What's the worst thing your character can think about a situation?
In previous posts I’ve discussed the importance of putting obstacles in front of characters as a way to bring conflict into your story. Another way to create conflict is to consider multiple ways a character could view a situation--then have her choose the worst one. Why do this? Because how your character responds to this choice shows your readers who that character truly is.
For example, let’s say that Gloria, your protagonist, has just exited a deli with a bag of warm bagels when she spots Alison, a classmate from her weekly photography class, walking half a block ahead. Gloria picks up her phone and dials Alison’s number, only to see Alison screen the call and toss her phone into her purse without answering it.
What does Gloria think about this situation?
If she thinks, “Alison’s probably thinking about something important so doesn’t have time to chat right now,” where’s the conflict?
However, imagine that Gloria thinks, “Alison just sent me to voice mail! Maybe she doesn’t like me!” Now you have something interesting for your readers to chew on.
The way you have Gloria respond to her line of thought will show your readers what kind of person she is. Does she throw a bagel at Alison and make a joke about it? Does she go back to her office, shut her door, and eat the entire bag of bagels? Does she avoid Alison in class, or does she make a point of sitting next to her and chatting her up? Those questions are for you to answer, but how you choose to do so is a wonderful way to provide insight into Gloria.
This blog post originally appeared on CreateSpace.com. Reprinted with permission. 2018 CreateSpace, a DBA of On-Demand Publishing, LLC. All rights reserved.