What makes a character interesting?
A sticky situation.
It’s not just the fight scene, with lots of action, but the aftermath, the explanation, the facing of consequences that makes a situation sticky, and that make the scene stick. It not only moves the plot forward but develops the character, the most interesting part of any story.
Each character has values, priorities that often shift with circumstances, and a philosophy of life. If those parts of the character don’t conflict, it doesn’t matter how many fights happen, how many star ships rescue or destroy each other, or how many casualties are racked up on either side. It’s just action, body fluids, splatter, not conflict.
If there’s no dilemma, no soul-search, no “if it’s going to be, it’s up to me,” the scene won’t stick. The reader won’t stick either, because the effort of reading is just too much for no emotional payoff. What does the choice cost the character?
There’s never an easy, quick or cheap solution, or if there is, it’s been tried and found wanting, as have plans B, C, and D, with equally ineffective results. Each attempt reach the goal happily drags the character deeper and deeper into the sticky with the exact demons, fears, and ex-sidekicks desired most deeply to be avoided.
Be it mud, treacle, manners, or treaties, hand your character the sticky end of the situation.
Great post – I am glad I found your blog! I am a big kid at heart and love fairy tales, so I will be checking out more posts! A great read for a lazy, rainy Sunday here in Australia!
I’m glad you found me too. What’s your favorite fairy tale? Are there some different versions or some stories from the aborigines I need to search for?
Oh thank you, Charlotte, for this great reminder of how to make our characters/stories fascinating. People have sticky situations all the time, so why not in fiction too? It reminds me to “beat up on my characters!”
Conda, It’s hard to do that when we love them so much. But you don’t know how strong you are until you are in hot water–like a tea bag.