Disasters, Conflicts, & Characterization

Having spent a wonderful weekend away, this morning I went out to water and check on my veggies. earlier in the season I warded off moles and voles and raccoons and deer and rabbits and all those leaf-loving insects. And most of this season, because of the drought, I’ve had to  water the plants daily. More than once — probably more than one hundredth — I’ve wondered if investing in Farmer’s Markets would be more worthwhile. So I come home from my weekend to see how my planties have done in my two-day absence. Disaster. I’d forgotten to put the netting over the beans. Drat those hungry deer! Three months of work — essentially a whole gardening season — gone in the excitement of a two-day get-away. One itsy-bitsy moment of forgetfulness, and no beans. As a hobby gardener, I can now simply go out and buy fresh beans. They may taste as good as mine would have (you’d have to ask the deer to be sure), but it’s still not as satisfying emotionally to eat beans grown elsewhere by someone else. It also might not be too late for a fall crop to go in for the deer to get later. It could have been worse. We could have depended on those beans for our income, or to see us through the long, cold winter. Now that would have been a true disaster. Life or death survival. So I’ve quit my whining and before making a visit to the corn lady, I thought I’d post about the importance of conflict and disaster for your characters.

Having your MC be a hobby gardener whose moment of forgetfulness merely means a sad, embarrassing trip to buy some elsewhere-grown veggies would not make for an interesting story, barely for an interesting post. But having your MC be in charge of the family beans for survival — now that would make for an interesting plot twist. So make a list of your daily oops moments, or monthly if you’re better than I, and raise the stakes to beat up and strengthen your main character. Get tugging at those reader hearts.

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