April 9, 2021– Today, we’re talking about pushing the envelope with your characters as we continue to explore our theme this month! But what does this all mean? Here are a few ways to stack the odds against your character and challenge them to reach their potential in your writing.
- Increase the stakes. There’s no better way to keep your reader on the edge of their seat rather than putting your character into a life-or-death situation. For children’s books, we must be mindful of threatening situations, but the rest of the genres are fair game. Perhaps the main character is in a car accident, and their car plunges off a bridge and into a river. Maybe your character comes face to face with a stranger who gives them an ultimatum, or perhaps they have to fight their way out of a dire situation that requires physical and mental stamina. However you choose to up the stakes, make sure you’re making them relevant to the story.
- Take a risk. What are the risks that your character needs to take, and how can you make them even riskier? Think of the best-selling book by Stephen King, IT. We know that Georgie took a risk and followed his paper boat down the flooded streets and into the sewer, where he was greeted by a sinister, homicidal, supernatural clown. This is an integral part of the story that sets the tone and without the risk of Georgie following his boat, the book certainly wouldn’t have come to life. And if we think of all the additional risks the characters take to defeat IT; their challenges make for an incredible journey of triumph over evil.
- Back them into a corner. You should always back your characters into a corner while writing because it allows your reader to relate to them. We’ve all experienced what feels like impossible situations at times, but the good news is, we have survived 100% of our bad days. If you can make your reader care about your characters, they’ll care about your book. Backing your characters into corners can include situations like not having money to pay the bills, a threat of eviction, being fired, and experiencing a breakup all at the same time. When you get your reader to sympathize with your character and root for them (whether good or bad), you’ve done your job as a writer. It also allows your readers to see that anything is possible, any situation can be overcome (one way or another), and the strength of the human spirit. Give your readers hope that they too can get out of tricky situations.
Push the envelope and find out what your characters are made of! Happy Writing X LLB