Hi, friends! Suze here. Happy second day of spring. I hope you’re all having a fantabulous day! First some business: the winner of a copy of Joan Swan’s novel FEVER is Pamela Mason. Congratulations! Joan will be contacting you.
Anybody recognize the title of this post? I’ll give you a hint: it’s about Dodgeball. Specifically, the Vince Vaughn-Ben Stiller movie Dodgeball. Yup, it’s stupid, but it’s hilarious. If you need some real belly laughs, and don’t want to think too hard, that’s your movie.
There’s a Yoda-like character called Patches O’Houlihan, a wheelchair-bound curmudgeon who takes a ragtag bunch of guys from a neighborhood gym and teaches them how to win at professional dodgeball. One of his training methods is to hurl huge wrenches at the team. He tells them, you guessed it, “If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball.”
As my teenage son was watching this movie for about the forty-seventh time, and I could hear it in the background as I made dinner, something struck me. No, not a wrench to the back of my head! But it had almost the same impact.
I’ve been struggling to get words on the page with my latest manuscript. And I find this hard to understand, because I have a pretty good handle on the big turning points, I’ve got a whole town full of suspects, and I think I know whodunnit and why. I like my main character. I think that’s my problem.
I like her too much. So much that I don’t want to be mean to her. For example, in the scene I just “finished,” I had my heroine, her uncle, and a love interest/suspect out in the north woods. The love interest/suspect emerges from the woods and tells the heroine not to come any closer, because there’s a dead body among the trees. She turns and runs. Then, somebody has to go to notify emergency personnel, and somebody has to stay with the body. The sun is setting and they’re in the middle of the woods, and there are animals in the woods. The kind that would tear chunks out of a person lying on the ground. So what did I do? I sent my heroine back to the house to call for help.
Well no wonder this story isn’t working. I should have thrown a sack of wrenches at her. I should have had her discover the body. I should have had her sitting out in the woods, inadequately dressed, in the dark, with only a small campfire and a dead guy between her and the coyotes. What was I thinking?
Have you heard the expression Nice Women Rarely Make History? Well, nice stories aren’t very interesting either, nor do they turn out to be blockbusters.
So I’m going back to the beginning, and this time I’m bringing the whole toolbox. If I run out of wrenches, there’s always a hammer.
Do you have trouble making trouble for your characters? Or do you gleefully mess with their lives?