Taking risks

Let's talk about taking risks. Heck, we're writers, we know all about that, right? Putting your baby out there, for the world to either love or hate (usually, both) is a HUGE risk.

(to prove my point about risks, I just thought about posting a google image of what was supposed to be an ugly baby, but was really very cute, then clicked the link. Yep, it took me to a chat room where "horneygirl2011" asked me to meet up later tonight. with a very explicit photo of her, instead of the baby I expected.) (um, no, I'm not going. ;)

There are tons of risks that happen to us every day, and they should happen to your characters, too. Should they all make their way into your book? No, probably not, but you should know how they'd react if they did. They might act similarly to you - but not if their personality is in direct opposition to yours (which can happen, hey, most of us write fiction, after all).

Think about each following risk as your character would see it and add some more in the comments (I tried for some YA and some adult situations - therefore, I missed a ton):

- You wear your seatbelt *almost* every time. But this time, the guy you really like gets in, starts the car, and takes off before you get your buckle on - and he definitely doesn't have his buckled. What do you do?

- Even though your speedometer reads 61 - and the speed limit is 55 - everyone's passing you. You even caught a guy flipping you off as he passed. Do you increase? Decrease? To what?

- A 16-year-old friend of yours breaks her neck diving into a neighbor's backyard swimming pool. Do you go back to the same pool? If you do, do you dive?

- Everyone says cholesterol makes you fat and causes you to die early. So you quit eating fatty meats. But your dad made bacon special, just for you. Do you eat it and face a craving you're not sure you can quit?

- You're babysitting and your almost-boyfriend (or girlfriend) has his first night off in a week. Do you call to cancel the babysitting gig? Or do you let him/her come over? Or do you say no?

- The news features the death of a local doctor, who took a turn on a motorcycle and died of a head injury. You believe in riding the bike purely - nothing between you and the road. Do you change your mind?

- The party's tomorrow. Do you skip it even though everyone else will be there? Do you go, not drink, and drive your friends home? Do you only have a couple and drive your much-more-drunk friends home? Do you get really drunk and hope somebody else drives you home? Do you get really drunk and sleep wherever "there" is? Do you go, have tons of fun, wake up the next morning in your own bed, and wonder how the heck you got there and how you'll ever find your car?

- Heights are terrifying to you. Even climbing a step ladder makes you sweat where you had no idea you could sweat. Then you're asked to go to the top of a parking structure to watch the local 4th of July fireworks show. You go. People are letting their kids cling to the chain-link that encases it. You can't stop gasping in fear. Even worse, people are sitting on top of the concrete posts, certainly about to plunge to their death - you have to look away. You put your children very safely in the backseat of your car, which is far from the wall, where they protest vehemently until you let them sit on top by the luggage rack, you on one side and your husband on the other, in case they fall five feet to their death. No one else seems to notice the danger. Do you leave? (okay, so maybe this one happened to me a couple days ago. No one got hurt, but I'm still sweating. did I mention my fear of heights?)

Okay, there are way worse ones. Drinking, drugs, smoking, cutting, sex, etc. I know, truly, I do. But these are some every-day risks. How do your characters face them? I think it's something worth exploring!


  1. Good way to think of all this. It's funny, because I think many of my characters are more level headed than I am... wonder what that says...

  2. Definitely something worth exploring! I love the idea of introducing every day risks into our writing. It helps ground the story in reality and attach the reader to the character. Love it!

  3. Oooh, all good ones. I'm not afraid of heights, but there is NO WAY I'd let my kids stand/sit anywhere the edge of the top of the parking garage. Considering all the times in my young life I sat on top of a car, though, I think I'd be okay with that.

    I gave you a blog award! Come by to collect! :)

  4. These are terrific! Thank you for sharing!

  5. Great to think of these things--a good way to round out a character by contemplating their fears. :)

  6. Definitely something to consider when we're rounding out our characters.
    Ann Best, Memoir Author

  7. Well said.

    Our characters need to be as realistic and BELIEVABLE as possible. By creating scenes like these you can accomplish this.

  8. I'm all about risk taking, because you know, I'm the youngest child so really a total rule breaker. I love the idea of thinking of this in terms of our characters. I'm not sure I've done this for ALL of my characters. The MC, definitely, but the secondary characters need to take risks too.


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