Squashing our Protective Urges

by Ronie Kendig from Double Crit editing service

I work in the children’s department at a national department store, which means I see a lot of adorable little faces smiling up at me quite often. But every now and then, I see a situation that I know is doomed to end badly. My urge is to rush to the rescue. Protect that child (and yes, the store from a law suit! LOL). We all have instincts and urges to protect others. Unfortunately, those very urges can stifle or even kill our fiction.

Recently I read a chapter for one of my critique partners. The story was enjoyable and the writing very good. However, I felt the author was protecting the heroine by not wanting to push her. How often have you done that? Go to write a scene and you stop, thinking, There is no way I can do that to my heroine/hero.

Why not? Why can’t you put your characters through the grinder? It happens in real life every day. I challenge all writers to push your characters PAST their limits, see what they’re made of. What you—as a writer—are made of. It’s not easy to release that much pain and agony on a “person” you’ve grown to love and care about. And yep, it certainly could alter your story. But here’s what you need to consider: is it going to make your character stronger? Is it going to make your ending excel? If so, then maybe you need to take that lonely, dark road. Many times story-altering changes like this will not only deepen your fiction, but grow you as a writer.

Double Crit is a unique freelance editing service that offers high-level critiques of fiction book proposals and manuscripts from two experienced editors. Whether you’re preparing for a conference or getting ready to submit your manuscript to editors or agents, we can help.