When I was a child and trying to make a decision and I asked my parents what they thought, they almost always responded, “What’s the worst that could happen?”
Typically, the answer was that someone might say “No.” As I got older, I realized that, sometimes, “Yes” could be the worst that could happen. Really, the worst is much greater than that. The worst is the unknown results of the simple “yes” or “no.”
As writers, we have the ability to use that and play God – in a very minimal way
As you think about your story, what’s the worst thing that could happen to your character? What is the single worst decision your character could make? What happens if they make it? .
What if your characters gets something he/she really wants. How can that become bad?
- Could the man she loves be a serial killer? (Sorry, been watching a lot of Dexter)
- Could her best friend have an abusive parent?
- Could he be marrying the wrong person?
Come up with a few ideas. Think about the very worst thing that could happen. For every situation. It doesn’t always have to happen. But when it does, it will heighten your plot. It can make a bad situation worse and it can make for a good twist when it seems like things are finally going your character’s way.
It can also give you a glimpse into who your character is. What kind of decisions do they make? How good are they at picking up on hints? Do they pay attention to what’s going on around them? And, most importantly, how do they respond when they’re faced by a situation that seems impossible?