Thursday, April 8, 2010

Setbacks

Well, we got slammed back into winter today. About 6 inches of snow. Wet snow. Slushy, wet, blowy, stinging snow.


Sigh.

My just-coming-up tulips and daffodils are probably toast.

On the plus side, we know it won't stay long! Right? Right. It's just a setback. (I had to Google whether this was 1 or 2 words, or if it had a hyphen. FYI if it's a noun, it's 1 word, the verb gets 2 words, no hyphen. Who knew?)

Setbacks may not be fun in real life, but they can be so much fun to throw at our characters. I feel a little guilty when I giggle as I throw them curve ball after curve ball. Is it fun because I know they're going to be all right by the end of the book? Or do I have an evil, dark side? Hmmm.

I think one of the more interesting setbacks in one ms involves a dead, mutilated rat. Another ms has a setback involving a very cool gun that fires fun & deadly blue light. :)

Do you enjoy throwing setbacks at your characters? What's the best curve ball you've thrown at them? You don't have to give away any secrets - just a snippet!

88 comments:

  1. Absolutely! There's so much fun in throwing curve balls at our characters.

    I'm kind of a "to make matters worse" writer. My MC in one of my novels was trapped in a house, and to make matters worse, I also lit that house on fire. I guess that's pretty mean of me, but I figure, why give them just one obstacle? It's more challenging if they go through more than one issue at a time. (My other book has my MC dealing with romantic heartache and mourning a loss at the same time, for instance.) Always fun.

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  2. Nevermind the tulips, I want to know how the poor rat ended up dead and mutilated!! hehe :o)

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  3. I do enjoy giving my characters setbacks, but I sure don't enjoy getting them myself.

    Today has been a setback kind of day. Ugh.

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  4. Oh, my poor characters. Nothin' but set-backs for at least half the book. One step forward, two steps back. One of my MCs lost her luggage then had her wallet stolen. Poor girl.

    Hope your tulips survive!

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  5. I can't wait to get up to the point where I can give characters setbacks. And don't you hate it when you think Spring has arrived and then NOT. Today was gorgeous in NM, though.
    Karen

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  6. I hate when it turns cold after the weather's been nice. It does that a lot here in NH. But so far we've had a good spring. Hope your tulips are okay, mine are just coming up.

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  7. Shelley - I love your style! To make matters worse... I just may have to try it :)

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  8. As far as setbacks are concerned, better my character than me. :)

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  9. Niki - lol :) That was definitely fun. The poor rat did not come to a good end!

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  10. Stephanie - real setbacks do stink! Hope your tomorrow is better than your today :)

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  11. I'm so sorry about your snow - big bummer!

    Yes, it's all about setbacks, isn't it? In my current wip, I think my favorite setback is when the mc gets kidnapped as they're trying to race back for the rendezvous with their time machine so they can get back home.

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  12. Mary - I hope the poor tulips make it!

    The poor girl in your book - hope she finds the things she needs :)

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  13. Karen - I'm glad at least someone had nice weather!

    I bet you'll have a good time torturing your poor characters - it's fun :)

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  14. Aubrie - it does really stink when winter comes flying back in. We'd had some fantastic weather 2 weeks ago. Hopefully the cold doesn't last too long.

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  15. VR - so true! At least we know their setbacks will be temporary - and they will prevail!

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  16. Susan - thanks - I hope spring returns soon!

    I like the sound of your story! I love time machines - they're so much fun :)

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  17. We just got some snow yesterday too Jemi. :(
    My super mean antagonist has just be-friended my MC. She's having her over for a sleep-over where she's going to banish her to Earth, wiping away all traces of her existance. Of course, my MC doesn't see it coming. ;)

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  18. Lisa - I usually like snow. But not in April!!

    Now THAT is a setback! At a sleep-over. You are diabolical - I LOVE it!!! :)

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  19. Oh yes, I love throwing curve balls. And when I ask, now how can I raise the stakes here? my characters groan. :D

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  20. Nicole - they might groan, but they'll love you for it when they're famous :)

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  21. I hate snow in April. But if it's a warm wet snow, and the temps go up fast enough, your flowers should be okay. (the picture is pretty)

    Oh, I'm ruthless. The first draft they kind of throw stuff at themselves, by being human and making poor choices. But during rewrites I like to amp it up, take the torture up a few notches.

    I don't think I have anything involving a dead, mutilated rat though. That's skeevy!! What happens next?!

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  22. A character is sighing with relief that his twin engine plane can get him home safely with one dead engine, when the other begins to overheat.

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  23. Oh, my poor characters...just as things are looking up, bam! Always something.

    It got cold here, too. Blah. We had beautiful sunny, warm weather, and now...blah blah blah.

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  24. Lola - the temperatures are not looking good for the next few days, so I'm not sure they'll make it. We'll see.

    'Ramping up the torture' - only in a writers' forum would those words induce a smile. Well, I hope that's the only place... :)

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  25. Al - I like it! That's most definitely a tense situation :)

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  26. Carol - blah indeed!

