We don’t like being messed around, so why do we do it to our characters?
We put our characters through a lot of pain. It’s just a thing that writers do, because without drama, there’s no story and with no story there’s no book. I could go on.
I’m writing something new (AT LAST!) and 2,200 words in, I realise how much I’ve done to my main character. As this is a sequel to my nanowrimo novel, the characters have already been through 50,000 words worth of arguments, pain, sadness and so on, so it was easy to throw them back into that world all over again.
The one line that really proves to me that we like causing characters pain was this one: “He murdered someone, tried to kill you and then shot your best friend. How can you call that a mistake?” – if that doesn’t show my characters suffering, what does?
Conflict is the most important element, I think, of novel writing. The characters would be boring if they spent 70,000 words being nice to each other. Make your characters argue, make your characters be upset (with each other, or a higher power if you like), make them hate each other. But at the same time, make them happy, make them love, make them talk about how much they like each other (just don’t over do it.) There’s a delicate balance.
My nanowrimo novel was a murder mystery which, quite obviously, involved a lot of conflict. Suspicions were thrown around, blackmail came into play and conflict was rife. This time around, there’s not going to be a murder, but you’ll bet there’s going to be conflict of some sort.
And why ever not? Three twenty-something men travelling around Europe having just spent three years at Cambridge is sure to throw up some conflict, isn’t it?
Let’s hope so!
Current word count: (it’s back! and new!) 2,274
Currently reading: Prater Violet – Christopher Isherwood, The Invention of Murder – Judith Flanders, We Danced All Night – Martin Pugh.