Monday, August 9, 2010
Truth or Dare
Many of us here are fiction writers. We create people. We place them in stressful situations. Our creations lie, cheat, steal, make love. They embarrass us, make us laugh, make us cry.
Or they should.
If our characters don't make us experience their emotions when we write them, they won't make a reader feel them either. In order for our characters to come to life, we can give them deep dark secrets and make sure they show us the truth.
Let's call our character Lucy. Is Lucy afraid of failure?
If so, have her tell us, Show us in something she does. Maybe she doesn't put in for a promotion because she's afraid she'll mess up and lose her job. Maybe she pushes others away because she's scared of failing in a relationship. Show us how she feels.
The reader needs to be able to smell her sweat, taste her tears, feel the pounding of her heart, her frustration, her fear.
But the real truth comes from the writer. We have to be true to ourselves. We must be unafraid to explore these emotions and set our characters free to experience them. Sometimes this requires us to dig deep. If we don't bare our emotions, our characters fall short.
After you've shown us Lucy's truth, dare her to try something new. Something important. Something she must try and can't fail doing without severe consequences. Force it on her.
Take her emotions and whip them into overdrive. She won't comply willingly. Narrow her options until she has no other choice. Watch her squirm.
Truth or Dare.