LTN011 – Torture The Reader To The End – Characters

LTN011 – Torture The Reader To The End – Characters

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In this episode I reveal ways novelists can keep readers reading by torturing the characters readers love.

The complete TORTURE THE READER TO THE END series- click on titles to go there

  1. Plot 
  2. Characters (you’re here)
  3. Scenes
  4. Sentences and Grammar

SHOW NOTES

Some General Comments on Characterization—

Your character’s rollercoaster ride is called a character arc.

  • Character Arc 101 – characterization is revealed in the choices a human being makes under pressure, the greater the pressure, the deeper the revelation. Create a character and put them under pressure.
  • Which comes first, character or plot? The building of plot and character is a continuously interactive process.
  • Create characters that are motivated by strong emotions. Emotion is drama; drama is emotion. Motivate your characters with undying love, obsessive behavior, ambition, ecstasy, vengeance, grief, desire for justice, desire to put things right.
  • Create characters that are real and irresistible. Show them at their best. Show them at their worst. `

5 Torture Tactics To Use On Your Characters

1. Force your character out of his comfort zone. Force your character to change.

We don’t like change. Yet, if there is one constant in this world it’s this: things change. Not only does a protagonist change the outcome of events; in the process, he is changed himself. Ask yourself: Where does your character NOT want to be? That’s where you need to put them. Torture your protagonist with change.

2. Wound Your Character, Make Them Vulnerable.

  • Your character must be wounded when they are introduced or they must suffer a wound during the conflict.
  • Your character has to have a vulnerability. Even Superman was vulnerable to kryptonite.
  • Know your character’s greatest fear and exploit it throughout the story. Most importantly, your character has to face their greatest fear in the climax.
  • Make your character multidimensional. Put your character at war with themselves.
  • Give your character a terrible secret. What is the one thing your character hopes no one will ever find out about them?

3. Create a crucible so that your character cannot just walk away.

A crucible answers the question: “Why doesn’t your hero just walk away?” Think of a crucible as a cage.

A crucible can be physical:
They’re on a space ship halfway to Mars.
They’re on an island, shipwrecked, or hindered from leaving by a storm.

A crucible can be moral:
It would be wrong for them to walk away.
There is a debt to be repaid.

A crucible can be psychological:
A battle of wills.
Stubborn determination.

Torture your reader by putting your character in a cage so that they have no choice but to endure the tortures you inflict upon them.

4. Give your character an opponent capable of crushing them. (The Villain)

In many ways, villains and heroes are very much alike.

Both are—
Motivated to action.
Clever and resourceful.
Have special talents.
Often times wounded.

  • The difference between the hero and the villain is how they respond to setbacks, failures, opportunities, etc.
  • Villains act out of hubris; they are not idealistic. They are motivated by self-interests, greed, lust, lust for power, vanity, narcissism, and so on.
  • Villains sow the seeds of their own destruction.

WE MAY NOT LIKE WHAT THE VILLAIN DOES, BUT IT’S IMPORTANT THAT WE UNDERSTAND WHY THEY ARE DOING IT.

The villain must be able to defeat your character, or the climax means nothing. Torture your reader by creating a villain who is more than capable of defeating your character.

5. Craft Characters Readers Can Love.

How do you create a sympathetic character?

  • The key is in understanding compassion.
  • Compassion is hardwired into the fabric of human experience.
  • Compassion means “to carry over,” the suffering of others carries over to us because we are human.
  • You are the key: “Where you stumble and fall, there you discover the gold.” In other words, if it hurts you, it will hurt your readers.
  • Make your character suffer and your readers will love you for it!

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