Author Mark Stevens discusses the importance of grief and loss in fiction and why readers latch on to a character's ability to overcome adversity. Batman's parents were murdered. Hamlet's father, too. Dorothy Gale lost her home. (Well, maybe everything.) Scarlett O'Hara fell from high society. And privilege. If you got all four to sit down over a cocktail, think they'd have much to talk about? Grief. Loss. (How To Write Romantic Suspense With Humor) In addition, they are characters who want to make sense of the world. They are all testing one world order against a new one. Their journeys form the psychological gristle of their stories. Their reactions to these losses drive them—whether they happened before the story starts or along the way. Put another way; static stories are not stories. Readers want upheaval. They want adversity. Your protagonist can't smoothly climb a mountain. The ropes must break. Winds must howl. Fellow climbers might perish. And our main characters must process as they go. They process life, death, and change. They process crises large and small. Readers want their main characters tested. Intuitively, readers compare and contrast a character's pickles and dilemmas with their own. How do people grapple with horrible things, the worst moments? We learn from reading, both fiction and non. In his brilliant and touching memoir, Half A Life, Darin Strauss processes the day he was an 18-year-old behind the wheel of a car when he accidentally killed a girl riding her bicycle. A classmate. “I've […]
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