When writing suspense, authors work hard to pace the action so as to build the tension and keep readers turning pages as fast as they can. Whether it’s a murder mystery with a ticking clock or imminent peril from an unknown source or dangerous monsters lurking nearby, the point is the same. Let the reader feel the character’s anxiety and fear by writing this character into a corner where things just couldn’t possibly get any darker. And then let it!
Make chaos erupt with every scene, turn things upside down and inside out, show the unexpected and dreaded. Your character needs to be a victim to some extent so the reader can empathize with her and thus identify with her dilemma, so she will care whether she lives or dies. Explore the potential in this suspense and build it yet again to another climax as soon as is feasible and hit your character with still another unbelievable yet real crisis. And keep it up until you leave the reader breathless and completely hooked on your story, not daring for a moment to put the book down. Grow the character through overcoming these obstacles and push her relentlessly when she wants to give up. These are the makings of “real” life, even if it’s in a book!
We’ve all read novels and short stories about victims but sometimes they are not sympathetic. If they willingly remain in the situation and continue to be abused or threatened or imposed upon with no hope in sight, readers will quickly lose desire to continue the story. So it is a fine line between creating this victim mentality or writing about one who is victorious over her circumstances and challenges. Be careful about allowing your readers to drown in the victim mode; always pull the character out of the fire at just the right moment to sustain interest and likeability, while drawing a believable character who won’t turn off the readers.
And you know what, our lives are the same way. When God granted us breath & brought us into this evil world, He also surrounded us with much beauty to prevent our becoming overwhelmed. The Scriptures tell us to focus on the good things in life not on the negative ones. We may feel doomed to live IN all this mud, but we can rise by His power and learn to live ABOVE it. Are you creating a lifestyle for yourself where you are constantly a victim, where someone else is always to blame for all the bad things that envelop you? Or are you allowing God’s Spirit to help you soar on eagle’s wings above the mess of our world and catch hold of the victory He offers?
Whether you are forming a character for your latest book or fine-tuning the attitudes and motives of the real world around you every day, let His victorious strength boldly take you to the skies instead of wallowing in the muck. Which will be your dwelling place in the coming week—that of victim or victor?