July 23rd, 2015

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Writing Excuses 10.29: Why Should My Characters Fail Spectacularly?

Writing Excuses 10.29: Why Should My Characters Fail Spectacularly?

From http://www.writingexcuses.com/2015/07/19/writing-excuses-10-29-why-should-my-characters-fail-spectacularly/

Key points: Middles are usually about failures. Struggling and failing, then succeeding is satisfying. Spectacular failures build sympathy. Try-fail cycles, but consider yes-but or no-and. Yes, success, BUT now things are more complicated or no, failure, AND there's this other little twist... Things get worse! Start with your ending and mirror that into earlier events. Try-fail cycles should prepare you for the ending, and are related to the goals from the beginning. Be careful about checklist mentality, always doing three try-fail cycles. Stories should feel organic, so use the tools to assess and fix problems, not as straightjackets for your stories. Make your try-fail cycles do more than one thing. Beware plot bloat, with conflicts adding complications -- make sure your conflicts are related to the central story you are telling.
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[Brandon] We are out of time. We will talk more on this topic in upcoming podcasts, where we dig into pacing. But for right now, Mary has homework for you.
[Mary] Yes. So we are going to play with the yes-but, no-and try-fail cycle. What I want you to do is to look at the next conflict your character is facing and just think of the smartest thing they can do. Then start a yes-but, no-and cycle. Just for purposes of exercise, try it as a three cycle. So they're going to fail twice before they succeed. You can decide if they... If you have two yes-buts or a yes-but and a no-and. But each time they try, that thing needs to get worse.
[Brandon] Excellent. This has been Writing Excuses. You're out of excuses. Now go write.
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