• strict warning: Declaration of FeedsImporter::copy() should be compatible with FeedsConfigurable::copy(FeedsConfigurable $configurable) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/feeds/includes/FeedsImporter.inc on line 94.
  • strict warning: Declaration of FeedsNodeProcessor::map() should be compatible with FeedsProcessor::map($source_item, $target_item = NULL) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/feeds/plugins/FeedsNodeProcessor.inc on line 319.
  • strict warning: Declaration of FeedsNodeProcessor::setTargetElement() should be compatible with FeedsProcessor::setTargetElement(&$target_item, $target_element, $value) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/feeds/plugins/FeedsNodeProcessor.inc on line 319.
  • strict warning: Declaration of FeedsFeedNodeProcessor::map() should be compatible with FeedsProcessor::map($source_item, $target_item = NULL) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/feeds/plugins/FeedsFeedNodeProcessor.inc on line 227.
  • strict warning: Declaration of FeedsFeedNodeProcessor::setTargetElement() should be compatible with FeedsProcessor::setTargetElement(&$target_item, $target_element, $value) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/feeds/plugins/FeedsFeedNodeProcessor.inc on line 227.
  • strict warning: Declaration of FeedsUserProcessor::map() should be compatible with FeedsProcessor::map($source_item, $target_item = NULL) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/feeds/plugins/FeedsUserProcessor.inc on line 195.
  • warning: preg_replace(): Compilation failed: disallowed Unicode code point (>= 0xd800 && <= 0xdfff) at offset 1809 in /home/writezil/public_html/modules/search/search.module on line 334.
  • warning: preg_replace(): Compilation failed: disallowed Unicode code point (>= 0xd800 && <= 0xdfff) at offset 1809 in /home/writezil/public_html/modules/search/search.module on line 334.
  • warning: preg_replace(): Compilation failed: disallowed Unicode code point (>= 0xd800 && <= 0xdfff) at offset 1809 in /home/writezil/public_html/modules/search/search.module on line 334.
  • warning: preg_replace(): Compilation failed: disallowed Unicode code point (>= 0xd800 && <= 0xdfff) at offset 1809 in /home/writezil/public_html/modules/search/search.module on line 334.
  • warning: preg_replace(): Compilation failed: disallowed Unicode code point (>= 0xd800 && <= 0xdfff) at offset 1809 in /home/writezil/public_html/modules/search/search.module on line 334.
  • warning: preg_replace(): Compilation failed: disallowed Unicode code point (>= 0xd800 && <= 0xdfff) at offset 1809 in /home/writezil/public_html/modules/search/search.module on line 334.
  • You must include at least one positive keyword with 3 characters or more.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 843.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_display::options_validate() should be compatible with views_plugin::options_validate(&$form, &$form_state) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_display.inc on line 1877.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_display_block::options_submit() should be compatible with views_plugin_display::options_submit(&$form, &$form_state) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_display_block.inc on line 193.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_field_broken::ui_name() should be compatible with views_handler::ui_name($short = false) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_field.inc on line 641.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_sort_broken::ui_name() should be compatible with views_handler::ui_name($short = false) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_sort.inc on line 82.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter::options_validate() should be compatible with views_handler::options_validate($form, &$form_state) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter.inc on line 585.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter::options_submit() should be compatible with views_handler::options_submit($form, &$form_state) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter.inc on line 585.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter_broken::ui_name() should be compatible with views_handler::ui_name($short = false) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter.inc on line 609.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter_boolean_operator::value_validate() should be compatible with views_handler_filter::value_validate($form, &$form_state) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter_boolean_operator.inc on line 128.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_style_default::options() should be compatible with views_object::options() in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_style_default.inc on line 25.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_row::options_validate() should be compatible with views_plugin::options_validate(&$form, &$form_state) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_row.inc on line 135.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_row::options_submit() should be compatible with views_plugin::options_submit(&$form, &$form_state) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_row.inc on line 135.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 843.
  • strict warning: Declaration of content_handler_field::options() should be compatible with views_object::options() in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/cck/includes/views/handlers/content_handler_field.inc on line 208.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 843.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 843.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 843.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 843.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_argument::init() should be compatible with views_handler::init(&$view, $options) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_argument.inc on line 745.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_argument_broken::ui_name() should be compatible with views_handler::ui_name($short = false) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_argument.inc on line 770.

