Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Wicked Wednesday - make 'em suffer

Writing great paranormal romance isn't all about the longing glances, the sweet kisses, or the fiery passion between the sheets. Oh, we do love those things, but no. That's not what really makes readers turn the pages. It's the suffering we put our characters through that hooks them.

In order to get your readers to empathize with your characters, you need to engage them emotionally. Everyone knows what it's like to have their heart broken. Perhaps we're not as dramatic in our woes as the characters, but sometimes we'd like to be. Describe the pain in vivid and clear language. Be bold. Make the suffering unbearable and explore its most primal roots. Don't try to be subtle about it.

Emotional suffering isn't enough. You need to build in external conflict to torture your characters too. Again, problems need to be clear. Your readers need to know what your characters are fighting against. Having a clear problem doesn't mean to not have any mystery. Simple example: the problem is there's a new serial killer killing werewolves in town and your protagonist has to find out who it is before there's another victim. (The sexy Alpha of the local pack wants in on the hunt too!) Clear problem and intriguing mystery.

Once you've made your characters and readers miserable, it's time for the solution. The solution needs to be as clear as the problem. It must be realistic and satisfying. I'm sure everyone can agree a weak ending ruins a good story. Give your readers the emotional high to make up for the suffering you've put them through.

What hooks you in a story: the happy moments or the suffering?

32 comments:

  1. I love making characters suffer.... because when it gets too much, I make them suffer a bit more...then it's time to find the solution... great post.

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    1. Thanks! I like torturing my characters too. I don't know if they like me for it, but I'm the all powerful one in their world. BWUHAHAHAHA!!

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  2. That's one of the best thing about writing - making your characters suffer and try to find a way to bring them out of it. It's one of the things I love to read about too! SO much conflict is great! :)

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    1. I love reading about conflict and emotional despair. It's so much fun to write too!

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  3. great advice. I think in order for character's to appreciate the happy moments, they have to suffer for them.

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    1. Thanks! I totally agree. Plus, it's fun to write all that conflict.

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  4. Lovely post. I do like making my readers suffer and, sometimes, I don't always give them the ending they expect. But then, if I go by my own reading, sometimes it's better to have a satisfying ending to a happy one.

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    1. Thanks! I agree with you about endings. I don't like to force a happily ever after if it doesn't fit the story.

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  5. If everything is happy what do we have to look forward to--for things to get bad? At least when characters are suffering we are emotionally invested in the story and rooting or at waiting for a solution to come into play. Suffering is the story for the most part.

    Lee
    An A to Z Co-Host
    Tossing It Out
    Twitter: @AprilA2Z
    #atozchallenge

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    1. That's true. Being emotionally invested encourages the reader to keep reading.

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  6. Its no fun, if the romantic stakes aren't high. Need to know why they can't be together and what extend will they go to...else its just sweet mills and boon or spicy harlequin.

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  7. Great advice, and I do like the suffering. LOL!

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    1. Thanks! I do enjoy making my characters suffer as they do it sometimes to me! Hehehe!

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  8. The suffering, I guess. I like happy scenes now and then, but it's more interesting when the characters are experience strife.

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    1. Happy scenes are fine if the characters earn them through suffering.

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  9. Suffering makes the world go 'round. (^; Good post, Christine!

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  10. I think it's more interesting when the characters experience problems. After all, the world in which we live is not perfect. And of course there needs to be a "journey." Good post!

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    1. Thank you! I like a lot of conflict in a plot. It keeps me on the edge of my seat.

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  11. You have to care about the characters. You can see people hurting but if you don't know much about them or have been invested in their journey it doesn't have the same impact.

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    1. Oh yes, that's true. Only if the reader is emotionally invested in the characters can the story be enjoyed.

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  12. I think I'm definitely more hooked by books where the author "tortures" the characters (and readers!) rather than there being too many happy scenes. That can get a little boring!

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    1. I don't like the happy bit until the end. Conflict keeps me reading. Have a great weekend!

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  13. This is a great reminder of the importance of emotional buy in. I hate weak endings.

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    1. Me too. A weak ending can ruin a book for me.

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