Save the Drama for Your Capstone Project

I’m writing here because I am thinking a lot about my novel, but I still have too many unmade choices to write any more of it today. Something that I’m learning from my long-suffering advisor, Kevin, is that what feels like a hugely dramatic moment to me does not necessarily translate as dramatic to the reader. Characters can’t just feel like they’re in danger, they have to actually BE in danger in order for a reader to stay engaged. This is something that is probably obvious to anyone who isn’t anxious and stuck inside their own head all the time, but wasn’t to me. I think what I need to do is actually make real the fears that I have all the time… really fuck up the lives of my imaginary friends. Otherwise they are never going to be interesting enough for anyone else to get to know.

Somethingelse that I’ve been thinking about in terms of creating drama in my story is that I need to have faith in my readers to be able to tolerate bigger flaws and bigger mistakes from characters and still care about them. Here’s more evidence that being screwed up doesn’t necessarily help your writing… I’m so afraid of how people perceive me that I’m still nauseous about things I said in third grade. I protect myself according to that fear, and I think I’ve been protecting my characters the same way. But that prevents them from becoming worth reading about. I don’t owe them safety or dignity or respect or anything else because they are not real and I think it’s only in embracing that not-realness that I can make them flawed enough to seem real to anyone but me.

So that’s where I’m at these days… trying to step away from tortured inner monologues and toward mystery baby-daddies and extramarital affairs. Wish me luck. It’s weird out there.

Thanks,

Patti

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