Spells, Palls, and Poisoned Apples

http://writerunboxed.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Tim-Deegan-300x216.jpg 300w, http://writerunboxed.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Tim-Deegan-557x400.jpg 557w, http://writerunboxed.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Tim-Deegan.jpg 640w" sizes="(max-width: 525px) 100vw, 525px" />Flickr Creative Commons: Tim Deegan
Have you ever been under a spell?  I will bet that you have.  Have you ever fallen in love?  The initial infatuation is a kind of spell.  Against all reason, everything about the loved one is good.  He or she is attractive, adorable, fascinating, delightful.  That phase is followed later by others, naturally, but for a time the loved one is seen through enchanted eyes.
Have you ever fallen under a pall?  That’s likely too.  Have you ever had a day when nothing goes right?  You know that day.  The toast burns, the car battery dies, and you get dumped.  What else can you expect?  It’s a miserable day, that’s all.  There’s nothing you can do about it.
Have you ever taken a bite of a poisoned apple?  Probably so.  Did you ever learn a secret that you wish you hadn’t?  Have you ever cheated on a test?  Or a spouse?  Have you read someone else’s e-mail, texts or diary?  Is there a gift you wish you’d never received?  Have you come into money that did you no good?
The main difference between the spells, palls, and poisoned apples that befall us and those that befall characters in stories is that we mostly brush those things off.  For us, those things pass.  In stories, they don’t.  Or shouldn’t.  Why?   Because a spell is a golden plot opportunity.  A pall can hang around, affecting many.  A bite of a poisoned apple can have far-reaching consequences.  Spells, palls and poisoned apples can be the impetus for a story.  They can be a novel’s inciting incident, framework and main focus.
To profit from bewitchment and bad luck you don’t have to be writing a fairy tale.  Any story can benefit.  Spells can overtake anyone, or enchant anyplace.  A buoyant or gloomy mood can brighten or darken any scene.  Any protagonist can be cursed with knowledge, burdened with someone’s secret, or be punished for a poor choice.  When the people in your story are in thrall, there’s a good chance that we will be enthralled too.
Here are some ways to work the magic:

  • With whom or what can your protagonist (or any other character) be fascinated?  With whom or what is he or she obsessed?  What is it about this object of fascination that is so puzzling or pleasing?  What’s the strangest way in which this fascination can take hold?
  • How do we see that your protagonist is unable to control this fascination?  What is the greatest length to which your protagonist might go to indulge or assuage this fascination?  How does your protagonist try to quit this fascination, but fail?
  • What does your protagonist lose because of this fascination?  What’s the greatest possible cost?  Make your protagonist pay. 
  • What past event haunts your protagonist?  Twist it until it is utterly horrible, and/or has a devastating personal cost.  How does it underlie your protagonist’s present actions?  How many ways can this old event be reflected or symbolically recreated in the present?
  • How is your protagonist (or any other character) charmed or cursed?  What’s the biggest lucky reward or worst unlucky punishment?  What object or event symbolizes, or even initiates, this charm or curse?  Why is that object or event difficult to get rid of or forget?
  • After a plot setback, send in a mood of gloom.  How is it felt?  How do your protagonist and others act differently?  What events are cancelled?  Who is unable to do normal things?  Who gives up, quits or changes his or her life?  How?
  • Who in the story can forecast doom?  Who believes in imminent disaster, looming chaos, or conspiracies?  When is that person proved right?  How many pieces of bad luck can you pile on?
  • What lifts the gloom?  What signals the arrival of a new day?
  • By whom or what is your protagonist tempted?  What is the smallest way in which your protagonist can surrender to temptation?  (Just a little won’t hurt!)  What is the biggest possible consequence for having done so?
  • What piece of loaded information can your protagonist discover or learn?  What danger does having this knowledge pose?  What’s the worst trouble it can bring? 
  • How can your protagonist be sent to sleep or be blinded?  What goes wrong as a result? 
  • In what way can your protagonist be sickened?  What cures fail?  What is the ultimate antidote and how can it be delayed?
  • Can your protagonist be a subject of a prophecy, prediction, or premonition?  Who knows in advance what your protagonist is in for?  When can that warning be delivered?

