Noise Barrier

Kids have a way of breaking the sound barrier. If you’ve ever been around kids during a holiday, you know that they can squeal, holler and shout with the best of them. Teaching them to use their inside voice is like asking a gorilla to squawk. You’d have more luck with ear plugs.

But since it is an expected part of our society and I value my eardrums, I persist to get them to use inside voices in the house. It isn’t easy. They test the limits. But they come around eventually.

There are lots of noises in life that break the sound barrier. They affect us in little ways that change our course. For example, your child going to nationals in baseball. That would alter the path of your schedule. Or perhaps it is something small like, the grocery store ran out of fruit dip so you had to make your own…in a half hour or less.

Our lives never follow a straight line of direction. Sometimes we are tossed around a bit by the chaos, or noise of life as we know it.

Characters should be the same way. They should be tossed about by life. Your plot cannot just move in a straight line forward. It seems too easy. And doesn’t build the empathy you want for your character.

Putting your character in a situation where they have to do something we all relate to is a powerful tool. If their life is too perfect we won’t believe it. I’m not talking about the major devastations in the plot, although you need those. I’m talking about the little things. Someone stole your parking spot, you are late for work, you can’t find your keys, etc.

When your character hits the page be sure that you don’t put up a sound barrier for life’s noise. Let the outside chaos brush past them, swirl around them and frustrate them. Don’t make the path from point A to point B quite so simple. Deviate from the plan.

What are some examples of life noise that we could include in our novels?


About Michelle Lim

Author Michelle Lim is the Brainstorming/Huddle Coach with My Book Therapy Press and the Midwest Zone Director for American Christian Fiction Writers. Michelle’s romantic suspense is represented by Karen Solem of Spencillhill Associates and has gained contest recognition in the Frasier, the Genesis, and the Phoenix Rattler, winning the Genesis in 2015 for her genre. Michelle writes devotionals for The Christian Pulse Online Magazine and Putting On The New. Since her nonfiction book release, Idea Sparking: How To Brainstorm Conflict In Your Novel, through public speaking and online chats Michelle helps writers discover the revolutionary power of brainstorming to bring new life to their stories.

6 thoughts on “Noise Barrier

  1. Giora says:

    Interesting. Never thought aout it and I don’t think that I have life’s small distractions in my novel.

  2. Beth K. Vogt says:

    Love this question, Michelle.
    The littlest things can make fiction so true-to-life.
    How about … traffic jams — and all the irritation that comes with that?
    A visit to the dentist — oh, my heart rate goes up just writing that.
    Waiting in the express lane at the store and realizing the person in front of your is way of the item limit … wait, didn’t they use that one in You’ve Got Mail? Wait, I just watched that scene on YouTube: Kathleen ends up in a cash only line and only has a credit card.

  3. Sigal says:

    I really like this. I agree it’s the little noises that make a character come to life, that really show what he or she is like. Without the little frustrations of life the characters (and we) would be more like an idealized version of themselves. Thanks for the tip!

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