Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The dance of avoidance

People often skirt around issues, protect themselves or others, sugarcoat things, fool themselves. Therefore, this is realistic when done by fictional characters, but avoidance can become a bit of a well-worn path. Writers have to be careful about not making characters dance this dance for too long, just for the sake of filling up pages.

Sometimes it's fun to let the characters go ahead and make that declaration, step off that cliff, say the thing we all know they're thinking--but thought they wouldn't dare to say. It can set up subplots and interim conflicts, give us something to do on the way to the main event.

Such moments have to fit the character, of course. There should be a motivation and a reason. But this is one way to break a pattern if the writing begins to feel predictable or formulaic: don't let the character wriggle out of this scene without taking a risk.


  1. Aww, thanks for this! I am at a scene in my current WIP where I'm dealing with this, and I love what you say at the end. It's the perfect reminder for where I'm stuck!

  2. Yes. Stories heat up when characters engage in risky behavior, take a chance, do something impulsive.

  3. Angelina: Yes, because then they have to deal with the consequences!