Happy stories where everything goes right, rarely make for interesting reading material. Thus, it becomes necessary for an author to introduce the element of conflict. Personally, I have a hard time with creating characters who have the right amount of torment in their lives to make it interesting without going overboard. I tend to err on the side of caution when this difficulty arises, coddling my characters because I grow attached to them. It’s hard for me to like the idea of introducing pain into my work. I’m the kind of person who cringes at surgery shows on television and sympathizes with characters who suffer, to the point where painful movie scenes force me to turn away.
And yet, I know that as a writer, being too overprotective of my characters will ultimately be detrimental to my work.
I was reminded of this the other day, when a friend and I began discussing how we’d gotten various scars. I began to realize that to some extent, our scars tells the story of who we are and where we’ve been. So I think one of the major challenges in writing a believable character is to give them scars, both physically and emotionally.
While I was talking with my friend, it also struck me that the two do not necessarily have to be separate – physical and emotional scars. As I began speaking to him about a scar I’d gotten from the spikes on top of a barbed wire fence, strong feelings of insecurity began to arise, like I was making myself vulnerable. It wasn’t because of anything he’d done, but it was connected to times in my past when I’d opened myself up to someone, only to be ridiculed or misunderstood. So our scars, physical and emotional, are inescapable reminders of who we are. As a writer, you don’t have to go overboard with torture, but be sure to give them scars.
Bio: Leslie Soule is the author of the fantasy novel Fallenwood, soon to be released by Decadent Publishing.