We’ve all been hurt by something. Think about the experiences you have gone through and how they have shaped your world view. Perhaps something that you never considered a year terrifies you today. If you were in a car accident you may require everyone wear a seat belt before you start driving. If you were robed you may double check the doors before you go to bed.
These sad events don’t even have to happen to us. Witnessing a friend’s murder (something that happens a lot on the big screen) can have life changing consequences.
We all deal with hardships in different ways. Some people rise to the challenge. Others shrink back in fear. You’ve seen people who evaluate the meaning of life and decide to take more risks.
We all do things out of a need to survive. An outspoken person learns to “quiet down” in order to keep a job. When you write your story you need not divulge all of this information. You wouldn’t want to as it would drag the action. Knowing will allow you to add richness to your character and give your audience something to relate to. We don’t want to see perfect people. We want to see someone who has been through something. Even the happiest of characters have experienced some setbacks in their lives. What are those?
Think about your favorite characters. How were they flawed? Do we find out what happened to them? How early on in the story is the information revealed?
Homework: Pick an event in your life that changed your perspective. It resulted in a “new you” so to speak. This doesn’t mean everything about you changed, but you resolved to do something differently. (It doesn’t have to be anything like death. It could be a series of bad grades, getting fired, ending a marriage, or having to move away from loved ones). What about your old normal did you have to adjust in order to become this “new you”?
Write about a life changing event that happens in your protagonist’s life before the story begins. What survival skills emerged from this event?