Frustration As Character Builder #Amwriting

FrustrationSo I got frustrated with my web host being off-line on-line off-line on-line off-line…. So I decided to switch web hosts. The new hosting company would migrate my site for me for free, mail and everything.

Didn’t work. Repeatedly. The old host’s files were so corrupt (did I do that?), the new host couldn’t retrieve them without major work, so they gave me free advice on how I could make various attempts to do it myself.

Eventually, it happened.

But here’s the thing: With me, everything’s about writing. So I thought, “I handled it this way, but I could have handled it this other way. Or this other way. Or this other way.”

Every story has a climactic conflict, right? And your character is going to have to handle that. One way to display character, to help your reader get to know your protagonist, to foreshadow coming conflicts and maybe show growth — one way to do ALL THAT AT ONCE is to put your character into frustrating situations or varying degrees of importance.

Does he screw up his face and curse if he drops his keys? What will he do when he drops his keys while the mad killer is after him? Does she need to stop and take a deep breath and count to ten when she dials the wrong number out of habit? What will she do when she hits the speed dial for the Pizza Place instead of the Emergency Room when her true love is bleeding out?

If he’s good under pressure, won’t it be interesting to see how high you have to dial the pressure before he ISN’T good under it? If she’s bad under pressure, won’t it be fun to see if she can rise to meet a desperate occasion with quick-thinking grace? Or if she’ll choke and make it worse?

A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: Put a character in a series of increasingly urgent situations and frustrate them. See what kinds of story arcs you can create from the progression.



I was born in Louisville, Kentucky, but now live in the woods in southern Indiana. Though I only write fiction, I love to read non-fiction. The more I learn about this world, the more fantastic I see it is.

You may also like...

One thought on “Frustration As Character Builder #Amwriting

  1. Jane

    March 21, 2016 at 8:54am

    I’ve always loved that Billy Joel song, Under Pressure.
    And the video is all sorts of melt-yr-mind cool.
    (No one watches videos on MTV anymore, right?)

    Let’s see, when Callie got under the ultimate pressure, she came up with, “You;re not going to make ME cluck like a chicken!!”

    I;m still kinda proud of that one.

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
    • Author

Leave a Reply, If You Ple-az

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.