Girls Write Out
Monday, November 07, 2011
Once upon a time, there was a boy named Joseph. He was the apple of his dad's eye and, as such, became prideful, boasting to his brothers. As a result, his brothers hated him. They sold him into slavery and told his dad he'd died. Joseph grew in wisdom, learning much, and became the head of his master's household. But soon a false accusation landed him in prison.

You know the end of the story. He earned the respect of the guards and was eventually lifted to a position second only to Pharaoh. Joseph went from a prideful boy to a servant leader, but it wasn't without a touch of misery, a nugget of betrayal, and a pound of unmerited discipline.

What does Joseph have to do with writing? Just as God used terrible circumstances to grow Joseph (and us!), so must we use trials to grow our protagonist. This can be hard at first. Hey, we're nice people! We don't like wreaking havoc on others. But havoc must happen for our protagonists to grow, and grow they must.

But don't make too many terrible things happen to your protagonist--this can feel contrived. Sometimes, one solid trial is enough to carry a story.

In "You've Got Mail", Kathleen Kelly falls in love with the man who destroyed the precious bookshop her late mother had opened.
In "The Lakehouse", Kate falls in love with a man who's living in a different time.
In "While You were Sleeping", Lucy finally falls in love, but his family thinks she's engaged to his brother.
In "A Cowboy's Touch", a journalist finds the love of a cowboy and the story of her life only to realize she has to choose between the two.

So bring on bring on the impossible complications, bring on the unfortunate losses, the undeserved consequences. Just remember, it's for their own good--and for the good of your readers.
Denise Hunter  
posted at 9:27 AM  
  Comments (5)
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At 10:10 AM, Blogger Rita Garcia said...

Fantastic article, Denise! Thanks for sharing this perspective on developing characters.

At 11:02 AM, Blogger Timothy Fish said...

Well said.

At 11:49 AM, Blogger Colleen Coble said...

Oh I love torturing characters! And you do it so well. :)

At 1:47 PM, Blogger Hannah Alexander said...

Thanks for the reminder, Denise. I'll do that today.

At 10:00 AM, Blogger Kristin said...

The way Colleen is gleeful about torturing characters makes me nervous. LOL Great advice D!!


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The Authors
Kristin Billerbeck
Kristin Billerbeck is a proud Californian, wife, mother of four, and connoisseur of the irrelevant. She writes Christian Chick Lit; where she finds need for most of the useless facts lulling about in her head.

Colleen Coble

Colleen Coble writes romantic suspense with a strong atmospheric element. A lovable animal of some kind--usually a dog--always populates her novels. She can be bribed with DeBrand mocha truffles.

Denise Hunter

Denise Hunter writes women's fiction and love stories with a strong emotional element. Her husband says he provides her with all her romantic material, but Denise insists a good imagination helps too.

Diann Hunt

Diann Hunt writes romantic comedy and humorous women's fiction. She has been happily married forever, loves her family, chocolate, her friends, chocolate, her dog, and well, chocolate.

Hannah Alexander

Cheryl Hodde writes romantic medical suspense under the pen name of Hannah Alexander, using all the input she can get from her husband, Mel, for the medical expertise. For fun she hikes and reads. Out of guilt, she rescues discarded cats. She and Mel are presently taking orders from four pampered strays.

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