Belly Flopping into Writing

by Lisa Sledge


The summer before my sophomore year of high school, I decided I wanted to develop a new talent. Hopelessly unathletic, I had a couple of friends on the swim team and decided it was as good a place as any to start. At least I wouldn’t have to throw a ball.

I was scared. I couldn’t swim from one end of the pool to the other. And I really didn’t like getting water up my nose.

One of my friends, Jennifer, saw how nervous I was and took me under her wing. We rode bikes to the city swimming pool every morning at 6:30, usually in the Seattle rain, and she worked with me to build endurance and gain confidence.

Can you imagine spending your summer as a teenager getting up that early for a friend? It’s not like I paid her. She was just that kind of person.


Twenty years later and here I am, pushing myself toward another crazy goal—publication. Once again there are good friends and kind people pushing me forward, giving me encouragement. It’s true that in spite of my best efforts, I could fail. But I feel blessed.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the people in our lives who support us. The ones who go along with our crazy ideas and bet on us when they know the risk of failure is high.

It could be a childhood friend , family member, or significant other. Maybe instead of a single individual, it’s a group friends. We all need someone.


Who sees through your main character’s flaws to their potential? What would happen to your MC if that person was taken away? What happens if they never experience that type of unconditional support and love? Would they look for a substitute? Is it possible to find one?

And who is your MC fiercely loyal to?


1 Comment

Filed under Character

One response to “Belly Flopping into Writing

  1. This idea is something that I’ve been thinking about with my MC, trying to figure out what would happen if that person who sees her through was taken away. If that other person is taken away, I’ve realized that she needs to learn to have hope in herself that she can do hard things and overcome them. I love these sort of questions that cause us to truly think about the innermost parts of our main characters.


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