To Suffer or Not to Suffer? That is the Question
Updated: Aug 1, 2019
Now that we are back from the holiday break, we are going over revisions for submissions to the anthology. I’m really impressed with a lot of the stories we have received and can’t wait to share them with the world. Reading over my second part of The Brave Blacksmith tale, I realize how much I like the story. As authors, we tend to be our own worst critics, going over and over our work and never being quite satisfied with it. I know I have certainly read over plenty of my stories and thought, “Who the hell wrote this garbage?” For once, this is not the case.
I have found that the world I created is interesting, the story has adventure, magic, tragedy, romance, and action, but mostly I am impressed with my characters. I dug deep for this one, making my characters truly suffer and try to move forward while being emotionally scarred.
I like to write broken characters, which is not uncommon. But sometimes broken can’t be mended. You can break your leg and it will eventually heal. It will take time but before you know it, it’s as good as new. If your leg is ripped off, however, it won’t grow back (unless you have some convenient magical healing powers). You have to deal with it. You have to learn how to hop around on one leg in a world full of two-legged people. A lot of my characters have one leg and by the end of the story, they’ll still have one leg, but they can hop on it.
Blacksmith has gone through some horrors in his past. Is there hope that he can find happiness again? Maybe, but his experiences changed him and he will never be quite the same. Characters should reflect real life and I find this is certainly true with people. You may have gone through a traumatic ordeal and come through in the end, but you not only learned from your experience, you may have changed the way you see the world or how you interact with people.
Another example is my character Alexus from my novel Love Me Today, Kill Me Tomorrow. She suffers from debilitating depression and suicidal thoughts. Though she eventually falls in love and has a family, her depression doesn’t just disappear. She struggles with it daily. She works every day to grasp her happiness, trying to find the good in her world that will help her deal with the silent voices screaming in her head that she is not good enough, that she doesn’t deserve all she has. She has one leg but damn if she isn’t hopping on it.
Do all characters have to have a horrible backstory or suffer greatly to be relatable or interesting? Certainly not. I like my fun, spunky characters who are always cheerful and see the best in every situation or every person just as much as I like my broken sufferers. Upbeat stories grab my attention as much as any other. Characters with humor in every situation, even dire ones, are the best! Does this mean that The Brave Blacksmith tale is always dark and dreary? No way! There are some humorous, fun, and even spiritual moments woven throughout. This story makes you think, makes you question yourself and your world, and that is what makes it an entertaining read. And an entertaining read is what we are all looking for, right?
To conclude, my dear fellow writers, you might hate your work at first. You may write for yourself and never want to share it with the world. You will be your own worst critic. But that doesn’t mean your work is crap. If you aren’t happy with your story, clean it up, but never toss it out or give up writing altogether. Your peppy or brooding characters are a part of you, after all. Share that with the world or at the very least, be satisfied that you did an amazing job. Anyone can write a story, but only you can write your story your way.