Most writers I have spoken to know exactly what it feels like to be sleep deprived. To have gone on well past your limit and to be at that stage where thought is utterly impossible. Your limbs feel heavy, your vision is blurring, sounds are too loud but not clear, and simple questions suddenly take hours to think through to answer.
How long does it take you to get to this stage? I know I am not the kind of person who can go for days without sleep. Possibly in an extreme situation with adrenaline and the like I could be on my feet for a little longer but my thinking would probably still be very cloudy and incoherent.
Which brings us to characters in stories.
We’ve all read stories where the characters have been running, hiding, fighting, etc for days and nights and snatching a few moments rest when they can. These characters are occasionally described as looking tired and they mention a need for rest but their actions seldom match. They still make good decisions and they still manage to lift their weapons and aim and to run in a straight line.
Putting your character in a situation where they can’t rest gives you the perfect opportunity to build tension. It also gives you an excellent opportunity to make a really bad situation much worse as the character muddles their way through the events and makes mistakes caused by just being too exhausted to really think things through.
Are your characters getting enough sleep?
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