Forcing a character into a corner must be the theme of the month! I was talking to a few young writers about 'don't make it too easy for your character to succeed,' and I explained, my goal as a writer, is to force my main character into a do or die situation. Then later that week, I flipped through my current writer's magazine and came across the very concept - force your character into a corner.
So exactly what does that mean?
My writing goal is to create tough decision-making scenes with unsavory circumstances and awkward moments where my character is left examining his/her own wants and beliefs. How badly does my character want to succeed? How difficult I make the situation also discloses his capability or incapability to overcome the obstacle or threat. The higher the stakes, the sweeter the reward of success.
Every writer wants their hero or heroine to succeed. As the suspense builds, the character may oscillate or waffle with indecision, wanting to take the big step but fear or insecurity stands in their way. As long as the fear you as a writer have created, seems valid and real, the reader will keep turning the pages to see how the hero overcomes the situation. The choices the hero takes deepens the tension.
My hero was abused as a child. His biggest fear is he may turn into the abuser with his own children. So he stays away from them. But he soon realizes that is not living. He has to decide, will he overcome his past and become a part of his family? Or will he let his past over-rule his desires and become what he despises most? Whatever path he chooses leads to dire consequences. He doesn't know if he has the strength to become a loving father. It would be simpler to leave, and not let them know why he can't be with them. They would be safe. He would be lost forever. The stakes are very high for this man and his children. I forced my character to take a stand. He must decide what to do.
The subtle writer will build the tensions but not leave the hero suffering for too long. In other words, don't leave your character in the corner for long. Your readers will become impatient. Action is needed. What will your hero do to over-come his obstacle? What will move the story forward? How is your hero going to succeed? It's soul searching time. Your hero must move to bring about change. He must tear down each barrier that has locked him into the situation. Think of it as the phoenix rising from the ashes.
Your hero's decisions and actions will create the climax for your book. If you've done your best at creating a real drama, your ending will be just as rewarding. And your hero will be grinning from ear to ear that he chose the right path!
Your reader will sigh with relief and joy! And that's always a good thing!
Til next time ~
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