I was discussing another writer’s story idea with her, and I told her it was time to plot out the “Ds” in the story. “Think bad, badder, baddest,” I suggested. “No happy, sunny days.”
Ah, the fun of writing a novel.
You, the writer, get to wreak havoc on your characters – all the while ignoring any and all havoc in your life. At least for a little while. You must return to reality at some point.
Wreaking havoc – that’s just another term for “the Ds”: the events that distance your hero or heroine from their goals.
What: The Ds
Think Distancing, Denial, Disappointments and Devastation. Ds distance a character from what they want. Ds deny your character something – a relationship, maybe – and create a Y in the road, forcing her to make a choice. Most often when we think of the Ds, we think of Disappointments that get worse and worse with each turn of the page until there’s a devastating event that brings your character to their knees.
You weave Ds into your story because your character doesn’t live on Easy Street. If she does, then pack her stuff up and move her out. In other words, a book with no conflict is boring. It’s also unrealistic. Do you know anyone with no conflict in their life? Me, either.
Think of the Ds as literary roadblocks. They stop your main character from going forward and getting where she wants to be. By creating a Y in the road, the Ds force your character to ask, “What do I do now? Quit? Try again? Try something else?”
When you’re stopped by a real roadblock, you can either:
- Quit. If your character does this, you write “The End” to your book. You don’t want to do this unless you are truly at the end of your book. Trust me, if you’re plotting the Ds, you’re not ready to write “The End.”
- Try again. Have you ever watched a movie when someone blasts right through a roadblock? It’s dangerous and all kinds of crazy things happen — and you can’t tear your eyes away from the screen, can you?
- Change direction. Consider how the Y in the road leads to a detour. If your character can’t do the thing she planned on doing, what can she do?
And then the question is: What does that choice, that action lead to? There’s always another D, right? Well, there is … until you get to the Black Moment. But that’s another blog post.
What Ds have plotted for your main characters?
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