Not the fun kind. I wish I could entertain at parties, but I fear I just don’t have the flare. Today, I’m concentrating on life and how everyone juggles. Moving, changing jobs, finding jobs, kids, families, births, deaths, babysitting, dogsitting, finishing school, going back to school, writing, reading, dentist, doctor, bills, mortgage, rent, work… *Takes a deep breath* Anyone else exhausted? There is so much life “stress” and sometimes people tell me everything they handle and my mouth hangs open.
It started my mind turning today. How does “stress” apply to fiction? Or, more importantly, how does life stress effect characters?
Has anyone ever heard the saying, “life happens”? Boy, does it. In fiction, a world happens. It’s different, though. The heroine doesn’t have to worry about rocks hitting her windshield on the freeway, or someone hitting my (I mean her…) car at the grocery store and driving away. Her dog never has an accident in the house. Unless one of these “moves the plot forward”… but when does it? It never moves anything important forward in life, except perhaps the annoyance scale. These are all life stresses that drastically affect our lives on a day-to-day basis, but most of these are seemingly absent in fiction. Especially fantasy.
Here’s the kicker. Maybe, it’s even the reason I read fantasy… Some days, wouldn’t you rather fight an evil wizard than stare at your cracked windshield one more time? Give me a damn sword, people. I’ll save the world. Anything would be better than one more bill from the doctor’s office. So when I get home from wielding my sword on a daily basis (a metaphorical sword… nowhere close to being as cool as a real one)… I want to escape into a world without the little things plaguing it.
Sure, someone’s life is in the balance. A war evolves: good versus evil. The fate of the world hangs in the balance. Couples cling together in their last moments as everything around them, life as they know it, collapses. Drama… tension! But where’s the stress? Where’s the broken nail as they hang off the edge of an impossible cliff?
It’s absent. I’m thankful for it. I often hear “nobody wants to read that”… When it comes to stress, I agree. What do you think? Are you glad aspects of “real life” are missing? Have you read a story where the heroine is stressed out? Like normal people stressed out… I tried to think of all the stories I’ve read and I couldn’t think of a heroine who suffered from one of these small annoyances and allowed it to drastically influence her life. But doesn’t it influence yours? Is this a trait that separates our characters from ourselves?