Saturday, November 30, 2013

Guest Author: Matthias Wolf

For my first book, The Knife’s Edge, I had to see it. 

If I can’t feel, hear, taste or visualize it, then on how earth can I expect the reader to? And while this still holds true for the most part, something else has happened.  I’ve begun to crave writing pitfalls with no end in sight… even writing that phrase feels treacherous. 

Now when I write I’m blind to what’s going to happen and I love it.

By putting your character in a situation with no easy ending, I can promise your reader will not be able to predict ‘what happens next.’  Of course, there are often easy outs to this: a deus ex machina ending where a savior magically appears.  Or better yet, simply not having an out, i.e. killing that character (we all know that’s worked wonders for George R.R. Martin!)

Of course, it’s grand to have an escape rope.  I highly recommend planning at least roughly how to get yourself out of that sticky mess.  For instance, your main character heads into a deadly bar brawl, but you remember inserting earlier that our protagonist has a wicked throwing arm because he’s a baseball prodigy; a few whizzing pool balls later and he’s handled an otherwise fatal fight.  Or even more true-to-life analogy--one from The Ronin Saga, my series--is when the main character, Gray, has reached a literal dead end: a cliff.  Sadly, there's no way down aside from plummeting a thousand feet to his gory demise.  But when our trusted foil, Darius, yells at Gray to "just bloody jump" in a moment of frustration, the epiphany within our protagonist is acute and he realizes that's exactly what he has to do.  Fogged memories resurface when he had done something much like it before.  Something I, brilliantly or accidentally (you choose), had set up earlier.  And thus has the ability to overcome his fall of death.  (Sorry, no spoilers!) 

But if we’re to take a moral from this rant, then it’s this: when we put ourselves in difficult situations, like our hero, or like myself with writing, whether it’s asking out the girl or guy of our dreams, or standing up in front of a crowd, or simply doing what we know is right in our hearts, then we find out more about ourselves, we seek deeper.  The unknown is always terrifying.  Even now, I may still be afraid of putting myself upon that cliff or raising my lone hand in a thronged room, but I’ll probably still do it anyway.  For that beautiful cliché is often true: “whatever doesn’t kill me only makes me stronger.”  Or put another way, I’ve accomplished something I otherwise never would have, and have proved that my strength? Well, it was always there, I simply needed to show it to myself.

Sometimes, all it requires to accomplish something great is to accept the fear of not knowing exactly where you are going.  And instead, having faith and tenacity to know where you want to be and that you’re going to get there.

Matthew Wolf
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