Monday, March 28, 2011

Plot Revenge:

Today we are talking about the Master Plot: Revenge.

But before I get into the plot I have a small announcement. I will be doing the A  - Z Challenge all April. There aren’t enough plots to land on a Monday and start with the appropriate letter of the alphabet, so the plot post will stop until the first Monday of May. 

Now to Revenge:

Your character has been wronged and now they want revenge. The how and the why is the story. For this plot you either want a high stakes game where the character tries to grasp the situation and suffers; think Hamlet, or you want a character that easily falls into the plot and carries out the revenge because circumstances present themselves to help. Think vigilante, justified to the end.

The first type, similar to a Greek tragedy, uses the mind to battle against the character’s desire for revenge, effectively employing both to achieve the end result. The character suffers in an agony of what should I do? Or the easy modern, eye for an eye, and the character makes the bad guys pay. One is mental, the other action packed. Not that the first doesn’t have action, it does, but it also has a war within the character. Each type of revenge has its place.

Revenge is a three act story.
1.    Crime: Not all revenge stories have an actual crime, some have a perceived crime. It’s all in the characters head. When you do have a crime it needs to match the characters ultimate method of revenge. For example, if your characters family is murdered, then the protagonist may plot and carry out the murders of the villain(s). If your character is robbed, then they may hunt down the villain and steal from them. Often, the crime is observed by your hero and affects their friends and family. You must show the crime or your reader will not be invested in the story, cheering the protagonist on. That doesn’t mean the reader will always like the protagonist, this will depend on how far you push it. If your protagonist is Hamlet, the reader will have empathy for the character. If your character murders their own children to get back at a wrong done them, well, the reader will hate the character. So, push the envelope, you’re a writer, but understand the significance of what you write.
2.    Plan: The second stage involves the protagonist plot to get even, the plan. The plan may be detailed or it may be ‘grab a gun and hunt the villains down.’ It may involve a chase or it may be a trap. Many revenge plots have a third character who works to try to stop the protagonist. But, not all of the revenge plots do.
3.    Confrontation: The protagonist and antagonist meet. The hero exacts his revenge on the villain. The hero either wins the day or is caught in the villains trap. It usually spells death for the one you decide will lose. Most of the time, there is violence in this plot, but not always.

Revenge is not always about murder, rape or some other serious crime. Sometimes it’s about con men, think The Sting, starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford. This was a great movie and we delighted in the intricate plan concocted by the heroes who were con men themselves.

This plot casts you, the writer, in a moral position of determining right from wrong and justifying the actions of the hero. Be aware of the consequences. There are many more points made in the book, 20 Master Plots and how to build them, by Ronald B. Tobias. I hope you will invest a few coins in the book.

Some of you have commented that many of these plots appear in stories that are clearly other types of plots. This is true. It is called a ‘sub-plot.’ In my book, The Treasures of Carmelidrium, the over all plot is that of a quest. But woven into the pages you can find other plots, among them are, adventure, pursuit and rescue to name three. A good story, one that grips the reader through out will be built on the masterful use of multiple plots and strong character development.

To view previous plot post go here:

For our next plot we will look at: The Riddle. Come back on Monday, May 2, 2011.

Of course, I hope to see you all during the A – Z Challenge in April.

Thanks, Nancy


Dawn Embers said...

Ah, sweet revenge. Or not really sweet. I tend to go for the anti-revenge, to point out that revenge often hurts people not originally involved. In my epic fantasy series, the villain is the one seeking revenge.

Great blog post.

N. R. Williams said...

Good point, Dawn. Thanks for sharing.

Tracy said...

Oh, I'm going to have to go back and check out the rest of the plot posts. I'm re-working my current WIP now and it might be helpful to know, in advance, which plot tactic I'm working with. I know it's not revenge, but now I kind of want to do a revenge story! :o)

N. R. Williams said...

Glad I could help, Tracy. Good luck.

Joanne said...

Your plot post make a great reference for writing. Comparing the plot to a movie's gives a great visual, where we really "see" it in action.

Good luck with April's A-Z!

Austin James said...

Ahhh... Sweet Revenge

My favorite revenge story is Kill Bill... and I do believe it follows all three points...

Good luck on A-Z!

Colene Murphy said...

Grr! I love the revenge moment! Where the character can't let whatever go. They must fight! Love it.
Great stuff Nancy!

N. R. Williams said...

I agree, Joanne. The book reminded me of The Sting, so I can't claim credit this time, but in earlier post I came up with the movie.

Hi Austin, I haven't seen Kill Bill, I guess it is too violent for my taste. I'm more of a happily ever after kind of person.

That is true, Colene. The character's of the revenge plot have trouble with forgiveness.

Thank you all for dropping by.

Summer Ross said...

Revenge this is something I have not considered in my stories- HMM Thanks for the information- I can't wait to see what you come up with for A-Z

N. R. Williams said...

Thank you Summer.

Kay Theodoratus said...

Nice blog. Now that we have Hospice care arranged for a friend, I'm looking forward to having time to read blogs again. [Did have to pull out of the AZ bit because of time restraints.]

Abby Minard said...

Great info Nancy! I don't have revenge planned as any of my plots or subplots... but I guess there could be a little bit of an underlying, tiny plot for one of my secondary characters now that I think about it..

N. R. Williams said...

Sorry to hear that, Kay. I know how stressful dealing with a Hospice care situation can be.

Hi Abby, I may have a revenge plot, but I haven't decided. The heroine would certainly be justified.

Thank you both for dropping by.

The Golden Eagle said...

Interesting post!

I've never used revenge as the basis for a plot--but it does have its possibilities. I love reading stories that keep the tension high by setting characters against each other.

Debbie said...

Revenge is always intriguing! Even if we don't act on it in our lives, we still feel that pull from time to time.

Melissa Bradley said...

I love a good revenge tale and I'm glad I bought Tobias' book. You're right. It is worth every penny.

N. R. Williams said...

Hi Golden, I haven't used revenge yet, you never know though.

You're right, Debbie, there are times when it would be nice to take revenge, but I know my conscious won't let me.

Oh, you bought the book, Melissa. Very nice. I'm learning a lot.

Thanks everyone for coming by.

Anonymous said...

I like how you set up the strategy of, for writing, I mean. Great post!

Elliot Grace said...

...this post runs along the same lines with the novel I recently finished reading,(and loved,) "Horns," by Joe Hill. Yeah...King's kid. Great book...reeks of vengeance.


Anonymous said...

I like to have multiple confrontations. Perhaps the protagonist can ein the first one. Or not. Both scenarios can work. But this build tension and conflict for each additional meeting until the final act.

N. R. Williams said...

Thank you IB.

Hi Elliot, I didn't know S. King had a son who was writing. But I guess that makes sense since both parents are writers. Interesting.

Hi Stephen, you are so right. When the revenge plot is done right it makes for a great read.

Thank you all for dropping by.

Misha said...

My favorite revenge movie is V for Vendetta (it's so in the title.)

What I loved about it was the fact that the reasons for the revenge unfolds in the telling of the story, instead of putting me through all the horrors V went through.

Book 3 in the Doorways series will likely have a revenge subplot going, since something really bad is going to happen at the end of book two.

N. R. Williams said...

Hi Misha:
That is interesting. I wish you much success with your books.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I think a lot of regular posts are going on hold during the Challenge. I've still found a way to slip in the Fantastic Friday Writers and my upcoming movie posts though!

N. R. Williams said...

I will do a lot of the schedule that I have, just none of the plots were the right letter to fit them in. Thanks for stopping by, Alex.