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?