Keep your Character Busy

Sometimes we find ourselves in a bind. We over-commit, scheduling too many activities in too short of a time period. What to do?

This is a serious dilemma, especially for busy professionals and parents. There are only so many hours available to us, so we have to make sure that we elect to complete those tasks that are either necessary or so compelling that we dare not push them aside.

One common mistake is not giving our characters choices. Their days are boring, filled with blank spaces waiting to be filled. Perhaps this is intentional, depending upon what type of story you are writing.

Think about your reader. How compelling is it to read about someone who sits in front of the TV for hours, doing nothing, day after day? Or the one who goes to work, sits in front of a computer, comes home, and then repeats the next day.

Something needs to happen to liven up the story. There has to be tension, and tension is created by conflict with an antagonist. Tension rises and falls throughout the story.

Each time the character finds herself in a bind, she makes choices. Those choices control whether or not the tension is relieved. These are the hooks that draw the reader on into the story.

Your task is to give your character a number of things to do. Think about his personality. Make a list of at least 5 things that he would like to do. Think of a variety of things. For example play softball, go see a movie, take a hike, travel to Europe and find a place where she can meet new friends.

Next write a scene in which your character gets up in the morning and prioritizes activities. Put her in action. As she moves from one task to the next, throw in complications. A car accident. An electrical line falls, blocking the road. Pounding rain. Slick roads. Anything that impedes her ability to complete her task. This forces her to make decision, to come up with alternatives.

Reread. Do you sense tension building? If not, rewrite, adding in elements that make his life even more complicated.

Good luck with this one.

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