Monday, June 15, 2009

No, I'm Not a Sadist

I love torturing my characters.

What's more, I find that the books I enjoy most are the ones where the characters are tortured (sometimes figuratively rather than literally) by the author.

Some might say that makes me a sadist. Nope. Just a writer with a healthy respect for conflict.

In order to make an enjoyable and page-turning story, there needs to be a healthy amount of conflict. Most writers agree there should be conflict on every page. While that may be a little difficult to accomplish, depending on the genre you write, it is a good goal to strive for. Sure, you can have minor scenes along the way alleviating the tension, but until you reach the final climax, the goal of writing a novel should be to add tension as the story grows.

One of my favorite books in the 'In Death' series by J.D. Robb is Conspiracy in Death. *WARNING* Spoilers!!! In this book, Eve Dallas is faced with a murderer who will stop at nothing to prevent her from discovering who s/he is. As she and her team get closer to zeroing in the murderer, Eve has confrontations with an officer who has a vendetta against her. What she doesn't know is that the officer is a lackey for the murderer. Besides the arguments with the officer, Eve is also threatened by a droid owned by the murderer. When the officer is murdered and Eve is relieved from duty and emotionally crumbles, there's no way I'm putting that book down! While the end is still far, this climax in the middle of a book I've read several times always manages to suck me in to see what happens next.

Granted, part of this is an emotional connection to Eve Dallas. I'm not going to discuss that aspect at this time, though K.M. Weiland has a great blog this week if you want more info. And while caring for the characters you write (and read about) can heighten the feeling of conflict in your story, you can care all you want about your characters, but if nothing difficult ever passes through their life during the timeframe you're writing about, you're not writing a saleable story.

That being said, I'd urge you to review your latest work-in-progress. Try to identify what kind of conflict is going on every page or two. If you can't find it, it's likely your reader/agent/editor won't find it either.

I'll be off, creating havoc in the lives of my characters.

Until next time,



DeWayne said...

Good Read Liberty

Liberty Speidel said...

Thanks! I hope you and everyone else gets something useful out of it.

Lorrie said...

Great advice - thanks for sharing!

thebigguyinSF said...

I've seen this book we actually have it at the Longs Drug branch I work at! Good blog there Liberty keep the conflict coming!

thebigguyinSF said...

You realize in the Telltale heart, Poe's MC didn't think he was crazy either. LOL!

K.M. Weiland said...

Thanks for the link, Liberty! Spot-on point about balancing conflict with emotional connection. A good story has to contain both, or it will never get off the ground.

Kate Karyus Quinn said...

I must be a sadist too, because I have tortured the main character of my current WIP so much that if I ever decide to write a sequel I don't know what else I could do to her... but I'm sure I'd think of something eventually;)

Liberty Speidel said...

LOL, Kate! I'm having the same problem with my sci-fi WIP. The folks that I've had read the first few chapters so far keep asking me if I'm going to do a sequel--since I tend to write series books! Unfortunately (since I love my characters) I can't think of anything at this time that could top what I'm doing to them now--it's so bizarre that anything I do would probably be a let down.

Thanks for checking in! I hope you'll come back to visit!

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