I’ll let everyone in on a secret – I absolutely loathe confrontation. I’m the girl curled up in a ball on the sofa when characters are arguing on television. So my first manuscripts centered around nice, average people who always did the right thing. Because that’s the life I like to have – full of nice, thoughtful, and caring people. Doesn’t everyone want that?
Doesn’t anyone want a realistic story about average, happy people? Do former Navy SEALS lurk in every cubicle? Is my pharmacist a werewolf? Don’t people get tired of reading about people who are always in danger? I posed that last question to my closest friend recently, and her answer was simple.
In the past month I’ve been working on my story-telling skills and learning about character objectives, conflict, and confrontation. And boy have I learned. While the stakes don’t always have to be physical death, giving my characters a definable goal, other than simply falling in love, helps build the conflict. Letting the suspense and tension build and then tapping into their emotions has lent sparks to their personalities and relationships.
However, given my argument aversion and my rather routine life, I’m concerned about my ability to build that conflict. I’ve never met a Navy SEAL, much less a werewolf (and my pharmacist just retired). Then I realized that I don’t have to.
I had an incredibly routine life for the first 30 years, and I’ve had a staid life for the last 12. But those “missing” years between 30 and 35 looked a little too much like a Jerry Springer show. How bad was it? At some point, I was having dinner with a guy who had dumped me (again) and his new girlfriend — and my date was his best friend. It did not go well.
My characters can have happy lives before we meet them and after their story ends, but they’re going to have to suffer a bit in the middle.
Now I’m busily creating, churning, and documenting my characters’ inner turmoil – capturing the absolute worst moments of their lives to date — and having loads more fun writing it. The story continues to improve – I hope you all eventually get to read it.
Have fun this month!