Imagine this: a beautiful, talented woman meets and handsome, successful man. They hit it off, the angels sing, they get married, and everything is sunshine and rainbows.
Who wants to read about perfect people who get everything they want and never have to struggle or try? Can you relate to that? I don’t know anyone who can.
Now think about your favorite stories. Does everything work out easily? No way! Even kid’s movies progressively ruin their character’s live. Look at Simba in The Lion King: he tries to show off for Nala and is attacked, his father dies, he loses his home, he finds out his uncle is a murderer. Everything goes wrong until the very end.
If you want readers to relate to your characters – which pulls them into the story and keeps them reading – you need to throw some obstacles in their way. Not speed bump-sized obstacles. Boulders in the road. Make your characters dig deep, and find out what they’re really made of.
Here are eight ways to ruin your characters’ lives (which will save your story and engage your reader):
- Fire her: Many people find their identity in their jobs. If that’s your main character, eliminate her identity and see what happens.
- Cheat on her: Nothing’s as heart breaking as lasing a love (even when it wasn’t a healthy relationship).
- Steal from her: What’s her prized possession? Take it. See how she reacts.
- Move her: Is everything perfect in Chicago? Then transfer her to Albuquerque. See what happens.
- Hate her: No you specifically, but another character in the book. It can’t be blind, unwarranted hate (every character has a motivation), but it’s okay to have people not like her.
- Love her: Is your character not a fan of kids? Perfect. Bring in a neighbor kid who loves her and does everything possible to be near her.
- Blindside her: Don’t follow the usual pattern. If she gets pulled over for speeding, don’t just give her a ticket. Have her arrested. See how bad things can get.
- Do it again: Do you really want to engage your readers? Then fire your character, move her, blindside her, and hate her.
So don’t make things easy on your characters. Grab your tool box so you can throw a wrench, hammer, screwdriver, and pliers in her plan.