Dangerous Writing

No one thought writing could be dangerous. They were all wrong.

Well, okay, the actual writing shouldn’t be dangerous for the author, but it should be dangerous for the main character. Very, very dangerous.

When I say this to some writers, I get a look that says, “I don’t write THOSE kinds of stories.” Well you should! Here’s why:

A story is how a character faces danger. Your main character has to have a goal, whether it’s a long-term or a short-term goal. Whatever keeps your character from getting this goal is an obstacle. In trying to get around the obstacle, the character is in danger of being overcome by the obstacle. Therefore, your character faces danger.

Any type of book, from romance, to fantasy, to western needs to have obstacles for the main character to overcome.

For example, you might have a handmaid who wishes to marry the prince, but she knows that if she expresses her love for him, she’ll be kicked out of the castle. Since she has no family to live with, she’d be out on the streets. So, her dreams must remain her own. The handmaid’s goal specifically might be to have a better life than her parents did. Her danger is getting thrown back into the same lifestyle that her parents lived in. She faces danger of discovery every time she sees the prince. And what if someone — a rival — found out about her secret love and intentionally tried to foil our precious little handmaid? What if the prince was a womanizer to begin with and our handmaid found herself betrayed, possibly pregnant? What if the queen found out the handmaid was pregnant and she wanted another child and offered to buy the babe from the handmaid — enough to make sure the handmaid is herself treated like royalty for the rest of her life. Could the handmaid give the queen her baby and let the child be raised as the prince’s sibling instead of his child?

While none of this puts the handmaid in an immediate life or death struggle, the handmaid is facing danger at every turn. You don’t have to write the shoot-’em-up high action stories to have danger. But when you stop asking yourself what pebbles are in the road to keep your characters from getting their goals and start thinking of it more as “what danger are they facing?” your story develops with more tightness. It’s not just a random event any more. It’s a real threat. And it makes the “What if” game more fun to play. I thought of my sample above on the fly, but as I was writing it, I saw the plot start to take shape. It’s fun crafting the story.

If you want to read more about how to create danger for your character and see more examples of how to do this as well as learn how to tighten other elements of your story, please check out my book, The Write Edit. You can order it right from my Morning Sky Studios website for under $10. Don’t forget about your other writing friends too! It would make a great Christmas gift for those authors in your life.

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