I was reading a writing article the other day about how writers are supposed to be sadists. We’re supposed to be mean to our main characters. And to other characters, too, I suppose.
This gave me pause. I’m not mean. I run from conflict. I want happy endings for everyone involved. How am I supposed to build conflict and tension in my stories if I can’t stand it in my own life? The worst conflict I wrestle with is wanting to dump the bag of chocolate chips into the peanut butter and eat it straight from the jar.
I was going to do a test run here and try some meanness on for size, but even the thought of writing a quick little story with twists and turns makes my brain go blank. Ack!
Maybe I need to make a menu of problems. There’s a thought. I could make an a la carte list of tragedies, or I can put together whole meals of coordinating conflict. I like the idea of a list better.
Appetizers: flat tire on the way to work, coffee spilled on clothing on the way out of the door, gasoline at the pump squirted on shoes.
Soup course: cell phone dies (more than just dead battery), laptop crashes, purse snatched.
Main course: dog poisoned, papers served (divorce, foreclosure, being sued), car wreck, house burgled.
Dessert: kidnapping, murder, mayhem!
I think I could get the hang of this. Well, I could get the hang of thinking up tragedies. It’s the unraveling I might have issues with. But I guess not every conflict needs to be unwound.