Thursday, January 10, 2013

Try-Fail Cycle

Unless you're reading flash fiction, the protagonist will probably fail to resolve the conflict on his first try.  There would simply not be enough story.  That's where the try-fail cycle comes in.

Did you ever have to fill out one of those plot-arc diagrams in school?  They never even told you that they were an arc and most of the time they were simply a hill that ended up a little taller at the right edge than the left.  Most plots don't work that way.  The plot is more of a series of hills getting progressively taller at their peak.  Each time the reader thinks the hero (or anti-hero) will succeed they are likely to fail, dropping the tension for a while before sharply raising it again.  Thus, he/she tries and fails in a cycle, hence the name.  Eventually, the conflict will be resolved and the final hill will slope downward a varying amount (depending upon how much of the book takes place after the resolution).

The try-fail cycle is just one of several major plot types, but it is one of the more commonly stated forms.  Use it wisely.

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