Want a great character? Find a loser.
June 23, 2015
WHAT MAKES a great story?
It has nothing to do with what we find.
It’s all about what we lose.
It’s not very complicated.
We all understand the pain, the heartbreak, the fear, and the frustrations of loss in our lives.
It’s part of our everyday existence.
Novels are no different.
Novels reflect life.
We lose our way.
We lose a loved one.
We lose our money.
We lose a friend.
Someone we love leaves us.
Love is gone.
Love is lost.
We fight our wars, personal and otherwise.
Battles are bitter.
Battles are deadly.
Battles end badly.
Wars are lost.
We believe that the best is yet to come.
But each day grows darker.
Each day is worse than the day before.
Hope is frayed
Hope is lost.
We strive to win.
Sometimes we do, but not always.
We strike back.
We’re struck down.
We glance at the scoreboard.
We have lost.
We file our wins away and forget them.
The losses stay with us always.
What could we have done differently?
We made the wrong choice.
Was there a right one?
We took the wrong road.
Which was the right one?
We told her we loved her.
But did we show it?
Did she ever know it?
Too often, we take life for granted.
That’s our fault.
That’s our loss.
But then, great stories are built on loss.
Let your characters lose their way.
Only then can they find it again.
Only then can your readers have something to cheer.
Let your characters lose a love.
Only then can they really understand what love is all about.
Only then will your characters fall in love with your story.
Let your characters lose a battle.
Only then will they find their strength.
Only then will they discover their resolve.
Only then will they know who they really are.
It’s all right.
That’s even better.
In any genre of novel, it’s so much more gratifying when those characters climb back to their feet, square their shoulders, cast their losses aside, and finally win the one battle most important in their lives.