Courage and Doubt

Here at Writers Fusion headquarters we will postulate up front that all fiction writing is, in itself, a courageous act, and what some people call doubt is actually the process of thinking.
 
Courage in writing is a matter of establishing a condition of realism, characters’ normal responses to circumstances and their effects.  For example, no one would expect a child’s death to bring about relief in a parent.  But what if the child were suffering a debilitating disease; or what if the child were lying in a hospital bed in a vegetative state for months after an accident.  Sorrow and pity would be expected from your characters as they endure a sense of helplessness and remorse that they, the parents, suffer through the reality that they can do nothing to alleviate the child’s condition.  A reader would have no problem identifying with the situation. 
 
But what if the parents' significant reaction to their child’s death was more in the line of relief – that their child’s ordeal is over and they now have time to enjoy their own lives free of the encumbrance of responsibility to empathize with the plight of their child.  This kind of response would cast a new light on your character’s internal condition and would force the reader to reevaluate their own psychic bond with that character.  This would change the dynamic of your story. 
 
But what if this revelation is so repugnant to your own sense of morals and responsible behavior you couldn’t possibly entertain it in your fiction?  This is a moment that calls for personal courage if you want to be true to the actual dynamics of human conduct.  Selfishness is neither unusual nor immoral.  But it is distasteful and a cause of regret.  This is something your readers will pick up on and will establish your credibility as an author who can be relied on to tell things as they are.   
 
Resolving doubt in favor of honesty establishes trust in your readers.  Readers’ antennae always unconsciously search for truth because only the truth will resonate with their desire for cathartic resolution. Your characters’ strengths and flaws will allow your readers to identify with their struggles and triumphs and thus their own. If these expectations are frustrated, you will lose them forever.
 
  

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