Day 17: Giving Your Characters a Hard Time

Day 17 and the goal for word count is 28,333. I hope you're keeping up. I slipped back by 667 words yesterday, but I'll make it up today.

By now you may be feeling like your story is getting out of hand, is playing everything just right, or you're falling in the middle. Sometimes your characters comply and sometimes they show you sides you didn't know they even had. No matter what they're doing, if you want to make your novel interesting, I hope you're giving your characters a hard time.

My daughter is doing the NaNoWriMo Young Writers Program this year. She's eight and had a story she wanted to tell of a girl in the woods with her siblings. Other than that basic information, she didn't know what to do with the story. Here's what I told her:

Think about what you want your character to do. What is their goal? Know that about your main character, get familiar with them.Think of how they will acheive their goal and what they want to do about it. Then, you as the author, make it difficult for the main character to do this. This may mean the character needs to change their goals, or do something else before they can acheive their primary goal. Whatever it is, make it hard for them, but not impossible.

For example, last night my main character, Elsbeth, needed to escape from having been kidnapped. I wanted her to slip out the window. Done. There's her goal.

Instead of letting it be that easy, however, I wrote her peeking to see if the coast was clear one last time, and this time the antagonist, Hopkins, is standing in the doorway and lunges after her. She still makes her escape (that is the plot afterall), but this way there was a lot more tension, action, and drama than originally planned.

If you're thinking your plot is going blah-ville or your characters are just milling about, then it might be time to shake things up for them and make getting from A to B a rougher road.

What's the worst you've done to your characters to give them a hard time?

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