The disaster is the payoff at the end of the scene.* This is what readers have been
waiting for—often, with a delicious sense of dread. This is the answer, at
least partially, to that all-important question, “What’s gonna happen?”
Options for Scene Disasters
1. Direct obstruction of the goal (e.g., the character wants info which the antagonist refuses to supply).
2. Indirect obstruction of the goal (e.g., the character is sidetracked from achieving the goal).
3. Partial obstruction of the goal (e.g., the character gets only part of what he needs).
4. Hollow victory (e.g., the character gets what he wants, only to find out it’s more destructive than helpful).
These disasters can manifest in any and every way your sadistic little imagination can dream up. Some of those ways might include:
2. Physical injury.
3. Emotional injury.
4. Discovery of complicating information.
5. Personal mistake.
6. Threat to personal safety.
7. Danger to someone else.
Make Your Disaster Disastrous
The “Yes, But . . .” Disaster
Questions to Ask About Your Scene Disasters
1. Does your disaster answer the scene question, as posed by the scene goal?
2. Is your disaster integral to the scene (e.g., is the disaster a direct culmination of the scene conflict)?
3. Is your disaster disastrous enough?
4. If your character partially or totally reaches his scene goal, is there a “yes, but...” disaster waiting to slow him down?
5. Will your disaster prompt a new goal from the character?
Scene Disasters in Action
Tell me your opinion: What is the disaster in your most recent scene?
Related Posts: Up the Stakes to Grab Readers
Is Your Story Mysterious Enough?
Is the Cliffhanger Overrated?
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Story by K.M. Weiland