Controversial Notion: Happy Lives Don’t Make Good Stories

Now maybe I’m wrong.  Maybe there is a book out there about a happy girl with a happy life who encounters only good things.  Personally, I’m yawning just thinking about it.  If you do know of such a book post the title and author in the comments and I will look into it.  (Picture books don’t count)

The reason why the format of a happy character enjoying her happy life is less than appealing is that, first and foremost, it’s just not realistic.  Now I’m not saying your book has to be realistic by any stretch of the imagination.  My latest Work in Progress involves ghosts.  But there is a certain set of rules that need to be followed.  One such rule might be the allowance that everyone poops.  Yes, even the fairy princess.  Or that cutting in line is deserving of a special place in hell.  They aren’t necessarily rules specific to this universe, but in literature, there are societal norms that are so deeply ingrained into us that we cannot break free of them.

One of those norms is the acceptance of the fact that shit happens.  Anything less than that will be rejected and the story will fail to grab hold of the reader.

Now maybe this whole post is gibberish and I’m rambling about nothing, but what I know to be true is that every good story has conflict.  Internal.  External.  Both.  It doesn’t matter.  Conflict is what prompts the protagonist to deviate from their normal routine to pursue a series of actions interesting enough that, when compiled, are worthy of reading about.

There is no overcoming of adversity without first having adversity.

Because of that, you can’t write a utopic story with the expectation that anyone is going to want to read it.  Good writers know that to draw in the reader, you have to make your characters suffer.  Even if it’s just a little bit.

Or a lot.

Dealer’s choice.

Bye for now!

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