Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Major Decisions!

The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, #1)

Let's face it, if Katniss never volunteered to take her sister's place in the Hunger Games, the story would'v been totally different...and probably not as exciting.  

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Harry Potter, #1)

What would Harry Potter's life been like if he'd decided not to go to Hogwart's?  

Twilight (Twilight, #1)

What if Bella didn't move to Forks to live with her dad?

It all comes down to this.  Major decisions lead to exciting adventures which then lead to great characters and an even greater story.

What decisions are your character's making?  And maybe even more important is when are they making them?  

Major character decisions need to come somewhere near the beginning of the story.  If not, the reader will most likely get bored.  Also, your MC needs to make the decision for themselves.  Don't let other character's take that away from them.  Every time someone else makes a decision for your MC, it can weaken them.

If, by chance, another character does make the decision, what choices does that give your MC?  This is the only time other character's should make decisions...if it leads to worse choices and a better adventure. 

Make your character take the hard road.  Put them through the worst and then do it again.  

No matter what they go through, though, make sure they can make it back out.  Realistically.  And make sure your MC leads the way.  If they aren't leading, kill off those above them or at least make those above them fail miserably.  Then the MC can choose to take charge.  

Kind of sad, but that will make a great story!

Do you have any advice to add for making great character's through major decisions?

For those who are wondering about the twist in my flash fiction, the boy releases the fish to get his real body back.  So technically, no, the fish doesn't become the man.  The boy becomes the man, but he couldn't have done it without the fish...and he's been searching forever to find that fish.  When the boy makes the bowl teeter and fall, he wears a sly grin because Gran isn't in the shop.  And she's the only one who knows his secret.  


  1. This is so true, and I love your examples! I also love the line, "Kind of sad, but that will make a great story!" We're such meanies to our characters :)

  2. I love throwing my characters into horrible situations. It's so mean, but how will they grow if they don't have hard decisions to face? I like reading books with characters who have a really hard time making decisions. They try to figure out what the best one will be, and often choose wrong. It usually leads to a bigger adventure, and I like how they find themselves along the way. Just keep it realistic, like you said. :) Great post!

  3. Excellent point! I love being mean to them, though. They grow that way!

  4. Not only do big decisions and rough roads make for good stories, they help readers connect with the character and really feel for him/her. And I agree that major decisions must be made by the character or else he just comes off as a wimp. Great post!

  5. Jess-it's kind of fun to be mean. A good fun because we know what great stuff will follow!

    Chantele-Isn't it all about the realism. I can't stand it when the all impossible happens and no one bats an eye.

    Colene-Growth is great :)

    Reece-Thanks for pointing out the character-reader connection. That's definitely important!

  6. I hate to think that the things I do to my characters as mean, but I guess they are. One of them constantly embarrasses herself, another one gets tossed in prison and another one kills his best friend. Wow, I am mean.

  7. you're absolutely right. Great points, Michelle--love it~ :o) <3

  8. Yep, I agree about the choice thing, very good.

    Ah, interesting about your flashfic! If you only had had more words, right? My flashfic was interpreted diff from how I wrote it too, but then, I decided it didn't matter. Luckily, it read ok both ways. :) (I wanted the fangfish and rotwater as part of the magical Test, not as part of Kayra's malfunctioning magick. Her job was to protect the boy...and she passed. Barely.)

  9. Shari-way to frighten your character's! Don't worry mean only brings the best out of them :)

    Leigh-I'm glad you like it :)

    Carol-That's cool about your flashfic. Isn't it funny how the interpretation can get so mixed up because of a loss of words? Good thing novels have more leniency!

  10. It really is all about conflict! The emotional and the physical. Great examples. :) And I really liked your flash fic piece. Very intriguing!

  11. Good point! I have no problem being mean, but I'm going to have to think more on having my MC make the decisions. That is definitely an important thing to consider. Thanks!

  12. What keeps me engaged is finding out why a character made a specific decision. Timely post for me as well. Thanks for clarifying your FF piece. I think I had it wrong!

  13. This is also timely for me as well. I have a lot to think about now!!

  14. Donea-Thanks on both accounts. I'm glad you liked the example's.

    Jeigh-I got that idea from a screen writing book called, "Save the Cat." It's a great book.

    Kari-I hated taking away the interpretation of my ff, but there were so many people confused. I thought it'd be fun to put my intention behind it :) Ooh, and I like that you mentioned the why behind each decision. That's great.

    Heather-I'm glad I could give you something to think about. Like we need more in our minds, right? :)

  15. A friend recently read my WIP, and at the end she said "Why do bad things keep happening to her?" Ahhh... because that's what makes a story interesting. Getting the character from bad to worse situations and then watching them get out. I had to wonder what kind of books she'd been reading.

  16. Major decision always get me writing...sometimes not deciding is just as bad.
    Edge of Your Seat Romance

  17. Sari-not all books have major decisions. Especially if it's more of a coming of age story. Maybe that's what your friend reads.

    Raquel-Good point about indecision. That can also be tormenting and suspenseful!


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