The official blog of Jane Domagala

OBSERVATIONAL DECK – Is the world inherently lazy?

I have a fascination with escalators and why, when people step onto an escalator, they feel the need to stop walking. Granted, if you're old, disabled, or incapable of walking, escalators can ease your journey. However, for the rest of us able bodied chumps, why do we to stop? My answer, the world is inherently lazy. Before you take insult, you should know that this applies to the universe. It's known as the principle of minimum total potential energy, which comes from the second law of thermodynamics. Basically, the lowest state of potential energy for us humans on an escalator is the standing position (given that it's not safe to sit).

Not everyone, however, is happy to stand and let the escalator move for them. There are those who will keep walking. I find my characters can vary between walkers and standers. There are some who would rather sit at the pub and drink than save the world. Well who wouldn't? They don't want to do as they're told, or go where I need them to go. They are happy to let that escalator move for them, pretending that the world wasn't going to end. In short they're boring.

So why do some of my characters keep walking while others stopped? It was my mentor and friend, Louise Cusack, who answered this question for me. Louise pointed out to me that there are proactive characters and reactive characters. Proactive being the ones who walk and reactive the ones who stand. My boring characters were reactive, waiting for things to happen to nudge them along. I needed to make them proactive so they would do things for themselves.

So how can one keep their characters from being so damned lazy? Throw things at them, so they have to duck. Keep them locked up so they can't get to the pub and make them find their own way out. Put things/people in their way, so they have to swerve. Discriminate against them until they fight back. Unfairly judge them, until they stand up for themselves. Find a cause they can get riled up about, or an injustice they can't ignore. Kidnap their loved ones, or make their love interest appear unattainable, then drive them wild with desire. And so on. Anything to take them out of their comfort zone and forces them to act. Then, in the process of sorting out their lives, they may find themselves saving the world.

For great words of wisdom you can follow Louise's blog at:


That's so true Jane! Half my characters are at the pub with yours now - if you see them can you send them home with a kick in the pants?


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