In Karl Iglesias’ book, Writing Emotional Impact, he suggests using paradoxes to create complex and fascinating characters. Paradoxes in characters are conflicting traits, contradictions within themselves. For example a character wants to find true love, yet is suspicious of men. A mother might plan to retire in Hawaii, the goal of her life, but her grandchildren live in New Jersey and she wants to watch them grow up. A leader of a charity might be skimming donated money to put his son through college. The reader might see the contradiction before the character is aware of it.
As Iglesias states, …”the more paradox, the more doubts and indecisions, the more fascinating the character will be.”
Have you added paradox in your novel?
In WRITING EMOTIONAL IMPACT, Karl Iglesias tells writers to tap into the reader’s curiosity, anticipation and uncertainty with surprises and a strong dilemma. To create a mysterious future, show surprises in the character’s reactions, behaviors, dialogue, or whatever is unpredictable but consistent with the attitudes and desires of the character. Another reason to make a character complex is that more surprises are possible yet, logical according to what the reader already knows about the personality.
A dilemma is considered strong when the character has to decide between “two excruciating choices”. Iglesias gives SOPHIE’S CHOICE as an example. She had to choose which of her children to save and which to kill. Writers often call an impossible dilemma a “Sophie’s choice”. He says the reader “waits at the edge of his seat for the character to make that difficult choice”.
Hada in HADA’S FOG has a dilemma, not as dramatic as Sophie’s, but one that affects her last years of life. She craves the peace and community at her home on the East Coast but due to chaotic family demands on the West Coast, she must decide between New Jersey or California. At seventy years old, she knows whatever she chooses will be where she will live out the rest of her life. Her soul’s desire or her loyalty to family, which will she choose?
Karl Iglesias in his book, WRITING EMOTIONAL IMPACT, describes how to create reader curiosity in the present. He suggests showing the character’s unusual behavior and reactions, such as overreacting or avoiding a subject. The aim is to have the reader wonder why and to wonder what he/she is hiding.
Another idea is to have other characters react mysteriously to the main character. Make the reader think they know something that the reader doesn’t. Both techniques help to keep those pages turning.
In HADA’S FOG, fifteen-year-old Lilli is a master at acting mysteriously around Hada and Lev. By her facial expressions, dialogue implications, and body language, it’s obvious she has secrets. The reader can guess it involves Samuel, but she doesn’t reveal any specifics.
The mysterious future will be next.