Thursday, March 26, 2009

When things don't go as planned...

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,



Jody Hedlund said...

I like your suggestion to leave some character issues unresolved. That's how we are in real life. We're imperfect sinners and sometimes we struggle with certain problems our entire lives.

So our characters shouldn't be perfect by the end of the book and we don't have to have a neat and tidy ending. But I think we do have to show some growth in character and some resolution to the major plot lines in order to make the reader satisfied.

The trick is wrapping everything up in a real way so that our endings don't have the "everything is now perfect" feel.

Jessica said...

Hmmm, good question. I usually do tie everything up and haven't even thought of leaving something untied. But i'm someone who reads mostly romance and romantic suspense. I think it depends on the genre as to how the book should end.
Great question! If it's a series or there's more, it seems like leaving an untied thread would hook the reader into the next book.

Eileen Astels Watson said...

Jody--BINGO! You said it well. "wrapping everything up in a real way so that our endings don't have the "everything is now perfect" feel"

A satisfied feel is definitely required from me as a reader, but too rosy doesn't suspend disbelief for me and so I'm left feeling cheated rather than dreaming on.

Eileen Astels Watson said...

Jessica, do you really tie EVERYTHING up? There are no more nagging regrets of past responses that might linger on in your characters? Consequences they are now having to deal with when they'd probably prefered somethine different?

I'm not talking about major things left unresolved. The major plot elements in a novel do need to be tied up, it's just how nicely I'm questioning. Can there be resolve with a little regret left to endure, work through? That kind of thing.

Can't wait to read your story!

Jessica said...

Hmmm, I don't know. If I do leave things up in the air, I don't realize it. :-) You can tell me, if I ever get a request for a full. Man, I'm so nervous. Have heard nothing back yet and I'm very afraid it'll be a rejection. Wah!

Eileen Astels Watson said...

The waiting, I hear, is the hardest! My hubby always says "No news is good news", so let's think that way for you and your ms.

I'll being praying for peace for you, and that God's will be answered!