Make Them Suffer

Sunset over a beach

I reread an early chapter from my current work in progress this morning, and it was good. I was writing at a level above what I’m writing at right now. I was trying to figure out the difference and then I realized what it was, I was making my protagonist really suffer. I was sticking it to him, breaking him, making him hurt.

Lately, I’ve almost been feeling bad for the poor guy. He’s been through a lot, and I was giving him a little break… In retrospect, I feel that was a mistake and I have to make him suffer more, break him down, push him to his limits.

This novel is literary fiction, not genre, so it’s a different kind of suffering from my usual version. I’m pushing him mentally, psychologically, and even sometimes physically. Thing is, he isn’t a fighter, not a physical one at least. When he gets in a fight it’s in a Wal-Mart parking lot and he gets beat down.

Even in my genre work though, the suffering makes the work better. I realize that this works when I read too. I like breaks from it, but those breaks work because of the suffering. I promise you when I get to editing Resource Economies I will up the suffering there, a great deal. For now, I have to remember that Remy lives to suffer, that, as the Buddhists say, existence is suffering.

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