What your characters need most
As you know, if you’ve been following this blog, I’ve been going through some personal unpleasantness recently. I was living in Kyiv just before the war started and have been moving around in uncertainty since. My apartment in Kyiv is in a spot that easily could be targeted by the Russians, so I wait with great anxiety every time I hear about bombings in the city. In my heart, I know I have it so much better than a great number of people, but that doesn’t always make things easier.
So what does this have to do with writing, you’re wondering.
Well, it’s made me think about what’s really important. What can I live without? Just how important are my clothes to me? My computer monitor and keyboard. The books I’ve left behind.
In the end, they are just things—things that can be replaced. Yeah, some of them can’t be replaced with something identical, but I can buy another skirt that might make me feel as good as my sparkly butterfly skirt did (which I would only wear when I was feeling particularly crappy as a kind of lift of my middle finger to negative emotions and the world at large). But what cannot be replaced is the what I have with me—my husband. My children. My friends.
When I think about all the things I have lost—possibly temporarily, possibly forever, we’ll see how the war goes—I know these people will always love me and be there for me. They are my strength. They are what get me through these uncertain times. When I feel down, I get a hug from my husband or go and have coffee with a friend.
Being a writer, I wonder about my characters. I’ve put them in difficult situations as well. What is it that’s going to get them through this? Where are they going to get the emotional support they are going to need? And how can I show them getting this support without asking for it, and even when they, themselves, don’t know that they need it? (Because we all know that if you have to ask for it, it simply doesn’t mean as much.)
If my character is getting that emotional support from someone like a parent or sibling, how can I turn that around so that they are getting it from the love-interest instead (you do remember that I write romance, right?)?
And what are my characters going to have to give up to be with the other person—because that’s an essential part of any long-lasting relationship. What are they going to have go through, to deal with, to go out of their way to do (or not do) in order to win and keep the love of the other?
It is ultimately love and relationships that are important in this world. Things we can replace, but people you cannot. And because those relationships with people are so vitally important, they cannot come easily. You have to work hard to build the relationship and you have to continue working hard to maintain it.
So, what are your characters going to do to win the love they need? What are they going to give up? Where are they going to find the strength to get through these difficult times?