For the past few weeks, I’ve been taking a writing course on ‘Keeping Tension Alive’ in stories by the wonderful Susan Meier. There’s nothing like brushing up on writing skills, but this particular course attracted me because I wanted to learn how to inject more tension into my stories, between my characters and to keep the reader hooked.
And this doesn’t apply just to romance stories, if you’re curious.
One thing that stood out to me in the course was understanding that each main character should have an internal incorrect core belief, which leads to conflict. It is something characters will then learn to grow from throughout the story – part of a character’s arc. So if you’re wandering what this means, let’s go deeper.
Core belief – the way I understand it: A conclusion someone comes to based on the events that have happened in their lives – it’s shaped them into who they are, and as a result they hold dearly onto this belief. As far as they are concerned, this core belief is correct. People build these core beliefs to avoid pain and protect themselves. They often rely on it without realizing they’ve done so. It’s their go to mode when things get tough.
For example, in my book Cursecaster, the main character had a terrible upbringing, thrown from one foster home to another, and as a result her core belief is that trust leads to mistreatment and pain. (this is where history for each character comes into it, but that’s another lesson in class)
Now I throw my character, who is unable to trust anyone, into a situation where the only way she’ll survive is to rely on another person, and bang you have conflict. Or at least the start of it.
Incorrect Core Belief stems from a character’s past and is often based on an incorrect assumption.
This belief drives the decisions the character makes, it pushes them to do things a certain way as well as giving them a lot of internal grief. But over the course of the story, the character starts to see their faults, the trouble it gets them into, and with this they begin to change their beliefs. They grow from the character they were at the beginning of the story.
I’ve done this for both my main characters in Cursecaster, and with each having their own incorrect core beliefs, there’s much more tension and conflict to be had. Muahahaha. Poor characters… we sure do love to torture them.
On a side note, I made hubby a yummy lemon meringue slice this weekend with lemons from the garden. Yum.
Would love to know if you develop your characters’ incorrect core beliefs.