Ever since I read a quote from a blogger who said that blogging had changed him (but gave no indication how), I’ve wondered if I can point to any differences in myself as a result of my slogging through almost two years of writing blog posts. At this point I’d say no changes are clear. However, as much as I stay the same after writing these personal essays, I am certain that writing fiction will cause a change.
Fiction that isn’t an author’s personal adventure into the frightening or the unknown isn’t worth writing for anything but money. (writer Jonathan Franzen)
I saved this quote because it represents one of my biggest challenges in trying to create interesting main characters and plot. It’s not easy to read about the suffering of fictional characters, their miserable childhoods, teenage temptations or tragedies, fraying or dissolved marriages, bouts of depression, losses of loved ones, conflicts with the law, struggles with failure, or their humiliations. But it’s easier to read about someone else’s invented characters than to write about the sufferings of my own. Putting a character born in your own imagination through such horrors is excruciating. I want to protect them. To create memorable characters and stories it’s as if you have to put yourself through hell along with them.
The reader expects that the protagonist will be forced to confront things he’s probably spent his entire life avoiding. (screenwriter and author Lisa Cron)
Exactly the problem I’m facing. Years ago a friend and I agreed that we would try to live our lives according to the motto, “Never lose face.” While I haven’t been especially successful in living up to that motto, you get the idea that I’m not one who’s spent a lot of time looking for adventure, risks, or danger in life. Imagine then how difficult it is to make my character face all these things. My villain caused her to lose face in the first scene. I haven’t yet fully developed her or the bad guys, because I’m still protecting them. I ‘ve set up barriers between them and certain situations they must face to keep the story interesting, situations I, personally, would avoid. And now I have to break down the barriers. I know when I finally do, I will be stepping into frightening territory in which my character will become more vulnerable and I will have to join her.