Make your characters bleed. In my years as an author and a reader, I've been told over and over that making your characters bleed (metaphorically speaking) will keep your readers reading. It's always in the back of my mind when I write, but I never realized before the other night just how true it is. I was watching Being Human like I always do, when it hit me. In this episode, each one of the main characters suffered a huge loss or came to an unsavory realization about themselves, and it just about drove me crazy when it ended because I needed to know what happened next. How did each of them deal with the conflict? What effects would it have on them in the future?
I went out for a cigarette and thought back through the episodes, trying to figure out what it was about the show that compelled me to watch it every week. Of course there was the obvious: intriguing characters, a sexy vamp, a fumbling but charming 'wolf, great setting, believable minor plot lines... but beyond all that, I discovered that almost every episode included some kind of hardship for at least one of the characters. The good things were few and far between, but they were enough for me to believe that good things could happen. So, even though the last episode ended on a negative note, as the audience, I have hope that good things can happen.
This realization sent me back to my novella in progress and I ended up writing well into the wee morning hours with this old but new piece of advice: make your characters bleed.