Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Tuesday Tidbits: Rock Your Character's World

This is the second installment in the series I began 3 Tuesdays ago entitled Keep Yer Pants On, Plot By Numbers. You are welcome to visit the last two posts to see where I'm headed with this series... Post 1 and Post 2.

Today, I'm talking about Rocking Your Character's World.
We discussed Grabbing Your Reader By The Nose. Great first line and first paragraph. Hook the reader in and get them emotionally involved... and then BAM!! Your character's world gets turned upside down (which draws the reader in even more).

Her home is destroyed.
She finds out that her husband of ten years is gay.
She is thrust into a death match.
She finds an irresistible boy standing in her living room, with no idea where he came from or how to keep from kissing him.
She discovers that the boy she has crushed on since 7th grade finally notices her, but it's because he's a vampire and he needs to feed off her.

You get the idea.

From my WIP Caenus: Caenus is forced by his father to compete in the same grueling games that claimed the lives of his older brothers.

From my WIP *Yet Untitled*: Winged beasts attack a boys mother. But then he discovers that she was never his mother and he is now hunted by powerful Gods who want to kill him and his siblings who he's never met.

The conflict has to be substantial enough that the reader doesn't say "ehhh, whatever" and has to be believable... at least as it pertains to the genre (no alien antags in an historical romance). And the consequences of the catastrophe must Raise. The. Stakes. (where have we all heard that before?)
Yes, the stakes need to be raised to a level where the reader doesn't say, "so what?"

The crisis must be something that your protag can't solve easily, because the challenge of solving it sets the story in motion. This event may send your character on a quest or mission... even if the mission is to discover themselves. 

There should also be internal and external conflicts. Your character's flaws and nuances will inform how they react to the external conflict, but it's through the internal conflict that they grow. Yep, remember the *promise* you made to the reader in the opening... you promised the reader that the character would grow. And it's through the solving of the conflict that she will do this.

I hope this was informative. Feel free to add to this in the comments. It's an open forum.
Stay tuned for next Tuesday's Tidbits: Hit Your Character In The mouth... A Few Times.