In my latest project there is a single line that completely breaks the protagonist.
This is the whole conversation
“But, history exists! There are things from the past that survived, like the book I found!”
“That old book and that old newspaper? Might be real, might not be”
“What are you saying? These are objetive proof that the past existed!”
“Truth is, Javiera… the game was rigged from the start”
After this the MC loses all hope
What do you think? Do you have any similar lines in your story?
I did something similar where my protagonist was excited to have achieved something of worth toward their dreams, only to be told by the person they respected most, “Stop wasting everyone’s time.”
The protagonist took these words as their efforts stupid and wasting other people’s time. They gave up on their dreams. Also, giving up on their innocence and humanity. Those few words crushed their spirit to make them a ruthless gangster who didn’t care. They lived an apathetic life.
Well, I was testing out a negative character arc at the time.
I like breaking down characters. In several places, I use the “heroine’s own words” to break her down.
Rachael unconsciously calls her mate a “fucking primitive” in her head (telepathic link), and it sets off a fight that gets him to pull over and damn near bend the steering wheel.
The problem is that a lot of her early memories are repressed, and she lived without modern conveniences until the age of about 10, and the way she insulted her mate in her head was the same way she had been insulted by her own mother as a too-young-child. So, she’s got all sorts of layers to unpack, the one that sticks out in her mind is not understanding indoor plumbing when most kids would be old enough to take care of themselves, in that regards.