Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Sky Turned Black

Somewhere along the journey of writing a story, you fall in love with your characters... or at least, you SHOULD. They become like children or best friends to you. They live in your head and become SO real that they nearly tell the story themselves. But quite sadly, the downside to this miracle of writing is, once we fall in love with our characters, sometimes it becomes difficult to do something that is absolutely necessary.

In order for a story to be worth telling, a character must overcome an obstacle that has the potential to ruin the life they have sought for themselves. Anything less that this is boring. It's like... "Sally Sue lived with her perfectly nice mother and father in a beautiful house. One day, she met Danny Doug. Danny Doug was very nice and they spent lots of time together on nice little outings. Sally Sue and Danny Doug fell in love and got married. The end."

Seriously... lots of pretty words... but not a story that will keep us on the edge of our seat completely enthralled. It's boring, no matter how "nice" it is. It's just not a worthwhile story! What Sally Sue needs is a problem!!!

If you have a Sally Sue character, you may have fallen in love with her as a character and the idea of trowing something bad into her life may horrify you. You may have to separate her and Danny Doug, or maybe one of them gets a horrible disease! Gosh, that may upset you. But part of being a writer is creating characters that the reader can identify with. Your readers have problems in their lives and when they see a character who goes through a similar circumstance and overcomes, they feels strengthened and encouraged. Isn't that the whole point of a story? Reading something that makes you feel good?

This is why a Black moment is so necessary. It puts the character in a place where they must make a choice, a place where they learn something, or a place where they must reach beyond themselves in order to overcome. THIS is good reading! Readers love this! So let's go back to Sally Sue and see if we can give her a moment where the sky on her pretty little life seems to turn completely black and she almost looses hope. It'll be fun! I promise!

"If anyone in the town of Littleburg looked at the life of Sally Sue, they would have thought she lived the perfect life. Everything about her seemed wonderful... her parents, her house, she even had met the perfect man, Danny Doug. But all was not so well as it seemed. Sally Sue's family had a secret. Mr. Sue was a murderer! Sally kept this secret all to herself. She feared that Danny might not want her if he ever found out. But one day, on her way home from a nice outing with Danny, Sally overheard her Dad plotting to murder Danny too! She had to warn Danny, even if she never saw him again, his life mattered above all else.

"So Sally went to Danny's house and begged him to believe her. He thought she was joking. But Sally couldn't let anything bad happen to Danny. When she saw her Dad sneaking out that night, she followed him all the way to Danny's house. She got in through the back door and placed herself in front of Danny's bedroom door. Her dad came up the stairs with the knife poised and began to lower his weapon, aiming for Sally's chest. but then the light from the moon dipped on Sally's face and her dad froze. Her dropped the knife and ran out of the house. Sally called the police and they caught Mr. Sue on his way back to the perfect little house. Danny was safe. The end."

THAT is called a good story. Did you catch the black moment there? It makes all the difference in the story. When Sally Sue risks her life and her chance at living happily ever after with Danny - that's what makes her a character we admire and care about.

Try a black moment in your story, even if it means upsetting your character you love so much.

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