Learning writing, from a structural, academic standpoint, has been my mission this semester, to better understand how stories and plot lines work. And I am terrified.
I am afraid for the future of my characters. The ones I have already created, and the ones I have yet to create. My professor, Maryrose Wood, brilliantly insane writer, has said multiple times that what makes a great character, a hero a reader can follow, is “putting them through hell.” They have to face trial and tribulations, emotional or physical turmoil, to be able to come out the other side, having conquered their fears. Stories are largely uninteresting if it’s all sunshine and daises.
In the past, some of my work, a lot of my writings, have conflict, but the character is strong heading into the action, with no room from growth. I wanted my characters to be strong, but I had yet to realize that their growth, what made them able to face the later conflict, was what I should have been diving into.
Now, part of me reflects and understands that I knew it back then too. My best bits and pieces were the ones that brought me to tears in the process of writing. Lingering over that anguish, opening it up to more and more detail, could only be advantageous to the whole story. I always enjoyed reading stories that forced me to feel harsh emotions. Sometimes, I even go grab a movie that I know will bring me to tears, just because I want to feel. I would almost say there is a drive for me to see the progression of a character from everyday life, into the pits, and back out again.
Why I avoided real change in my characters is probably something Freud would love to pick apart. In fact, I am positive that I largely stepped around the extra emotions because a teenager with raging hormones certainly has no need for more turmoil. But I know I am ready.
All of my own trials and tests, no matter how minimal, strengthened my own character. Throwing my characters to the wolves is something I (look forward to isn’t the right phrase) will remember can only improve them.