Continuing on from my previous article, I’d like to say a word or two about the central character, especially in regards to the critical moment when the character finds her or himself trapped.
Clearly, the central character doesn’t or shouldn’t deserve the danger or the threat of danger. However, as I stated in the last article, characters are complex (or should be). Expanding upon this point… something in the character’s background or psychological makeup, perhaps, should play a role in the events that have led the character into the dangerous situation.
People aren’t perfect. People ignore signs of danger. So should characters in fiction. I once ignored danger when two guys attempted to mug me for my phone in a rural park in North London. I continued walking in the secluded and wooded surroundings, knowing that these two guys were following. I even heard one whisper to the other: we’ll go round the other way and get him. I could have turned and climbed down to an exit just yards away. This would have taken me to a main road. But I didn’t, and later I had to bolt as fast as I could. Which was fast, even though I’m not normally a quick runner! I had a lucky escape, but I never forgot the two thoughts that went through my mind just before the guys jumped out : it won’t happen and these woods are mine. I’m entitled to walk through them. In other words, I’m not moving, these two guys can.
Here is a further example of how a character might unwittingly bring about some of the events that lead to a critical point of danger. In this case, the character is female. She has a friend from school or college….turbulent, quite demanding, doesn’t forget a thing. One evening, our central character (married with a young family) receives an unexpected phone call. The friend has got into a lot of problems and needs a place to stay for a couple of nights. The central character thinks: oh no, don’t really want this. The friend says: I have absolutely nowhere to stay. I’m desperate. You’re the only friend I’ve got at present. Eventually, the character concedes, the friend moves in, ends up staying, playing mind games with the central character, and chaos follows, leading to a chilling conclusion.
A common plot.