Your Main Character's Job Is to Fall to the Bottom of a Deep Pit of TROUBLE

“Your Main Character's Job Is to Fall to the Bottom of a Deep Pit of TROUBLE" by Joan Y. Edwards

When you write your story, is your main character doing his job? You say to me, "What do you mean?" In every story, the main character's job is to fall to the bottom of a deep pit of TROUBLE. He can't go back to what was. He can't get to what he wants. He is clueless and helpless until he CHANGES.

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 in the same position? 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 and metal spikes to assist him in climbing 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. 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. We are 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 in it, if you do.

Celebrate you.
Never Give Up
Joan Y. Edwards
Copyright © 2014 Joan Y. Edwards

Flip Flap Floodle, the Never Give Up duck - He keeps playing his song even in the darkest pit of ole Mr. Fox's belly.

Joan’s Elder Care Guide, Release December 2014 by 4RV Publishing

For other articles to inspire you and your writing, read Joan's Never Give Up Blog



Kathleen Moulton said...

Joan, you've got me thinking! I will try to post a paragraph later.

Meanwhile, as always, your posts are always inspiring and entertaining!

Susan Hornbach said...

Hey Joan , thanks for your terrific post. I was revising last night and one of my characters actually fell into a deep pit. Now he has to depend on someone he doesn't trust to get him out. Holy Smoly what will happen?

Linda A. said...

Using a pit to represent a main character's failure and then having the character find a way to climb out to represent his change and recovery is a great visual image for writers. Thanks for sharing it!

Linda Wilson said...

Hi Joan, thanks for the great post. I'm saving and printing it so I can refer to it while digging my deep dark pit for my poor character.

Joan Y. Edwards said...

Dear Kathleen,
Thank you for writing. I am glad I got you thinking!b i look forward to reading your paragraph later. Thanks for saying I inspire and entertain you.


Joan Y. Edwards said...

Dear Susan,
Thank you for writing. You are welcome for the post. It is funny that one of your characters actually fell into a big pit! Having to depend upon someone he doesn't trust to get him out would create heightened emotions and good reading for your readers. Excellent.


Joan Y. Edwards said...

Dear Linda Andersen,
Thank you for writing. I am glad that you think having a character fall into a pit and change to find his way out is a good visual to help writers. You are very welcome.

Joan Y. Edwards said...

Dear Linda Wilson,
Thank you for writing. You are welcome for the post. I am glad that you printed it out to help you dig the deep dark pits for your poor characters. Have fun!


Shirley Corder said...

Hi Joan,
Thank you for this amusing yet inspiring post. I love the way you refer to the author and the character as a team, working together to find a way out of the pit. (And of course, the author every now and then pushes him back down! Sneaky.)

Debbie A Byrne said...

Good points! Something for me to work on.

Joan Y. Edwards said...

Dear Debbie,
Thank you for writing. I'm glad these points are helping you.

Never Give Up

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