By Keith N Fisher
To those who read my blog each week: I’m sorry. I got caught up in stuff and didn’t post last week. It’s the first time I’ve missed, but I feel like a flake.
I took a turning point chapter to critique group this week. It was one of those, put your character in peril so they can overcome, type of things, but it wasn’t strong enough. After getting feedback about the writing, I asked my group what they thought. Should I make it stronger? Does the character need more peril?
The next several minutes were spent bouncing plot twist ideas off each other and I came away with a renewed sense of purpose. I was reminded of the old axiom, coined by others, in act one, put your characters in a tree. Act two, throw rocks at your character. Act three, get your character out of the tree.
I once heard Josi Killpack add more to it. She suggested that we throw rocks and set fire to the tree. We shouldn't be in a hurry to get our characters out of peril because it doesn’t give them a chance to grow, and it isn’t believable.
I’m also reminded of how this relates to real life. Every one of us has problems. I prefer to call them trials because overcoming them helps us grow. Eventually, passing through enough trials will help us be the people God intended us to be.
After critique, I began to think of myself as a sadist who enjoys putting my beloved characters into terrible circumstances. Then I remembered the axiom above. If I want to write a great book, I must turn on the heat of tribulations. I’m not sadistic, I’m a loving creator.
May you have the courage to be cruel to your characters. Help your protagonists grow, but go easy on the antagonists.
Good luck with your writing---see you next week.