    It's so much fun to keep adding to the stress levels, isn't it :)

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  27. I hope your daffodils rally! Mine recovered from a recent snow storm. Those flowers are tougher than they look. I do not enjoy making problems for my characters. This fact probably explains a lot about me and why I need extensive plot revisions.

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  28. Thanks Roxy - I hope they all rally too! It's not supposed to get warmer for a few more days.

    LOL :) I love that! You're a better person than I am, Roxy!

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  29. We had snow Monday and Tuesday and beautiful sunshine yesterday and today. Spring is really coming. I promise. Hope your flowers pull through.

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  30. Of course. Setbacks are necessary to amplify a conclusion. Puts more mmmppphhh!!! into it. I receive feedback from some women as to why my protagonist doesn't win a particular fight. What fun is it when the good guy never loses? Even James Bond gets his butt kicked sometimes.

    Stephen Tremp

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  31. Kathi - I really, really hope so!! I could use a little more sunshine :)

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  32. Stephen - so true - if it's good enough for James Bond, it's gotta be good enough for me :) Awesome!

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  33. yes - setback are way better in stories than in real life! Just when the character is getting things together

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  34. As a girl who lives in the South, I think I would die if I had to deal with 6 inches of snow. LOL.

    It's 60 degrees right now and I have a slight attitude.

    Sorry about the tulips though. Maybe they will surprise you and survive just like our characters, ha, ha.

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  35. Michelle - that's always the best time to throw something new in their direction, isn't it :)

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  36. Karen - lol :) 6 inches is nothing! But it is annoying in April. One early April we had about 18 inches of snow in one big blizzard. That was really annoying!

    I like that analogy - and I'll hang on to it! It'll be a few days before we'll be able to tell anything. Thanks :)

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  37. Oh, yes, I do! It's funny because when I'm reading a book and the character gets a curve ball I think, "Oh, no I could NEVER do something like that to my character!" But then I do it, too. Heehee. They get over it!

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  38. Brrr, chilly. The tulip is a yummy color but poor thing is suffering a definite setback.
    I write nonfiction so don't have characters to write about. Setbacks sure make characters interesting and more well rounded.

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  39. Bummer about the snow! At least you got a great picture out of it.

    I feel so bad when I throw setbacks at my characters. I can't even tell them they will be okay because some of them won't be. Poor imaginary characters. ;o)

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  40. Those poor characters. I sure do make them earn their keep. My new WIP starts out with one of my MCs going to Hell, so I guess you can imagine how bad it can get.

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  41. I like throwing new setbacks at my characters as soon as they've found their balance. Once they get a teensy taste of happiness, bham! Right back in the meat grinder. So cruel.

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  42. The stronger the character, the more I throw at them- they can take it, you see.

    And I could cry for that tulip.

    ~ Rayna

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  43. Laura - that's so true! We just go ahead and do it anyway. And they do forgive us. Don't they? :)

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  44. Terra - poor tulips indeed - it doesn't look any better this morning.

    With all the setbacks we throw at them, they'll be very well rounded! :)

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  45. Alyson - yes - if they were real, we'd be rather evil people - but we're not! :)

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  46. Lisa - yikes! Starting out in Hell doesn't bode too well for the poor character! Things get better... right??? :)

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  47. Lorel - lol :) so cruel and yet... so much fun!

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  48. Sorry about your bout of winter. I say unto you, "Yuck."

    About the character setbacks, I love putting a perfectly serviceable alternate love interest into the mix and seeing which one my character chooses. From there, so many roads and potential setbacks blossom. :)

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  49. Rayna - I feel the same way about the tulip!

    You're right - if the characters weren't so darn strong - they wouldn't have to deal with so much. :)

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  50. Julie - Yuck indeed! And it's still here :(

    I haven't done that ... yet... with the extra (expendable) love interest. That sounds like so much fun!

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  51. Damn, wish we had snow!

    I enjoy tossing small setbacks at my characters. The big ones not so much. The big setback in my book (which I can't reveal because it's a major plot point) was almost too much even for me. It was the most difficult scene I've evr written.

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  52. absolutely crucial to the plot! Who cares if one's protagonist sails through the conflict without needing to reapply their lipstick? Not me. I want setbacks, disappointments, struggle and strife. It's a hard-knock life.

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  53. We do torture our characters, don't we? I throw big and little setbacks at mine...

    Elizabeth
    Mystery Writing is Murder

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  54. It's 31 degrees here and we're expecting more snow. Spring doesn't officially arrive in Wyoming until May 15.

    As for setbacks, my 60-year-old protagonists are caught in a serious gully washer (flood) in Arizona while fleeing a killer. :)

    Jean
    http://murderousmusings.blogspot.com/

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  55. Oh no! Boo for snow - I can only imagine how you feel!

    I love throwing setback at my characters, perhaps too much! In the first ever 'novel' I wrote when I was around twelve, my main character had half an arm, her friend got run over by a drunk driver and died, and ultimately the main character died of cancer. Yes, I was a well adjusted child!

    I'm a bit better now but I do still love to torment them.

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  56. Poor tulips and dafs! I live in Southern California and tried to grow tulips several times, but the bulbs don't like a land without snow.
    As for my story setbacks, I'm in the process of ramping them up. My girl's having it too easy.

