Complications and Character
By Joshua Graham
In real life, we hate complications. We avoid them like the plague and pay good money to eliminate them from our lives. We do all this in the hopes of reducing stress, optimizing our work, maximizing our time and productivity, and reducing drama. If we succeed, we are happy.
But if you’re reading a book that has managed to do the same, you’ll be disappointed. Why? Because a story without complications may sound like an ideal way to live, but to read about? It’s plain boring. If every at every turn, your character succeeds, and only good things happen to her, soon enough you feel tired of reading about it.
What makes reading a page-turning, keep you up all night experience is when bad things happen to your beloved characters, and then even worse things happen. Holiday Inn used to have a slogan: “The best surprise is no surprise.” While that may be true of hotel quality, that certainly does not apply to fiction. The best surprises in a novel are not simply those which catch you completely off guard—because anyone can throw a random monkey wrench into a plot—but rather, those that make sense. You know, the ones that make you smack your forehead and think, “Of COURSE! I should have realized that!”
So the next time you are faced with a complication in life, rather than get upset, try thinking about the character you wish to build in your own life. After all, character is defined by the tough choices we make under duress. Take your emotions and harness them into action, taking responsibility, and becoming the character you wish to be.
Will you be a responder, who takes charge of his own life and makes the best of a bad situation? Or will you be a whiner who does nothing but complain about his bad luck, how unfair everyone and life is, while waiting for people to soothe you and commiserate?
As and author, I’ve learned that I can determine what a character will be, based on their actions under duress, their tough choices. But I’ve also learned that I can chose my own real-life character, as long as I understand that my emotions do not define me, but my choices and actions.
Think about what character you want to choose for yourself today.
Joshua Graham is the award winning author of the #1 Amazon and Barnes & Noble legal thriller BEYOND JUSTICE. His latest book DARKROOM won a First Prize award in the Forward National Literature award and was an award-winner in the USA Book News “Bests Books 2011” awards.