You live in pretty little townhouse at the end of a cul-de-sac. No, not that cul-de-sac, the one with the huge potholes because Mr. Thompson is too drunk and too stubborn to admit that construction is not his bailiwick. No, not the other one either, that always smells of chocolate cookies coming from the smith house on golden mornings and freshly risen bread on misty ones. No, you live on the cul-de-sac with the blackberry brambles as tall as a grown man and the chittering black squirrels that race each other through the street, fighting for pecans. By your house is a bridge. And under that bridge is a troll.
He is a not a nice troll. In fact, he is a nasty, vicious troll, with a long tangled beard that catches up street debris and coal black eyes. He demands a toll each day of rice cakes and beer. It is not necessary for him to have beer or rice cakes (trolls eat only tree roots and stone) but he is a troll and you are a person who crosses the bridge to get to work, and well, customs are what they are. So every day you take a tribute and go to the bridge, and everyday he regards his bounty with greedy approval. And everyday he shoves you into the blackberry bushes by the bridge before letting you cross.
Bye and bye, this goes on. Then one day, breathing through the pain as the thorns dig through your clothes and a mouth that tastes like dirt and copper, a new thought occurs to you. Screw this, you think, tomorrow I’m taking the bus.
From the age of roughly 18-25, I occupied myself by making questionable life choices. A situation would come up, I would make a poor decision, things would turn out badly, I would pretend to learn from my mistake, then do the exact same thing again. By and bye this went on, until one day, I got bored of always doing dumb things and decided to actually learn from my mistakes. So that’s what I did. I stopped letting the troll push me around and decided to get smart. I started to take the bus. People think wisdom is a gift, and it is. But it is a gift anyone can receive by just deciding to be smart and change the things that aren’t working for them.
I know what you are thinking: this is moderately interesting bit of your life story, but what does it have to do with writing? Simple. Our characters face various trolls: the wrong men, the wrong choice, too much faith, too little faith, alcohol, drugs, apathy. They face these trolls every day, they let themselves be defeated day after day. The question we have to ask is, why? Why won’t they save themselves, and what’s the stimulous (external or internal) that makes them decide to take the bus.