Sometimes a jolt of understanding can come out of the blue. Or out of the darkness in this case. Out of Star Trek: Into Darkness, more specifically. I went to see the movie this week.
When writing a novel, they say you need to put your character through one catastrophe after another until they are literally or metaphorically at the brink of death before they emerge triumphant and forever changed.
I've spent a fair bit of time creating my main character, Sam, and at this point I quite like her. I feel almost motherly toward her, and that's bringing out my protective instincts. I have been somewhat reluctant to let anything really bad happen to her as I map out my plot.
The writers of Star Trek: Into Darkness obviously didn't feel that way about the young Captain Kirk. He is demoted, duped, ambushed, nearly asphyxiated, betrayed, attacked, and lethally radiated before the triumphant ending. They did everything but drop a safe on him.
And it was so much fun.
It was as I was walking out of the theater that understanding struck. I'm going to have to put Sam through the ringer. And that's okay. Actually, it's necessary for her to grow as I want her to, and for the rest of us to enjoy reading about her.
I'm not sure yet exactly what dreadful things will befall poor Sam, but I am newly resolved to let her have it. I might even drop a safe on her.
I really need to start seeing more movies.