Hello everyone!

So, thank God it’s Friday, first and foremost. My program in NYC is going great but let me just say what a relief it is to have the weekend to relax a bit? I tend to carry whatever work I need to do around on my back so forcing myself away from the environment helps a lot to lift the stress from my shoulders. I went to Time Square with the roomie today, which was awesome and a little overwhelming with all of the lights and sounds and, yes, definitely the press of people all around.

And now that I’m back in the dorms and getting ready for bed, I thought it would be cool to write another blog post. So this led me to this topic that I’ve been thinking about for a while now: which is, violating your character’s worldview.

The snarky part of me wants to say that this is so obvious, but I’ve read plenty of books – bad books – where this doesn’t happen. But what it all boils down to is this:

Every story is the same in one key way: character is living “normal” life (whatever constitutes normal for them), “normal” is violated through outside forces (even if the shift is internal), and character must pick up the pieces and create a new “normal” from the rubble of the old.

So how does this look in terms of story? A good example would be:

Girl is going to high school. Girl stumbles into a magical building that traps her inside. Girl finds out all kinds of weird things that sinks her deeper and deeper into this magical world. Girl finally gets out, but is forever changed. Now girl looks at everything in a different light.

You can substitute “boy” in there and also “magical building” into pretty much anything else you want. The point is that the change is unexpected and the consequences suck the character (and the reader) deeper into the story. By the end, even if she returns to “normal,” she is forever changed. So normal can be alien at this point – everything is different.

The reason I think this is an important point to make is that I feel as if writers don’t always push their characters hard enough. A lot of time, people think “This plot is awesome! I’ll just make up any old character to experience it but my focus should be on this awesome plot!” Except I think it’s the complete opposite: I don’t think the plot chooses the character, I think the character chooses the plot. It isn’t what happens to a character that is fascinating, it is how that character reacts in that particular situation that makes the story interesting.

A character must be pushed to her limits, must experience life at its most difficult in order to grow and become someone entirely changed and more interesting by the end (otherwise why bother reading?). If you could cut her out and paste someone completely different and have the story be exactly the same in both instances, there is something wrong. Harry Potter the story would have been completely different if, say, Draco Malfoy was the main character. If you were to put his character in the same position as Harry and have the same things happen to him, he would react differently, it would have gone in a completely different direction.

So whatever your story is, stop for a second and ask yourself this question. Why is all of this happening to your main character? What is it about this journey that is going to test her? What key challenge must she overcome? And is she really the strongest character for this role that you have given her – or is it too easy?