Word by Word

Practical insights for writers from Jessica P Morrell

Fiction = punishment

Written By: Jessica Morrell - Oct• 11•21

Fictional plots punish the protagonist. Again and again. Weaken him or her. Again and again. Force the protagonist into situations, alliances, and conflicts he or she would rather avoid.

Plots are designed to whisper or shout ‘no’ or ‘get outta here,’ or ‘you’re not enough’ to the protagonist.

These punishments are often tests. The outcome should always cause doubt in readers, not to mention your cast members.

These punishments often dredge up ghosts from years past–the kind best left undisturbed, buried in the dusty caverns of memory.

Often the most compelling protagonists are already scarred when the story begins.

Often the most compelling protagonists are fixer-uppers.

Punishing forces, paralyzing decisions, moral dilemmas, and devious opponents are crucially linked to structure. All the snarls, twist, secrets and lies are also linked to structure.  Without solid underpinnings, a plot can easily falter.

Keep writing, keep dreaming, have heart

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