By Sam Thorne, Storytime Editor-in-Chief
- frustrate your main characters’ (MCs) aims
- show what’s important to your MCs by creating inner conflict
Clare checked her texts for traffic updates and found one from Mark, sent just a couple of minutes ago.Geoff’s off sick. Any chance you can get in early for hand-over?She flicked a glance at the time—07:15—and bit her lip. So long as she got out now, and the A316 was clear, she’d have a few minutes alone with him before shift started. To hand over, of course. She thumbed back On my way and shoved her mobile into her back pocket.Clare didn’t hear any movement from Lisa’s bedroom, but picked her way towards the front door nonetheless, treading only on the non-creaking floorboards. She passed the hall table, sliding her keys into her palm. She had her hand on the latch when she heard a sniff. Her heart fell.Don’t look round.‘Clare?’ Lisa’s voice had that tell-tale waver. ‘Have you got a minute?’Damn it!‘It’s just…I heard from Joe last night. He’s not doing well.’Clare longed to be able to say ‘sorry to hear that’ and make a run for it, but Joe had been ill. And if it were her brother going in and out of hospital, she’d need a bit of support.Suppressing the sigh, she turned and gave Lisa a hug.
1) Next time you’re up at two in the morning, replaying an argument in your head and gnashing your teeth, get up and write down some of the things you wish you’d said. If nothing else, it might help you sleep better. Anger-induced insomnia is usually a sign of repressed resentment. Tap into that resentment more closely and you’ll find a golden stockpile of material for internal conflict.
2) Make a list of love-to-hate characters in movies and TV. What makes them so infuriating? Can you transplant that behaviour/trait to a different context?
3) Read books on coping with idiots at the office. They feature long lists of aggravating behaviours which you can apply to just about any situation. Some good guides are:
Dealing with Difficult People (Drs Rick Brinkman & Rick Kirschner)
The Way of the Rat: A Survival Guide to Office Politics (by Joep P.M. Schrijvers)
4) Finally, watch and listen to stand-up comedians. They usually have some kind of routine that kicks off with some variation of: ‘I can’t stand it when…’ If they make you laugh, jot their point down. If you can identify with it, so will many, many others.