Bad Choices Make Good Stories

     A couple days ago when I was out and about, I saw a shirt that said: bad choices make good stories. At its heart this is completely true for books. Conflict drives plots along and forces characters to make choices, often bad choices that leave them scrambling to pick up the pieces. 

    Think about a book you picked up lately. Did the characters go ahead with a plan that ended up with them in captivity, or leave someone behind who wound up being killed? Did they give into curiosity and find themselves in a bubbling pot of trouble? 



    Sure, these decisions might not have appeared bad at first, but their consequences were.

    Bad choices are horrible in real life, but one gave me an entertaining, if painful, story. So for proof of the truth of the statement, here it is:

    While at school during a P.E. class, my grade was playing dodgeball on the outside covered basketball court. Ancients trees perched on either side of the court, and grew heavy, round brown fruits from their leafy limbs. I got hit after dodging several balls, and jogged to the other team's jail. The jails were behind the court lines at either end. Here a couple tree branches snuck underneath the metal roof.

     I chatted with a few people while we waited for our team-mates to free us. Then I walked a few feet to talk to someone else about strategy (because that's the kind of person I am: talking about how to win while in jail. Dodgeball is a serious kind of game). 

     Over us branches spread green fingers.



     Something struck me on the head. 

     My first thought was that it was a dodgeball, until the blinding pain made the world blur. Clutching my head, I looked around to see what in the world could have hit me that hard.

     A round brown fruit lay on the ground.

     I almost lost consciousness because of a fruit. A fruit. It weighed at least five kilos, no joking. It certainly wasn't funny at the time, but it is now. If I hadn't had an urge to talk strategy, I wouldn't have to put ice on my head for the rest of P.E. class. (And be in extreme pain) But hey, I've got a good story, right?


Ice cubes, my friend after fruit attacks
     Back to the point.

     Characters making bad choices is what gives us conflict. Conflict = stories. It's only natural that people will make bad choices and end up in sticky situations they'll have to fight out of (or go get an ice pack). But what about good choices?

     I want characters to choose sacrifice over selfishness at the end of the book. I want them to choose who to love wisely. There should be a balance of both kinds of choices, so characters can learn and grow.

     Bad choices make good stories, but with good choices they make great ones.


Do you think stories should be a balance of both choices, or just one? Ever been hit in the head by a really heavy fruit? (I hope not. It was traumatic) Let me know in the comments, and remember you are all amazing! <3
    

Comments

  1. Thank you :D now I have idea for my writing :D

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    1. You're very welcome! If the idea involves being hit on the head by fruit, I can tell you how painful it was: very painful. Like I actually cried. But if it's about bad or good choices, I wish you the best of luck writing! Thanks for commenting, Hana! XD

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  2. I do think bad choices are necessary in stories sometimes, but they just still have to be believable. I have to understand why the character made that choice and feel like I might've even done the same or like it completely fits with their character and is a choice that *someone* might conceivably make.

    What's really great though is when you find a book in which the characters make good choices, but everything still goes wrong anyway. Those types of books are rare lol, but I think sometimes they can make you feel for the character more.

    And no, I can't say I've been hit in the head by any hard fruit lol. But I did once accidentally stand in a red ant hill in P.E. as a kid. But someone else also stood in the red ant hill, so we at least had each other to commiserate with while trying to get ants off us and being bitten all over.

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    1. Oh yes, the choices must be believable! Otherwise it can make me question whether the character was staying true to themselves or if it was put in just to push ahead the plot. And having good choices going wrong is also great.

      Ouch, red ants sound painful. P.E. class seems like a very dangerous time for the both of us. :D Thanks for commenting, Kristen!

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  3. I think it is nice when stories point out both the good and bad choices. It makes them more realistic and true to life

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    1. Definitely! Its great to have a balance of both choices, as people in real life make them both. Thanks for dropping by and commenting, Resh! XD

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  4. Ouch! Getting hit on the head by falling fruit sounds pretty painful!
    I do think bad choices make good stories. In fact, I really like it when a character's bad choices causes problems that they have to work through in the story, and by the end of the story they have grown so much as a person that they are capable of making good choices instead. I just like the whole character development possibilities you get with bad choices, because you have to question why the character made the choice that they did, and how that would make them do things differently in the future.
    Great post! This is definitely an interesting topic :)

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    1. Yeah it was pretty painful. XD
      Thank you! I love it too when characters have to face the consequences of their bad choices and then develop. Starting with bad choices and ending with good ones makes me feel all happy and warm inside that they've learned. Thanks so much for commenting, Laura! :D

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