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Does Your Main Character Fall into the Bottom of a Deep Pit of Trouble?

Your Main Character Can Climb Out of Any Deep, Dark Pit - Image Copyright 2014 Joan Y. Edwards

Your Main Character Can Climb Out of Any Deep, Dark Pit – Image Copyright 2014 Joan Y. Edwards

“Does Your Main Character Fall into the Bottom of a Deep Pit of Trouble?” by Joan Y. Edwards

Go ahead. Drop him in there. Drop your main character into the deepest, darkest, most despicable pit you can dream up for him. In every story you write, your main character must get into so much trouble that it is like a deep, dark pit with no easy way out. He can’t go back to what was. He can’t get to what he wants. He is clueless and helpless until he CHANGES. He has to have an “AHA” moment when he suddenly realizes what he needs to do to face his problem, regardless of the consequences.

What does the main character do while he’s down there? Let’s name your main character. What about Jeremy Kidd?

  • He’s a 16-year-old junior in high school whose parents are moving to New York City and he refuses to go.
  • He’s an 81-year-old man whose daughter wants him to go to a rest home and he refuses to go.
  • He’s a six-year-old boy whose father tells him he has to play t-ball when he wants to play football.

Suppose your main character is female. Let’s call her Sadie Tripp.

  • Sadie is a seventeen year old senior whose parents died in a car wreck three months before graduation. She refuses to go to school because she is so depressed.
  • She’s 74 and wants to open her own ice cream parlor and her children try to stop her.
  • She’s 5 years old and her parents won’t let her have a puppy.

For now your main character’s figuring out ways to get out of this pit. Does he spin a web like Spiderman? Fly with a cape like Superman? Crawl around on the floor with a magnifying glass looking for clues like Sherlock Holmes? No, none of those. They’ve all been done before. Do something different. Put a twist on it.

What does your main character do that causes him to land at the bottom of the pit? Was it pride that he didn’t listen to the wisdom of others who had been in a similar situation? Was he stubborn and refuse to obey the authority figures? Did he get so angry that he literally drove a car, lost control and landed in a pit? Was it plain stupidity that he didn’t even look where he was going? What does he see? What does he sense? What sounds does he hear? What does his body do? Why does he think this is the end of the world for him?

The pit is dark and deep with no light showing the way out. Your main character is going to have to climb up and feel his way, inch by inch from the bottom all the way to the top. What will he do when he has no hammer or metal spikes to help him climb out? Your main character seems to get himself into predicaments easily and often, but never as bad as this.

As the author, you might hesitate about putting your character into a tough predicament. I am here to tell you to relax. Each character you create is clever and resourceful. (Just like you.) He will figure out a fascinating way to get out of this pit in a short amount of time. Why? Because you are the author. You and your main character can do what no one else has ever done before. You are the only ones who can give us your interpretation of this world.

The world is waiting to hear about how your character survived his “big pit” experience. How does he change? What does he believe now that he didn’t believe before? What new skill did he learn? Who did he learn to trust?

Don’t worry about your character. He can climb out of any deep dark pit you put him into. Believe in you and your characters. You can do it.

It would be great to see how you would write a paragraph or a first page of a story using one of the character descriptions above or your own. Please share your paragraph or first page in the comment area. I’d love to read them. I’ll point out a Blue Ribbon Passage (one I especially like) for each passage shared with me in the comment area.

Celebrate you.
Never Give Up
Joan Y. Edwards

Copyright © 2014 Joan Y. Edwards


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6 Responses

  1. Joan,
    You have some great suggestions here for creating characters that grow and change by overcoming the trouble they get in. Thanks for sharing with us.


    • Dear Linda,
      Thank you for writing. I’m glad I gave you great suggestions for creating characters that grow and change by overcoming the trouble they get in.
      You’re welcome for my sharing. It is a privilege to be able to do so.

      Never Give Up


  2. You must have read my mind this week! I am worried I have my main character in too much trouble–betrayal, murder, mystery shadow man, drugs, dying mother. I threw in everything but the kitchen sink! I worry the readers will think it’s just way too much to handle. Does that happen? Thanks for the re-assuring article.!!


    • Dear Janet,
      Thanks for reading my blog and for leaving a comment. Just don’t put all of this happening to your main character all at one time and save the most emotionally staggering thing that would make her/him sink to the bottom to be the last thing and I believe you’re going to be fine and so will your main character. Remember the most awful thing is the straw that makes him/her change. The main character like most of us resists change!

      Celebrate you and your writing
      Never Give Up


  3. Hi Joan! my name is Mathilda, Tilly for short. I was born on a cattle ranch in Colorado. There were seven of us born that day,or it could have been night, I can’t say for sure. Puppies are born with their eyes closed you know.. my name is Marie, and Tilly was my dog. It her story my book encompasses. From moving from the city to a ranch, rattle snakes, new horses, and tons of adventures.Her adventures began in 1994, and have continued to her long sleep in 2007, and carried on by her best friend Spot, and down to Vincent and Toby our dogs of today..such adventures the readers will discover..Sincerely Marie


    • Dear Marie,
      Thank you for writing and sharing a little about your story about dogs on a cattle ranch. Neat how you incorporated a little science (closed eyes when puppies are born). Rattlesnakes could create havoc for a puppy! Good luck with your writing.

      Celebrate you
      Never Give Up


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