Bad Things Must Happen
Contributor
Written by
Chrys Fey
May 2013
Contributor
Written by
Chrys Fey
May 2013

The first rule that I greatly believe in when I am writing is that you must let bad things happen to your characters, especially the protagonist.

Did you just start hyperventilating? Do you think I’m a cruel writer?

Take a slow, deep breath. I know how much you love your characters. They are a part of you. You ripped them from your subconscious, from the greater parts of your being. You want to cuddle them in your arms like you would a new born baby, because sometimes creating a character feels equivalent to giving birth or siring a child. You want to protect them in your writing. You want to keep the big, bad antagonist away from them. You’ve read books where the author puts their characters through something terrible. You shake your head and think, “I could never do that!”

I get it! Believe me, I do!

In our real lives bad things happen to us. We would never choose to let these things happen if we had the choice. But sometimes we have no control over the things that happen, like a cancer diagnosis, a car accident that wasn’t our fault, or a job layoff. However, we do have control over what happens to our characters, and while you may want to shield them, make them happy, and only let good things happen to them, that isn’t life. Does it sound like your life? Are you always happy? Do only good things happen to you? I would bet not!

It is important to make your stories realistic to life, which means bad things must happen to your characters! This may be difficult at first, but once you ponder your story idea for a while you’ll start to think of some not-so-happy situations that could happen in your book and some bad things that could happen to your characters. The important thing is to know what you’re going to do to help the characters grow from it, and how they can use it to conquer the antagonist or reach their goal.

Anne Lamott says, “You are probably going to have to let bad things happen to some of the characters you love or you won’t have much of a story.”

 

QUESTIONS: Do you agree or disagree with this writing rule? What is something bad that you will let happen (or have let happen) to one of your characters in your writing?

 

Originally posted on Write With Fey

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