what do you do?
When your characters get caught in a downward tailspin, defeated, failed, how do you help them discover peace? Correct the errors of their ways?
Does a secondary character provide the answer? In many cases this could work, just remember the plausibility factor, though. By weaving hints of how this secondary character might be able to help throughout the story long in advance of when the actual need arises, this method could work successfully without the risk of cheating the reader from a plausible solution.
Or, do you have your character suffer and inch their way out of the mess they've created on their own? If they messed up early in the story, you'll have plenty of time to show their growth using this plan. I like this, but even better...
Do you leave some threads untied? Do you allow your character to hold onto a little regret? Allowing for your readers to dream new ways of his/her redemption thus making the story live on in your readers' imagination. To me, some of the strongest stories I've read wraps up key elements, but leaves at least one unresolved emotional tie. Something you can envision the main characters working together to eventually resolve, come to terms with. This is my favorite way to tackle the unplanned.
Like real life, some things just can't be figured out, or come to terms with, within the confines of a specific time frame--say like your books specific time frame. Allowing for this bit of reality to seep into your story may just keep your story world entertaining the reader far longer than their eyes meet the pages.
So, how do you handle your character's unexpected responses that cause them grief? What other ways are there to resolve these lovely twists we find ourselves writing?
Surrendering to Him,