Monday, August 12, 2013

No Pain, No Gain

I am not an assertive person.  I can take almost anything without fighting back because I really want to avoid confrontation.

The only time that this is not true is when it’s about someone that I care about.  Someone can say something bad about me, but watch out if they say anything about my closest friends.  Boys who try to hurt my sisters better start running because I’m coming after them.  Though I’m not a mother, I have a feeling I’ll probably be overprotective with them as well.

I hate to see injustices.  To see others picked on when it’s not necessary.  It’s one of the reasons why I’m so terrible at sports.  I hate the fact that there has to be a loser.  During Junior High, we played soccer during lunch.  Whenever my team started winning, I switched to the other.  Why?  Because they needed help.  They were now the ones at a disadvantage.  There were some days that I would switch sides 8-9 times. 

So what does that have to do with writing?

Characters are like our babies.  We’ve created them, we’ve helped them become who they are.  Those are the kinds of people that I would do anything to protect.

But in protecting my characters, I end up hurting the story. 

No one wants to read about someone whose life is absolutely perfect.  We as readers want to see the characters suffer and rise above their struggles.  If they don’t have to overcome anything, then why should we care? 

That’s why we have to make our characters cry.  Not just small tears, but giant floods until they suffer from dehydration.  If the character goes too long before the next set of trials, we’re actually doing them a disservice.  We need to learn from our mistakes.  And to do that, we have to make mistakes.  We have to get out there, get our hands dirty and get our hearts broken. 

Really, that should be the way we live our lives as well.  Staying where it’s safe won’t hurt, but it won’t help us grow.  If I were to go back and focus on the moments where I grew as a human, where I became the person I am now, it would be in the moments of trials.  Those moments where I wasn’t sure if I could stand any more are what define me.  Not because of the trials that I experienced, but how I responded to them.

And that’s what our characters need.  We can’t protect them from everything.  They need the chance to get back up.  They need that opportunity to prove themselves, not just to themselves, but to us as readers. 

So although I may not enjoy causing pain, I get satisfaction out of knowing that I’m doing the right thing for my characters, and for my story.