Today, my son’s birthday, I’ve been reflecting all morning about the miracles that touch us through our lifetimes. My son was diagnosed with cancer four days after his fifth birthday. At the time, it felt like a tragedy and that our lives would never be normal again. Looking back at it now, with my son cured, it feels like a miracle and one I remember each year on this momentous day. It is a memory that reminds me how sad and frightened I was and also a memory that, once he was safe, brought me great joy and alleviation.
There are tragedies in our lives that we can’t understand. Some celebrations where we feel unworthy. And then some plain normal days without much emotion at all. Each day we live is the meat that fleshes the bones of ours souls and makes us who we are at this very moment in our lives. So each of our characters should have similar experiences if we want them to feel alive and not skeletal. That is how our readers will connect to them.
As we write about our fictional worlds, we can draw from our life events to pull emotions into our work. Be they sad, happy, scared, or angry, we can go there to those times that evoked such emotions. Much like actors do when trying to bring a character or scene to life. By giving our characters human reactions and uncomfortable situations they become more real to our readers and make memorable characters for future readers of our work.
So feel the pain and go there with your characters!