Why you should become an evil author: Ana’s challenge


I can’t do that.

It won’t work!

Have you ever said those words to yourself as you worked on your latest story? Heck, have you said that to yourself as you trod through life? 🙂

A few months ago when Mira’s Miracle first came out, Maren Smith and I chatted about our collaboration. In part two of our conversation, we discussed the far-reaching effects of a miscommunication:

I thought I had to use the existing male teacher in the schoolroom roleplay scene, and Maren didn’t think to tell me I could write a female teacher for the story. (In case you’re new to the world of Mira, I’ll give you a hint. Mira’s had a negative experience with a man, and she doesn’t respond well to male authority.)

Anastasia Vitsky: One particularly fruitful development resulted when I asked you about the schoolroom. When you told me Bill Emerson would teach the class, a part of me rebelled. A male teacher? For my Mira? No way! However, because this was your world rather than mine, I had to respect your established structure. Had it been my story, it would have been Mrs. Emerson in the classroom.

Maren Smith: You know, this was my fault. I failed to explain that there were three classrooms. Mr. Emerson only taught one. There was still the detention hall and a third unnamed class (probably gym) that you could have put a female teacher into and made your own. I didn’t even think of that until just now.

Anastasia Vitsky: But look what happened! If I had had my way, Mira would have gotten a female teacher and perhaps some nice, calm, boring interactions. Instead, I placed Mira in the classroom with your male teacher…and all kinds of dramatic tension ensued. Because Mira had already faced a dangerous situation with a male figure in Desire in Any Language, her meeting with Bill Emerson became explosive.

Maren Smith: Boy, was it ever. It was Brilliant!!! You didn’t just flesh out your character, you fleshed out mine! I loved that interaction!

Writing the scene where Mira encounters Bill Emerson, the teacher, turned out to be the pivotal point for the entire book. That miscommunication turned out to propel the story forward, highlight underlying themes, and bring the story to a cohesive whole.

All because Mira didn’t get what she wanted.

If you have a story that’s floundering or feels lackluster, try this: Put your main character in a situation she (or he) is sure to hate. Force her to meet someone she has been avoiding. Yank away her favorite person, possession, or pastime.

Remember when you created towns with your toys, only to destroy them with great glee?

Go ahead.

Give it a try with your story.

Get really, really evil.

You can thank me later (but please don’t send your characters my way).



6 thoughts on “Why you should become an evil author: Ana’s challenge

  1. Ami says:

    There is nothing more explosive than being outside of our comfort zones. It not only causes us to become more analytical of our intentions/actions/words but often leads us to an unexpected or anticipated outcome.Snag is that naughty girls end up getting their butts busted.



  2. annapurna1951 says:

    “It won’t work” is the story of my life.

    Many times, I encounter those words, and when I do, it means I should go even bigger and bolder in my writing, no matter how outlandish the outcome.

    In my story, my heroine must decide between walking away from those she has known all her life, and in so doing, she’ll seal their doom. Alternatively, she can put herself in harm’s way, and almost certain annihilation, for a slim chance at saving her closest friends, one of whom raised her.

    By nature, my heroine’s inclination is to calculate the odds and choose the most expedient path. She’s done it all her life; she knows nothing else. Not in this case, however, for her heart intervenes and clouds her thinking, perhaps to her detriment.

    The life box in which my heroine finds herself is this: repudiate the unbearable lightness of being, the notion we live only once, knowing that nothing ever reoccurs, and absolve, finally, the ambivalence between life and death. If she refuses the challenge, her life will have no meaning.

    She solves the problem by forcing an outcome: she chooses the eternity of non-existence. In her mind, what difference does a short life make anyway? Einmal ist keinmal: one occurrence is not significant. If she has only one life to live in a universe whose existence spans twenty-eight billion years, she might as well not have lived at all, so says her logic. Therefore, as a chess player, she chooses the boldest move of the game: the queen sacrifice, her own existence for what she perceives as the greater good, despite the fact she is vastly superior and more precious than the ones she intends to save.


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