds its way to my blog or my characters...

L.T. Elliot said...

Sorry for the tough day but I'm glad your character will have a tougher one!

Al said...

I'm pretty violent to my characters.
Shootings, stabbings, broken bones.

Bethany K. Mattingly said...

I'm worried I don't have enough rocks being thrown at a particular character but my word count is maxed out. This is why I love my CP's I'm hoping they can clear some things up for me and help me make it work.

Kathi Oram Peterson said...

Great advice. Always keep your protagonist squirming. I'll keep a bucket of rocks handy. ;)

Emily Anderson said...

I sometimes struggle with throwing rocks at my characters. I'm okay putting them in the tree, but then I feel the need to fix their problems instead of making them worse. I'm going to remember that advice next time I'm ready to rescue them.

Creepy Query Girl said...

that is a really great thing to keep in mind in order to up the tension! Great post! and good luck with your scrubbing!:)

Lola Sharp said...

Oh no. I'm so sorry about all the aggravations. Not having a washing machine with 5 (FIVE!) kids and 2 adults is NOT a good thing. That alone must be stressful. *huggles*

And yeah, continue to raise the stakes and burn your characters homes to the ground...break their bones and hearts. You gotta be ruthless with your MCs. *insert evil cackle* But they always prevai (ish) in the end, so it's really not so bad.

I hope the rest of your week is MUCH better and easier.

Hugs,
Lola