You are automatically drawn to articles and news reports that feature words or phrases that are familiar to you. That’s probably why I was drawn to this sad story in the New York Times about a college professor who shot and killed three people.
As always, I try to take a tragic event and use it for the good of my writing.
I’m working on a wonderful novel with a great writer that concerns what lengths people will go to to get ahead in academia, and found this piece instructive as to how to help the writer raise the stakes in her story.
As an exercise:
How would your own character react in a similar situation? Would they resort to violence if they found themselves so desperate to get ahead, or would they pursue another route? Would their violent behavior be considered a complete surprise or were their red flags in their past?
By taking a moment to consider how your characters will react under intense pressure, or in extreme situations, you can gauge how they will respond in their regular lives.