Whether you enjoy drama or not (and I don’t just for the sake of it), if you are going to write a really good story that is going to capture AND KEEP interest – yours included – you need to put at least one character through hell.
I have put some of my characters through intense issues – abuse, rape, guilt, murder…
It isn’t an easy thing to do, but it must be done. Why?
First up – there needs to be some drama in a story, something that causes a little tension in your reader, giving them the need to keep turning the page because OMG they have to know how s/he deals with this and if they are going to come out of it…
How much tension depends on the author and the reader. I make no bones about the fact I am a huge Harry Potter fan. I have read, re-read and listened to the books on audio so many times I could not count them. There is a tremendous amount of tension in those books. And yet I love them. On the other hand, I have dealt with stories with too much tension or too little that loses my interest.
Tension has to be measured. It needs to be there, but there needs to be gaps and relief every once in awhile. Otherwise you end up with a neurotic reader who is trembling in their chair and may not realize why they never pick the book up again.
The second reason that comes to mind is for that character’s growth. We need our characters to grow and by giving them hell, a tremendous amount of growth comes out of it.
I am working on the 2nd of a gay spanking romance series and am about to send one of my heroes into the deepest of all hells – losing faith in himself and who he is. It is difficult to do and I just want to wrap him up in my arms and not let it happen, but it has to. It had to happen ever since the setup for it began in the middle of the 1st book. He needs to grow up a little, but mostly he needs to stand on solid ground knowing who he is. With never being tried he cannot do that and his boyfriend has been through all sorts of hell (I sent him through hell before the books even began.). Above all, this gives his boyfriend the chance to save him…where he saved his boyfriend in the first book. It puts them on a very mature footing for the beginning of the next one in a way they have never been before. Which they need to be as in that book they will begin their DD relationship.
I don’t know if any author can tell you where the line can be drawn on too much or not enough tension. That is something you have to decide for yourself. But if you truly want a story that will be loved and read over and over, you need to have some tension, some drama, something for your readers to sink their teeth into while rooting for that character to make it through.
Now, send out happy thoughts to Logan as he embarks on the most dangerous journey he has ever had… oh yeah, and its a good thing the other characters don’t know what I am about to do – I think both Logan’s father and his boyfriend would strangle me. Or spank the hell out of me… No, I’d like that too much.