I couldn’t figure out why the climax of my novel didn’t have a lot of tension. After many re-readings, I realized I was being too nice to my characters. I can’t help it. I was taught not to hurt people.
Think about our society. We live in a rational world, or at least we like to think we do, and in the twenty-first century, we believe in talking about our issues, seeking shades of gray to better understand our fellow man.
We don’t derive pleasure from someone else’s pain, and in spite of the literature available to us, it’s nigh impossible to understand the mentality of a psychopath unless you’ve experienced these feelings or lack of feelings. Add in the fact that we love our protagonist and don’t want to see him or her hurt too badly, and we end up with pleasant, rational scenes where everybody clearly states their feelings.
That is so NOT real life.
I got mean this weekend. It all started when my antagonist’s voice began to ring clear. My antagonist has not been the most cooperative character I’ve ever written. She has been contentious, evasive, and downright hostile and that’s just with me. Imagine the trauma she could put the rest of my characters through if I let her be herself.
This weekend, I turned her loose, and she is nasty. I’m much more pleased with the chapter and feel it has the necessary tension. I’m going back through my earlier chapters with my antagonist, and with her voice clearly in my head, I’m tweaking her scenes and a few scenes with my protagonist since their relationship is so close. It’s coming along beautifully now that I’m no longer being nice.
So how about you? Have you ever found yourself writing scenes that are too restrained because you didn’t want to hurt your protagonist?
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