Wednesday, September 7, 2005

"I want him to fight back!"

In a recent chapter I had critiqued, my main character, Kyle, gets abducted by a group of less-than-stable people. Not a bad idea that -- peril for the character, chance to work in some different psychos into the book. Because of the world the book takes place in, though, it wasn't enough for them to just capture Kyle. They needed a way to incapacitate him. My solution -- they drug him up to the gills.

Perfectly realistic. It fit within the rules of the world I built, took care of keeping Kyle under control, even allowed for some nice hallucinations... but I had this sneaking suspicion something was wrong. The chapters felt like they were dragging, that not enough was happening in them. I couldn't put my finger on it, but it was there. You shouldn't have to worry about things getting boring while your main character is being held by a bunch of loonies!

Then in critique group, she hit it right on the head -- "I want him to fight back!" By drugging him, I had taken away Kyle's ability to act. I had turned him into a piece of scenery, and people don't (typically) get that attached to scenery. It doesn't matter if he succeeds in his fight or not--probably better if he doesn't quite a bit of the time--but he has to at least try.

In one form or another, I've been fighting similar battles throughout my novel. To some extent, Kyle falls into his situation. It's outside his control, he didn't choose to become involved. But there's a big difference between that and just letting him drift along through events like a wet piece of cloth.

Your character may not be in control, but at least he needs to fight back!

Word Delta for the Day: +270

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