Word by Word

Practical insights for writers from Jessica P Morrell

Quick Take: What’s the Worst Thing That Can Happen Next in my Novel?

Written By: Jessica Morrell - Nov• 09•21

Here’s an easy-to-use technique especially helpful for anyone writing a first draft. I’m looking at you NaNoWriMos.

Fiction is many things, with carefully placed underpinnings that form the structure and happenings–from bumping into an old friend to dodging-bullets-exploits–written in scenes. Scenes are where change happens.  Fiction is a log of sorts depicting changes occurring as the story moves along to the final shift or blowout, the climax.

Change creates threat. Threat creates conflict, tension and suspense, all necessary ingredients in storytelling.

New-to-fiction writers learn fast that negative changes outnumber positive ones in fiction.

As your story seesaws and morphs along, altered circumstances and threat create dire consequences. Fear of these consequences motivate your protagonist to act.

And because threats are ongoing in storytelling, they will meet reactions and resistance. Someone must confront, decide, fight back, avoid, flee from,  Whenever you write a new scene ask yourself what’s the worst thing that can happen next? Lightning strikes? A scary diagnosis? The protagonist’s ex moves back to town? Pulled over by cops? A death in the family? Fired from work? In turn, the scene’s outcome  propels the story ahead.

Keep writing, keep dreaming, keep plotting dire consequences for your beleaguered protagonist

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