G is for Give Your Characters Trouble

Meme created by Erin Penn

During several of the Craft of Writing courses at the SAGA Writer’s Conference (sagaconference.com next one scheduled for July 2024), the Faculty describe many things to give your characters: a solid background, emotions, friends and enemies, goals. But most of all, Trouble.

When things slow down, blow up their lives. Physical and emotional bombs – mix and match appropriately to genre. “I’m pregnant.” changes everything as much as a car explosion, especially when the character saying it is male. Explosions. Obstacles. A child who is sick at school and needs to be picked up ASAP, while the hero needs to stop a vampire coven before they wake at nightfall.

Every three chapters or so stop and brainstorm five to ten things of “What is the worst thing that can happen?” Pick one or two things from the list. And give your characters a gift that keeps on giving.

Below is a previous meme I made when I was offering advice to a young writer. Since all writing is in the author’s head, making problems can be difficult for young authors. It’s like they are attacking their alter egos. Until you can distant yourself from your characters, Giving Trouble can be challenging. But Giving Trouble is absolutely necessary.

Meme created by Erin Penn

6 thoughts to “G is for Give Your Characters Trouble”

  1. Love your meme! I wrote a fantasy (ghost of a chance -https://www.amazon.com/dp/1534981861 ) where I land in a dimension where some of my characters pay me back for giving them trouble! Ouch! 🙂 am glad you liked my post.

  2. This is something I greatly believe in. All characters need to go through some kind of trouble. That’s how they grow and what makes the story interesting.

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