Friday Fun – What situations do you like to place your characters in?

Friday Fun is a group post from the writers of the NHWN blog. Each week, we’ll pose and answer a different, get-to-know-us question. We hope you’ll join in by providing your answer in the comments.

QUESTION:  What type of situation do you like best to either write for your main character or read about for another’s main character? 

wendy-shotWendy Thomas – I LOVE writing and reading about ethical quandaries – where someone may not want to do something but they simply have no choice because of ethics or a personal belief. I adore stories where the main character is rewarded for sticking to their decision. A perfect example of this is in It’s a Wonderful Life. George wants to leave town but can’t because he has to protect the town from Mr. Potter. An angel shows him what would have happened had he not made that decision and George finally accepts that he had done the right thing all along and that his decision had tremendous value.

I also like “old fashioned” family stories where family bonds are challenged and lessons are learned. One of my all-time favorite stories is The Homecoming, where John Boy, transitions from child to adult and is ultimately acknowledged and valued for his not-expected desire to be a writer.

In it’s truest essence, I love situations where the good guy wins.

Lisa_2015Lisa J. Jackson: I like writing and reading characters that have to dig deep and do some introspection to find out what is truly important to them. I like when they are in challenging situations that require them to ask questions (mostly of themselves, sometimes of others) in order to  figure out which is the best option/solution for the predicament they find themselves in (when all choices are less than ideal). I enjoy writing and reading psychological thrillers the most.

Diane MacKinnon, MD, Master Certified Life CoachDiane MacKinnon: I struggle with writing my fictional characters into situations in which I don’t believe I’d find myself–which means I struggle with making my stories truly interesting. It’s boring for nothing bad to happen, for a character to make no real mistakes. I’ve been trying to write shorter pieces (in my journal, mostly) where I let my characters make really bad mistakes and let it play out. I think it’s helping my fiction writing (which is not my main focus right now, but I still enjoy it.) In reading, I like to read about characters who make mistakes and deal with them, although I find myself unable to suspend my disbelief at times when a character makes a poor decision. A book I really enjoyed and still think about is I Know This Much is True, by Wally Lamb.

JME5670V2smCROPJamie Wallace: I love stories in which the protagonist is confronted by a truth that proves that the world is not what it seems. Since I was a little girl, I have wanted to meet a magical creature. I left notes in tree stumps for gnomes and faeries, looked for traces of unicorns in the forest, and searched for dragon eggs in the dunes along the shore. Even though I’m a grown up now, I have never lost my fascination with the possibility that there are creatures and forces at work in the world of which we are not yet aware. Because of my hunger for wonder, I love any tale that reveals the possibility of a reality that is more than what meets the eye.

From the stories of space visitors like E.T., Contact, Cocoon, and Close Encounters to stories about hidden creatures like The Water Horse and Pete’s Dragon, I love a story that feeds my hope that something awe-inspiring is out there, but we just haven’t seen it yet. Stories in which magic is at work – either subtly or overtly – also fall into this category: most of Alice Hoffman’s novels, including Practical Magic and Nightbird; David Almond’s beautiful Skellig; and Kristen Bair O’Keeffe’s The Art of Floating and Thirsty. And then, of course, there are the straight-up urban fantasy novels that blend the magical with our own world in varying degrees of reality: Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere and American Gods, Lev Grossman’s Magicians Trilogy, and almost anything by Charles de Lint.

In short, I love stories that push the reader to consider alternate realities and previously unconsidered possibilities. I love stories that remind us how much we don’t know and what a wonderful gift that is.

19 thoughts on “Friday Fun – What situations do you like to place your characters in?

  1. i just quickly found on the reader and would love to join all in this group. i will ck back later geat blog and group but need to run at the moment so sorry. cheers blessings to all

  2. I do love the inspirations you all share. I’m afraid I’m a bit narcissistic, though. I’M my favorite character and I love putting myself on my sailboat!! That’s where the mind opens and Inspiration is best received.

  3. In my longer works, my characters tend to be younger and are finding out who they are, making tough decisions, and overcoming overwhelming obstacles. In my short stories, they’re often confronting their fears.

  4. Ah, right there with you, Wendy! It’s a Wonderful Life is one of those stories that never loses its power to pull at your heartstrings (even when you watch it religiously every December… ahem). I always feel just as frustrated on George’s behalf when his dreams get waylaid again…and again… and… and then I rejoice when he turns down Pottifer’s offer & sticks to his guns! What an epic!

    And Jamie, you’re not the only adult out there still hunting for faeries! I agree — that magical moment of “entering the wardrobe” will never cease to capture that deep, ingrained human desire to find “something more than we knew.”

  5. I enjoy placing my characters in situations where they don’t know what to do next. This happens a lot in mysteries and lets the reader think about it too. At last, when I myself solve then put it on paper. Great post, I loved the inspirations the answers gave.

    • I like that, too – situations in which the character is confronted by something completely unexpected that demands a different kind of response from the protagonist. I guess that describes most stories, but there are certainly some that emphasize that element more than others.

      Thanks for being here!

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