Friday, October 8, 2010

The Breaking Point

Apparently, I have a thing for writing a blog on Wednesday and then continuing with the same subject on Friday, because here I go again.

Back to the dentist thing. You know what I realized? 99% of the time, I detest going to the dentist. I mean, yeah, I get my teeth cleaned regularly, and if I need other work, I get it done because—well, that’s just what you do if you want to keep your teeth.

But last week, I was willing to do anything to get into a dentist’s chair, positively begging to have them stick that needle in my gums and get me good and numb. Because suddenly I needed that guy. Bad. And when you have a need like that, you find yourself looking at life from a different perspective. You do and think things you wouldn’t normally do and think.

Thus, I scratched off everything else on my schedule in order to devote my week to dental consultations and treatments, and then recovery. And you guys, I’m usually a pretty frugal person, so it pains me to admit that I didn’t care how much that specialist wanted to charge. (Later, I’d have probably been ticked if it were worse than it actually was, but not that particular day.) More like, “Do you take Visa?”

Such an aberration for me. And the difference is, of course, pain.

So. Now we know I’m a wimp (ahem, quit laughing). I’ve discovered my limit, the threshold at which I crack. Everyone has one, including and especially fictional characters. And we don’t always know where that threshold lies until we cross it.

But I did learn from the experience. I won’t share here because it would be a boring info dump, so just trust me. I learned stuff.

Where is your threshold? And once you reach that limit, what would you be willing to do to back up, cross over, or just stop the madness altogether? If you’re a writer, do you know your main character’s breaking point? And more importantly, even as you’re throwing rocks at them, what will you do to save them from demise? Will you? Can you? Should you?


Quinn said...

Um ... who said anything about saving my MC from demise?

Can you? Yes
Should you? Depends on the story

With my last book, I wasn't entirely sure of my characters' thresholds.

My MC can see ghosts. I intended for his friend to be supportive and think it was cool. Then a few chapters later, his friend's pulling away because it all starts to be too much for him -- he totally went against what I'd planned for the character; he practically wrote himself out of the book because he couldn't handle what was going on. I mean, I totally planned for him to be there for the MC throughout the whole book ... but his threshold proved to be different than what I imagined.

Carolyn V. said...

I have to take my daughter in for a root canal next week. =( I'm not too excited.

I think it's important to know your character's breaking point and how they would react to that breaking point. =)

Sara B. Larson said...

Great points. It is important to understand your own breaking points, as well as your characters. And also know what happens after that breaking point. How do they react or respond to it? And do you push them that far? Good things to think about.

lotusgirl said...

I'm really wondering now about the "should you" question.

Angie said...

I hope your teeth are feeling better! I don't know that I've given much thought to the breaking point of my characters, though I think I am trying to drive them to it.

L.T. Elliot said...

Glad you're feeling better! And there's nothing in the world like dental pain. =P My threshold for that is pretty low, too. ;)

Smart point about characters and breaking points. I tend to like to push mine a little too close to the edge, I think.