There’s no end of fun you can have with spells, palls, and poisoned apples.  They can work in any kind of story.  There are many ways to enchant, obsess, haunt, charm, curse, cloud, tempt, blind, sicken, single out, or warn protagonists.
Such elements hark back to fairy tales, perhaps, but it’s funny…we don’t mind.  Who doesn’t want to be swept away?
What spell, pall, or poisoned apple is at work in your story?  Let us know!

Wish you could buy this author a cup of joe?

Now, thanks to tinyCoffee and PayPal, you can!

About Donald MaassDonald Maass is president of the Donald Maass Literary Agency. He has written several highly acclaimed craft books for novelists including The Breakout Novelist, The Fire in Fiction, Writing the Breakout Novel and The Career Novelist.Web | Twitter | Facebook | More Posts

"Writing, I think, is not apart from living. Writing is a kind of double living. The writer experiences everything twice. Once in reality and once in that mirror which waits always before or behind."
Catherine Drinker Bowen

Random picks

  • So you have a great idea for a website that you want to start, promote or even write an eBook about. You've done all the market research and found it to be a highly searched niche with very low competition. You sit down at your computer with a big happy grin and start thinking about all the money that's going to start coming into your PayPal account.
  • In Croatian writer Zoran Janjanin’s short story of personal love and loss complicated by national conflict, two ex-lovers assess the impact of the Croatian War of Independence on their teenage relationship, twenty years later.    He noticed her out in front of the courthouse on a sunny spring afternoon. He couldn’t place where he knew her from; intrigued, he followed her for a few minutes before he mustered the courage to speak up. As graciously as he could, he...
  • No preamble from me today…But, short and sweet, here’s the line-up for this coming week on Vulpes LIbris: Monday Eve makes sure we’re all jealous about her holiday by name dropping Cancun into her review of the gripping psychological thriller, Until You’re Mine by Samantha Hayes Wednesday Lisa is back with a round-up of fun picture books. Friday Kirsty writes about a book she didn’t know was formative: Henry Wynmalen’s Dressage: a Study of the Finer Points of Riding. ——— This beautiful flying fox is from Stefan Kellner’s Flickr set,...
  • To build a good opt in list of subscribers you wish people to trust you quickly. The faster you build your list the faster word concerning your site and company can spread. Sharing your information; by being honest, not their to bluff them, and straightforward for them to opt off the list are the most keys for your introduction.
  • Today’s return guest is author lyndee') //-->lyndee">LynDee Walker, whose second novel Buried Leads released just two weeks ago. LynDee Walker grew up in the land of stifling heat and amazing food most people call Texas, and wanted to be Lois Lane from the time she could say the words “press conference.” An award-winning journalist, LynDee traded cops and deadlines for burp cloths and onesies when her oldest child was born. Writing the Headlines in High Heels mysteries gives her the best of both worlds. LynDee is a member of Sisters in Crime and James River Writers....

Recommended sites

Most recent titles

Fast fact about writing

It has been said that a monkey, randomly typing away on a typewriter (in the days when typewriters replaced the pen or plume as the preferred instrument of writing) could re-create Shakespeare-- but only if it lived long enough (this is known as the infinite monkey theorem).