If you’re looking for a plot for a first novel, I recommend revenge.
- It works in every genre.
- It helps beginner writers focus on a story goal.
- It requires an antagonist - something most beginners ignore.
If a character wants revenge it usually means that he or she is motivated to act. This is good. Reactionary characters are not interesting to readers, and they usually can’t drive a plot. It also means that something interesting has happened and that more interesting things are likely to happen. Revenge also builds a framework for a story with a beginning, a middle, and an end.
Six Examples of Stories of Revenge:
- The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas (Crime)
- The Princess Bride by William Goldman (Fantasy)
- Hamlet by William Shakespeare (Play)
- Carrie by Stephen King (Horror)
- The Iliad by Homer (Literary Fiction)
- The First Wives Club by Olivia Goldsmith (Chick-Lit)
Because the hero’s quest for revenge often goes outside the limits of the law, you have to manipulate the feelings of the reader by letting the hero avenge an injustice. If you want your reader to empathise with a protagonist who seeks revenge, remember these three points:
- Your protagonist should be morally justified to seek revenge. He should have tried traditional, lawful channels before he resorts to vigilante tactics.
- Show how the antagonist has destroyed the protagonist’s life in emotional and physical ways.
- Your protagonist should remember that the punishment must fit the crime. Don’t let him go overboard and become an evil creature whose behaviour is worse than the antagonist’s.
Whether the protagonist succeeds or fails, the reader should feel better that he has at least tried to do something about the situation. This is cathartic for readers who often feel powerless in similar situations.
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© Amanda Patterson
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