I see in today’s print market for fiction that story characters react more to frustration than any other emotion. Frustration is not getting what we want. And frustration is the carriage that drives all of us along the road of life. How we handle it determines what kind of person we are. Writers who deal with rejections from editors and publishers vent their frustration on the Internet. Google frustrated writers to see the multitude.
Overall, I am an average person who tries repeatedly to overcome failure until I either succeed or give up defeated. But as a fictional character, whether I win or lose, I must learn a lesson from the experience and grow more meaningful as a person. Doing less than that makes me an unchanged character in a story that many editors and publishers today would throw back into the slush pile. In other words, my typical life is not worth writing about. I didn’t wallow in self-pity during the entire second act of my story. I didn’t write off my problems as too much trouble and become dependent on others. I didn’t turn to alcohol or drugs and slide into depression. I didn’t blame and fight others and seek revenge with payback schemes, or go on shooting sprees. No, I stayed levelheaded and had little conflicting inner turmoil, and the opposition never dragged me down into the murky depths of life’s underbelly.
Fiction, therefore, must be exaggerated. A super-powerful adversary must drag me down and make me struggle harder for success. I must grow darkest and be emotionally powerful throughout every story event before I pull myself up into the light at the end of my problem by squashing that no-good in my life.
On paper, I deserve all the exaggerated frustration I can get so I can be mightily victorious in the end. Off paper, I thank God it’s not real.