Let's start with the normal. It shouldn't be too much of a stretch in today's economy to imagine the couple who has fallen on hard times. After years in a good job one or both lose their job, then their home and are thrust on the street to stand in line at a homeless shelter or to live in unfavorable conditions. In this dire situation one or both begin to live outside what is acceptable behavior in society.
This has actually happened to me. Though my husband is gainfully employed he makes half his previous income and we have lost our home. As a result, I live in a two bedroom apartment instead of a home paid for by years of mortgage payments. So far, I haven't reached the level of wretched excess, but I can imagine it with depth and detail because of my own experience.
Of course, this may be any number of situations. Our examples for this post is Shakespeare's plays, Othello, King Lear, Hamlet and Macbeth. In each play the protagonist is driven to break the rules of society. It's been years since I read King Lear and Macbeth, but I remember well that both Othello and Hamlet were driven 'mad' by their situations.
On a more modern note, I thoroughly enjoyed the movie, 'Dick and Jane Have Fun.' Perhaps I have lost some of you. And maybe I liked it because our home was in jeopardy when I saw it. Here is a movie where the protagonist loses his job because the CEO is a crook and Dick is an unknowing fall guy. To make matters worse, he had encouraged his wife to leave her job. This leads into a job search for Dick that is less then productive and totally embarrassing. Meanwhile Jane is desperate to keep the truth from the neighbors. After many embarrassing moments they start to rob stores and banks' making ridiculous what is a serious offense in society. At one store they force the staff to make them a coffee at gun point. In the end, they save the day for all the ex-employees and to avoid a spoiler in case you haven't seen the movie I will not tell you how.
The point of this little excursion into a modern movie is that you as a writer do not have to cast this plot, Wretched Excess, into tragedy but you can make it a comedy. It is up to you. Just remember, good writing starts with believable characters. Whatever the catalyst for your plot is, it must be believable.
We see our characters in a normal setting. The event strikes a blow that will begin to change who and what they are.
There is a gradual loss of control for your character. The reader witnesses his or her spiral out of control. Don't hide your characters struggles. You want the reader to have sympathy for the character no matter his crimes. The villain however, is another matter. The villain must be bad with no redeeming qualities or at least very few. The villain in the movie, 'Dick and Jane have fun,' is the CEO who is rich and flaunts it while his ex-employees suffer the consequence of his actions.
This begins at the point where the character loses control and spirals downward breaking the rules of society. At the end you almost always have, murder or mayhem, or on a lighter note, the protagonist pulls it together for a spectacular finish that leaves the reader cheering.
Now for the question. In my current whip, the secondary plot is Wretched Excess. Because it is the secondary plot, the protagonist doesn't lose control but must save others as the villain intends to destroy many of them.
Next week the plot will be Ascension & Descension. My spell check doesn't like the spelling of descension, but that is how it is spelled in the book, 20 Master Plots and how to build them, by Ronald B. Tobias. Next week's plot is also the last one.
Do you plan to use, Wretched Excess in any plot form?
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(This is post 300).