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  57. Sometimes if I'm not careful I can be too much of a softie for my own good when it comes to giving my characters setbacks. I can't bear to make them suffer any more than they already have. I have to make myself stand back from their lives for the sake of producing a ripping yarn.

    Snow! Poor you. We're sitting out in the garden here in the UK (Sorry, I know you didn't want to be told that!)

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  58. Talli, I laughed so hard at your comment! It reminded me so much of a chapter in Anne of Green Gables. Have you ever read that book? Anne and her friends start a story club and their stories are filled with illnesses and murders and one tragedy after another. Gruesome curve balls flying everywhere!

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  59. More snow never! I just went out and bought some bedding plants for my garden today. The sun was shining, birds were sing and everywhere looked beautiful and full of spring

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  60. Setbacks are really important to a WIP; they not only prolong the story, they show your audience how your characters react to different obstacles in their collective paths.

    Great post! Have a wonderful weekend.

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  61. I'm learning to throw setbacks at my characters - I have this terrible tendency to want their journeys to be as smooth as possible. But when I do set obstacles in their way, it's such fun to write about how they deal with them! So I'm getting better at it ...

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  62. We love a good setback. We've used everything from e-mails from dead people, frenemies and even ghosts as set backs for our characters. Is it weird that I sort of like it?

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  63. Hey Miss Jemi, I have a little something for you over on my blog. Thanks for all of your encouragement and such.

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  64. There's nothing like a sticky end per se. Though I find it increasingly difficult to write scenes where my main protagonist is hurt - or any other character for that matter. Odd.

    Hope the snow thaws soon!

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  65. Alex - yikes - that sounds like a major setback! I hope things turn out okay for your characters!

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  66. Jan - a hard knock life indeed - just like Annie! I guess things would be pretty darn dull if there weren't a few knocks along the way!

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  67. Elizabeth - I love how Myrtle handles her setbacks. She just gears down and races full speed ahead!

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  68. Jean - gully washer is a new term for me - I love it!

    At first I thought you meant 31 degrees Celsius - which is hot - but you're right there with us :)

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  69. Talli - that is hysterical!! Teen angst can be very cruel if the teen, or pre-teen, is a writer! :)

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  70. Rosalind - I hope you're enjoying some sunshine for me! :)

    It is hard - I have to remind myself to slow down in making my characters happy - the relationships always seem to want to work quickly - can't have that!!

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  71. Laura - you're so right! I'd forgotten that scene in Anne. Although it's one of my all-time favourite books, it's been years since I re-read it. Maybe it's time again :)

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  72. Tricia - it's so hard to imagine no tulips - they're one of my favourite flowers - so happy and cheerful!

    Have fun ramping up the stress! :)

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  73. Jarmara - I am so incredibly jealous right now!! We can't do bedding plants until the middle of June! Enjoy :)

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  74. B - we sure do get to know the characters by watching how they react to setbacks. I get to know the students in my class the same way :)

    Thanks - hope you have a great weekend as well!

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  75. Belle - it actually is tough to do at the beginning. I'm getting better too - to the point where I do emit evil giggles at times! Sad, but true :)

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  76. LiLa - it's not weird at all! Or else, if it's weird, then I think most of us are in the same boat! :) So much fun!!

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  77. Lisa - you're such a sweetie! Thanks so much - I'll pop on over :)

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  78. Wendy - thanks - me too :)

    Gotta admit I got a little teary when one of my main characters was beaten up pretty badly. Silly, but that's me!

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  79. Hi Jemi! Me again :P I wanted you to know I left you a little something on my blog today :))

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  80. Hi Nicole - Thanks!! You're such a sweetie! I'll pop on over :)

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  81. It's been in the upper 70's and
    80's here in NY, it's unheard of. Thankfully today it cooled back down. Not enough to snow.

    As for setbacks, I don't necessarily have any outright ones in my latest book. I do love to stretch out a possible romance. Just when you think hearts will melt, they harden and everything goes back to normal. Yeah, I can be a bit of a frustrating read. (Hugs)Indigo

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  82. A gun that shoots fun and deadly blue light? Cool. I'd choose the light.

    Helen
    Straight From Hel

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  83. Indigo - sounds like fun! Stretching out those romances is so much fun! :)

    We had a beautiful few weeks in March - back to normal now. Hopefully sunshine and warmth return soon!

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  84. Helen - I kind of like the blue light gun too - it's fun :) Well, unless you get shot by it... But still!

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  85. Did you know that there was a "Murder Scene" Blogfest going on? My entry is from my fantasy Titanic-style mystery, RITES OF PASSAGE. Come check it out :
    http://rolandyeomans.blogspot.com/

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  86. Roland - the murder blogfest is going to be a lot of fun to check out! I'll pop on over & check out your entry. Thanks for dropping by!

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  87. Hi Jemi,

    Great post, and I love the photo.

    Setbacks are a part of life--both real and fictional--no conflict, no story.

    You have a great blog; I will be back for a visit soon.

    Donna Volkenannt

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  88. Thanks Donna!

    There are some setbacks I'd rather not have in real life, but they're fun in books! :)

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