After a bad day, I took a long walk and had a great idea! Today I share with you how to take the crappy things that happen in life and make our books and characters so much better.
If you can get through the rough and terrible things that happen in life, why should your characters get off any easier? After all, whether we want to learn and grow through the difficulties we face, the fact is we almost always come out the other side a better person. Or at least we have a shot at it.
So many of us writers don't want to be too mean to our characters. We like them, we might even love them, and we want happy, wonderful things to happen to them. But reading or watching stories like that is usually boring. Even the sweetest, lightest Hallmark movie has a person with a problem to solve.
So give them yours! You know how it feels, and emotion is one of the biggest things that get our readers to love our books. Create a file or a journal and write down the things that happen to you, how you felt about it, how long it took you to get through it physically, how long it took emotionally, the range of feelings during that time, what other people were saying to you (helpful and unhelpful), even the sights and sounds and smells you remember.
Then create a list of keywords under each bullet point entry so you can search your growing document in the future for the just the right kind of special torture to inflict on your characters next. You survived it - they will, too! And your readers will love it. :-D