What do you do when you want to write a short story but coddle your characters so much that even the antagonist/villain becomes a milquetoast and nothing ever happens in the story world? I think I understand a story’s building blocks. I’ve read dozens of books on the subject. But applying that knowledge has been impossible.
I try to put on my sadist boots and go to town on these character creations. I try to create characters I don’t like. But the more I delve into even the most disagreeable characters, the more I can see why they might behave in a certain way. Then, they don’t seem so disagreeable any more. Then, I want all of my characters to get together and sing kumbaya.
There’s something almost pathological about my inability to incorporate unlikable traits, hurt my fake babies, or challenge them in any meaningful way. But not doing so means I essentially have no story. No story anyone would want to read anyway. And certainly no story I can get excited about writing.
I’ve been trying to crack this nut for more than one year now. One. Agonizing. Head-banging-against-the-wall. Year.
Because I’ve been unable to do this, I’m now trying to understand why I won’t torture these pretend people. It’s completely ridiculous. I don’t seem to have a problem heaping verbal abuse on very real, very aggravating traffic. Why should I have a problem releasing my inner sadist on fake people in a fake world? It’s maddening!
One day, I hope to create deeply flawed beings and heap on the abuse. So far, the only character I’ve been able to torture is me. I’m not amused.