...and I'm not just talking about critiques.
One of my critique 'besties' was giving me advice about my writing the other day. She pointed out that the main character in my story was too protected. That he was living in a bubble. I realized immediately that she was right, and as I contemplated on the point, I began to see a pattern that extends back through all my work.
I take my protagonists and I wrap them in comforters, seal them in bubble wrap, and then tuck them carefully into a cushinoed box, before placing it on a high shelf. They watch their story unfurl, but from a safe distance.
You see I like them, and I don't want them to get hurt.
The problem is, as the author, it's our job to dangle them over steep foreboding precipices by the tips of their bleeding fingers. Our readers expect us to bring them as close to the edge of ruin and danger as we possibly can, without suspending belief.
Because then they can bring themselves back. Because then the reader cares about our protagonists as much as we do. Because then we have a story to tell.
What my friend pointed out was not new information. It's not a radical idea, and yet I had never applied the notion to my own writing.
Now I understand - sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind.
Anybody have a pin? I have some bubbles to go pop...