Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Low Point

The blood…and worse, lie on a rubble-strewn street. Everyone’s in shock – everyone still alive. Some of the characters the reader has followed through the book now lay out there on that street as violently torn remnants of themselves. It wasn’t an epic battle, and it wasn’t glorious. In fact, it happened in a completely inconsequential run across a street and was over in a blinding moment. The main character is staring numbly at a growing disaster, and their own terrible injuries. No foreshadowing. No warning by the author.

Welcome to the low point in a story. There comes a time when the best plans unravel, and the future is as bleak as a mother sobbing for a son or daughter that won’t be coming home. Writing this, well, sucks. You have to come home from a hard day’s work, smile and kiss, and then slide down into the stunned shell of a character on the cusp of losing it all. You have to feel their pain. Dredge up the worst you’ve ever felt and slap it bleeding into your story. The windows around you grow dark as you write, and the warm sound of family dims into the vacant stare of your character’s hopelessness.

Why? Because any good adventure novel will bring you to this place. If you have characters of any depth, you have to descend into that darkness so that your readers will take that trip with you. You want them to cry out in anguished surprise. You want their tears and emotions. As much as an author must make their readers laugh, they must make them cry. If you can’t do that, then you’re not writing to your reader’s expectations.

Just remember, dear writer, that your story is one of contrasts. You don’t dwell in the low point any longer then a held breath. Somewhere there has to be hope – and this is how you make the reader see that light. Later, you can have laughing embraces and joyful reunions. The triumph that comes with the sacrifice you have just had your readers endure with you.

Welcome to the low point. The place that either makes your heroes – or breaks them.

Blade Dancer – now out from Champagne Books
Waiting Weapon – coming this December


Kimber Chin said...

I LOVED this post.
I think it is my fave of all the ones so far posted.
It is so true
and SO tough to write.
Sometimes I cry when I write those scenes.
I like to think the readers can feel the tears though.

In Invisible (my next book),
we start with a death,
a death the two main characters
spend the entire novel coming to terms with.
It was a tough novel to write.