POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE
By Nandy Ekle
Your character has a goal. This goal is something they really want. They think about it constantly. It is the theme of every decision they make, every thought they have, every moment of every day. They dream about it and this goal becomes the loftiest ambition they will ever have. And they want it so much they would give up everything in the world, including their own body, to get this thing they want.
So that’s where the adventure begins. It begins with a need that goes deeper than the ocean. The character begins to search for ways to get it.
As they search, their vows of “whatever it takes” begin to come true. They must begin to lose things they care about in order to get the one big thing they want. First they lose the small inconsequential things, like toys, grades, respect, or small change money. These are things the reader can identify with losing, but not be scarred too deeply.
But still they keep after their goal.
So then they must start losing higher stakes. The loss of more important things, like pets, jobs, good friends, vehicles, homes, loved ones, or fortunes—these things will dig deeper in the reader’s heart. They can understand the pain the character goes through, but they can still understand why he goes through it. The goal is just too great to worry about losing the things they have lost.
So then, we must be extremely cruel and take it all away. Our character should become totally alone, broken hearted, and starved. This is the point where the character will begin to wonder if their goal is really worth all the loss they have endured. Were they better off in the beginning of the story, or will they actually be better off if they reach their goal? “Happily ever after,” or “sadder but wiser”?
This is also the point where the reader’s heart is as broken as the character’s heart. The reader wanted to see the character reach his goal. They know how important this need is to him, but they also feel the pain he endures to get to the goal. The reader has become a either a cheerleader because the goal is very grand, or they want to discourage the character because the goal is not worth the losses.
So whatever the case, your main character must become a loser to become a winner.
Congratulations. You have just received a post card from the muse.