I’ll Get You My Pretty OR Why Temporary Triumphs and Reversals are Critical to Story

Wicked Witch

I’ll Get You My Pretty

I am addicted to USA Network’s drama “Suits.” I’ve been mesmerized by the show and can’t stop watching. Why? Because there’s a constant back and forth of temporary triumphs and reversals. It’s like a ping pong game and I can’t look away. I can’t wait to see what happens next. How will the character get out of this jam? Will they?

A temporary triumph is just that — it looks like a character has won something. For instance, in The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy and company score a temporary triumph when they reach Oz and ring the bell. They’ve finally made it to Oz – they’ve been journeying there for half the movie. Their success is short lived when they’re told to come back tomorrow – there’s the reversal.  Following that is another temporary triumph — they get in. But, then they’re told they need to return with the witches shoes – another reversal.

Most stories have one or two temporary triumphs and reversals, but the most successful have many more. These are very compelling to your reader – they are really pulling for the character, so much so that they can’t stop reading, which is exactly what you want. It also gives you as the author a chance to more deeply reveal the inner workings of the character – how resourceful are they? How honest? How devious?

After Dorothy and friends defeat the witch, marking the climax of the story, they return to the Wizard. He, an old carny man from Kansas, says he’ll take Dorothy home in his balloon – another temporary triumph. Drats, the balloon takes off without her – another reversal. Good witch Glenda shows up and tells Dorothy she had the power to get home all along. And she does. Finally. The turnabouts that happen even after the climax make the story compelling, and a classic.

In “Suits,” the lawyers are always trading insults, skirting the edge of the law, trying to convince a hostile witness to testify on their behalf, all this makes for very interesting storytelling. One minute they have a witness in custody – triumph. The next minute he escapes – reversal. They get the witness back – triumph. He’s shot and killed – reversal. And so on. Not every trial turns out the way we think it might and not all the wins are fulfilling, but this is also true in life.

Temporary triumphs and reversals are the stuff of true life. They give your characters depth and humanity – or not. The reader feels rewarded every time the character triumphs and roots them on whenever a reversal, particularly a stinging one from an arch rival, comes along.  So, pepper your stories with triumphs and reversals and keep your readers hooked!

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Corinne L. Casazza is a freelance writer based in Boston, Massachusetts. She is currently at work on her third novel. Corinne believes that through creativity and humor, we all find our own inner light.

Corinne’s novel, Walk Like an Egyptian is available at Amazon.com or from Llumina Press.

Check out Corinne’s Facebook Fan Page for tips for beginning writers.

Visit Corinne’s Web site at CasazzaWriting.com

 

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5 Comments on “I’ll Get You My Pretty OR Why Temporary Triumphs and Reversals are Critical to Story”

  1. Donna Grieco Says:

    Never thought about this in terms of the way writer’s hook their readers! Great explanation and fascinating topic. Thanks for a bit of an insight into an author’s world.

  2. Susan S. Says:

    Leave it to the good witch to share a universal truth, “you had the power all along.” I believe its true for each and everyone of us and this thought empowers.

    Love the blog!


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