|Photo credit: jdxyw on Flickr|
You see, the most interesting and exciting stories are those in which everything that could conceivably go wrong for the protagonist does— and then some.
Don't believe me? Let's take a quick look at the beginning of the Harry Potter series.
In the very beginning of The Sorcerer's (or Philosopher's) Stone, we meet young Harry, who lives in the cupboard under the stairs at his highly unlikable aunt and uncle's house. As a wizard who doesn't know he's a wizard living with his Muggle (non-magic) relatives, it's expected that there should be a couple of problems along the way.
An inexperienced writer might have skipped most of the beginning introductory things that Rowling included and gone straight to the inciting incident--Harry receiving his letter from Hogwarts. There are very few problems in this kind of beginning so I imagine it'd be a pretty short first chapter.
A good writer might have created a couple of problems for Harry such as using his annoying cousin Dudley to lead to an argument (and punishment) from his aunt and uncle and perhaps making it more difficult for Harry to receive his letter.
But master writer Rowling takes out all the stops and makes it difficult for Harry at every turn. Dudley isn't just annoying— he's a spoiled brat and a bully who can do no wrong in his parents' eyes. When Harry is permitted to go to the zoo, he accidentally releases a snake into the public. When his letters start to come in, his aunt and uncle aren't just irritated— they're downright terrified and make it their mission to keep the letters from reaching Harry, which of course eventually leads to them running away until a certain half-giant with a pink umbrella hunts them down.
Much more interesting than the version from the inexperienced non-sadist writer, I think.
But creating one problem after another for the protagonist doesn't always come naturally to every writer, and when it doesn't, it may be time to sit down and tap into your inner sadist. How to do so will be covered in Friday's post.
Have you tapped into your inner sadist?