As writers, we hope–hope that our writing will get noticed, hope that we’ll live long enough to see our work published, and hope that our stories will matter in the lives of our readers.
But there’s another kind of hope too. It’s HOPE in our characters. Some characters have to lean on hope to get them through their journeys. Sometimes HOPE is the only prayer our protagonists have. Sometimes our villains give up on hope and die in the process of looking for it.
It’s important to give readers a glimpse of our characters’ goals, their glimpse of hope, something they long for.
At My Book Therapy, I learned about this kind of hope. We can use in our writing. Susie May Warren calls it A Glimpse of Hope. This is a tool I use in my fiction thanks to Susie. I look for it in movies too. It’s a subtle thing so sometimes it’s tricky to find, but if you learn what it is you can identify it and write it in your wips.
Typically, this glimpse of hope appears in the First Act of our novels or movies.
- Pick one of these ways to show a glimpse of hope in your novels:
- 1. Have your hero fail at doing something. Then have him—or someone else—comment that if only he had done or believed a certain way he might have accomplished his task. To which the hero says, “Well, that’ll never happen.”
- 2. Have your hero, or just your reader, see something that the hero longs for—a happy family, a good job, a hero’s welcome. Something that we can measure his later success by. Susie calls it the glimpse of the Happily Ever After.
- 3. Have your hero hear of a story/legend/action that he wishes he could do.
EXAMPLE: In my current suspense novel, my protagonist’s ex-wife suffers from depression and addictions. When Brett, the protagonist, sees a competent young mother and observes how she cares for her child and her husband he wishes he had a woman in his life who had it all together. It’s something he’s never had, but longs for.
EXAMPLE #2: In my supernatural YA novel, Willow sees a young teen girl getting off the plane and running into the arms of her parents. They embrace with tears of joy. The parents hold their daughter, their pride evident in the way they beam at her and their reunion. Willow observes this and longs for this same reunion with her parents when they return from Africa. It’s her glimpse of hope. She doubts it’ll happen because she has a secret that she thinks will change how her parents feel toward her. But I’m hoping my readers will want this for her.
EXAMPLE #3: Even in the early part of Cinderella we see a bit of hope when the Prince stops at her house for a drink of water from the well and meets Cinderella.
By showing your readers that it’s possible for your character, the one they’re rooting for, to find their happily-ever-after, they’ll go along for the ride, hopeful your character achieves his goal.
Watch for this moment–this glimpse of a happily-ever-after in the next movie you watch.
Can you think of one to share?