Wednesday, May 11, 2016

How to Bring Those Characters To Their Knees

Your story has introduced us to MC. We've come to know her main problem and have watched her wade through issues that have steadily prevented her from resolving anything.

Along the way, we've met others in her life and have a great feel for the setting. Clearly she is about to solve this problem and the journey is coming to an end

Then--the most despicable thing happens, crushing MC. Readers can't figure out how she will ever survive....and can't help but read faster. Stay up later. Invest themselves in seeing MC to the last page. She's going to make it, isn't she?

One of the epic examples of today's concept is Miss Scarlett O'Hara. 

From the opening scene where her greatest problem was making sweet Ashley jealous...

to the climax where determination to rise above Tara's destruction...

Scarlett moves past her first selfish desire to have all the men swooning AND Ashley's unswerving love to an agonizing promise: 

As God is my witness, as God is my witness they're not going to lick me. I'm going to live through this and when it's all over, I'll never be hungry again. No nor any of my folk. If I have to like, steal, cheat, or kill. As God is my witness, I'll never be hungry again.

Notice, before we dig deeper into this topic, the huge change in her perception of her world. She only thought of personal wants in the opening, but at the climax she included her "folk".  A huge change. epic change. 

When is the moment to bring MC to her knees?

At the climax. The climax is the biggest moment in the story and happens shortly before the ending. It is the event that is so huge for the MC that absolutely nothing, NOTHING could be be worse on this journey.

MC crumbles to her knees denying that the tragedy happened--even with all the evidence around her. She is unable to cope at this moment. She cannot find a single strategy, not in all of her past, to help her take the next breath.

After this moment passes, and the amount of time it takes for this has a huge variable depending on the story, an unimaginable source of energy explodes from MC's core. Anger at what indeed has happened to her. Realization of the truth fuels this anger.

How can we bring MC to her knees?

What is the absolute worst thing that can happen on this journey? 

1. This doesn't necessarily mean Rambo destruction. 

*Her crushing moment could be rejection from the only one she could love. 
*The loss of the very thing she worked for, job, career, home, etc.
*She misunderstood and led everyone into a trap. 

Try not to make the climax predictable. The perfect choice should sneak up on not only the the MC but also the reader and dope slap both. 

2. The rescue from this tragedy also cannot be predictable. Look again at Scarlett O'Hara. The tragedy ended. She worked to restore Tara. Realized who her true love was and lost him when he delivered the famous line of rejection at the end. Audiences wondered, and still do to this day...would they ever get back together? Definitely not the predictable ending.

MC needs to cry
MC needs to be hungry
MC needs the opposite of the perfect answer to happen (Did you see Cast Away? He survived to see his girl, but when he finally made it home...can't spoil it for you. If you haven't see this movie, first: see it, second: see how the incredible writers satisfied viewers with an unexpected ending.)

Why should we bring MC to her knees?

*Because the story will be stagnant otherwise.
*The story truly will not have a complete purpose. Even God put Revelation in the Bible. Talk about an epic moment yet to come!

Basically any other reason will come back to these two.

So- sharpen your knives, load your guns, burn the will that gives MC all that money, hide your kids because "There is something truly terrible's a nightmare but it's one exciting ride."  "The Mob Song," Lyrics by Howard Ashman, from Beauty and the Beast.

Name a story that has brings MC to his/her knees. The story can be yours. 

**Photo courtesies: header pic- ; Gone With the Wind pics:

I can't wait to read your comment(s)!

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Rock climbing, white-water rafting, zip lining, and hiking top Mary's list of great ways to enjoy a day. Such adventures can be found in her stories as well.

Mary writes young adult mystery/suspense, is honing marketing and writing skills, and loves to pen missionary and tell Bible event stories on her ministry blog, God Loves Kids. She has finaled in several writing contests.

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Cara Putman said...

A GREAT post, Mary. Pinned it so I can come back to it :-)

Mary Vee Writer said...

Thanks, Cara. Hope it brings the right help at the right moment.

Unknown said...

Hi Mary. I really enjoyed your post. I find your style of writing to be 'quite inviting'. I am discovering by reading your posts that you are very proficient in ‘hiding’ morsels for readers to ponder and to enjoy that extend beyond the boundaries of what you write. I especially liked the final lines. Take care. Mary

Katie S said...

Loved this post! I will look back on this during my MC's climactic moment!