When it’s Nice to be Mean

In Craft, Musings on May 13, 2010 at 9:51 pm

Fiction is a strange thing. Where else can you do terrible things to people and not only get away with it, but have people ask for more?

The essence of a good plot is raising those ever-loving stakes on your characters up and up and up, pressing them to the very edges of their being, so that what oozes out the sides is some kind of messy, wild truth, right? And hopefully a cool and twisty story.

Sometimes when I’m grappling with plot and character (like every time i sit down to write), I try to remind myself of why I read fiction. Yes, entertainment is right up there, but reading a novel is a lot like eating cracker jacks (when you were a kid) to get that prize at the bottom. I want to discover something. A feeling, an idea, a way of looking at the world that maybe already exists inside me, but not in that way.

So go ahead: be mean and terrible to your characters. Really lay it on thick. So long as you bring out a little redemption at the end.


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