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
April 2, 2021-This month we’ll be talking about pushing the envelope in your writing. What does that mean exactly? It means that without pushing boundaries, we’ll never find out how far we can go with our work.
By pushing the envelope in your writing, I’m not talking about putting in gratuitous explicit scenes, or excessive swear words, or shock and awe factors that do not move the story forward; I’m talking about putting your characters in new situations, changing up your writing style, writing in different genres, and exploring new themes. As we explore these ideas, one at a time, let’s start with putting your characters into new situations and what that can entail by using a well known story, Goldilocks and the Three Bears. What do we know about the fairy tale? We know that a little girl ventures into the forest and stumbles upon a cottage to explore. She pushes open the door and finds 3 bowls of porridge on the table: one hot, one cold, and one just right. She eats the porridge and then ventures further into the cabin. She goes to a bedroom where there are 3 beds, one too hard, one too soft, and one just right and the story continues. So how can we change this up and push the envelope? We’ll put together a brief synopsis at the end of this exercise.
- New location-The original story takes place in the woods. By switching up the location, you can create a whole new spin on a classic. Picture this, Goldie is a 25-year-old living on her own in a penthouse in New York City that overlooks Central Park.
- New profession-Goldilocks was a little girl in the original book (but perhaps what’s more interesting is that the original story was written with an ugly, old woman as the main character who had been cast out of her community because she’s a thief, liar, and derelict), but using the track we’re on with her being a 25-year-old living in New York, we’ll make her a stockbroker. She works on wall street with three of her closest colleagues that she’s affectionately nicknamed The Three Bears.
- New spin-Goldilocks and the Three Bears was a story written as a fairy tale for children. You could push the envelope in your writing by turning the classic into something completely different such as a horror, thriller, or mystery.
Goldie Walker has everything she’s ever wanted; a great job making tons of money, a penthouse with a view of the park, and an active social life in the most exciting city in the world. One late September evening she returns home after drinks and finds the door to her apartment has been left slightly ajar. She enters the front room and sees a trail of blood leading to her bedroom. She reaches for the light when suddenly she’s grabbed from behind and silenced with a blow to the head. She awakes bloody and swollen hours later with no recollection of what happened. She stumbles to her room to find that the wall safe has been broken into and her late grandmother’s ten carat emerald necklace has been stolen. The only thing that remains is a note that reads, returned to their rightful owner, you have 24 hours to contact us before we kill your thieving brother. Goldie must enlist the help of her friends to unravel the mystery of who robbed her, why, and what her brother has to do with it all.
Push yourself. Explore new takes on old stories and in your writing because you never know where it could lead!