This week I’ve been bitten hard by unknown unknowns. Mostly related to my employers moving to a different location.
I thought I’d countered the main problems I knew I was likely to have and could mitigate. Going from a room with a decent amount of natural light to a space where all the light was artificial, knowing there’d be a noise problem because we’re going from rooms of varying sizes to big open cube farm…
I missed two things that knocked me completely off balance. I’m apparently way the heck more sensitive to the chemicals used in carpet glue, paint, and so forth than I knew. And I really do not do well in the presence of sub-basso rumble from a less-than-ideally insulated mechanical room. I don’t know if losing one of these will make it possible for me to actually endure the place, but being in a location that sets off panic attacks isn’t exactly my idea of the ideal workplace.
My point being that when you do this to a character you can completely throw them into a state where they can’t do anything but react – and not react terribly well at that.
It doesn’t have to be as extreme as this. Think about it: when you can prepare for a situation you know is going to be stressful or challenging, you can usually deal with it reasonably well. It’s when you get blindsided by something that everything falls apart. Getting smacked with an unknown unknown doesn’t even have to be all that traumatic, just unexpected and hitting at the wrong time.
The main character discovers that he wasn’t an only child after all – and his twin is the enemy general. Or even just on the other side. The possibilities are endless, and allow any amount of character
tort… ahem… growth.
I just wish my bloody life would stop trying to provide me with similar opportunities for growth.