• 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 is learning to say nothing, more cleverly every day. "
William Allingham

Random picks

  • Blog Posting is taking over the Internet these days. Everybody has something to share with an audience online. There are so many reasons for people to blog, it can affect what you must keep in mind to build your blog to great success. Using the following tips will make it easier for your blog to succeed. Do not copy other people’s articles. One of the most important things your blog can cultivate is a reputation for honesty and reliability. Even the smallest bit of plagiarized content puts that reputation at risk. To be successful with your blog it’s not important to be a...
  • People are running home businesses with an intention to have a balance between families and job these days and you should not miss out the chance too. The very easy and common option is you can possibly set up an online data entry jobs work from home business from your house. In these contemporary times, data entry home based businesses to earn money at home are generally becoming increasingly popular since 2001. Companies have to manage massive volume of information on a daily basis, therefore, demanding many data entry workers to support processing the data. In case these information are...
  • ANNUAL MEMBERSHIP MEETING May 29 at the Center for Fiction, 17 East 47th Street The 2013 annual meeting of the National Book Critics Circle will take place the day before Book Expo begins in New York City. Our host will be the Center for Fiction at 17 East 47th Street,  New York, NY 10017. We'll kick off at 1:30 p.m. with our membership meeting, then will hold two stellar panels and will finish up with time to mingle at a wine reception. Annual Membership Meeting  1:30pm: At this year's annual meeting, we'll be discussing the organization of our awards, including...
  • The world of employment is extremely competitive, especially in today's economy. Millions of people are vying for jobs each day, and each person is represented by one document: their resume. As your sole representation to potential employers, your resume is a very important manuscript. A good resume does three things: it catches the attention of potential employers, it enumerates your qualifications and skills, and it sells your capabilities.
  • Special thanks to Ilya Kaminsky for his reading at Saginaw Valley State University in Saginaw, Michigan last night. What a treat to see him and hear him read in our own back yard. For the time, we forgot about the cold dreary damp of winter, rapt in his lyrical recitations. Still not familiar with Kaminsky? Check out his book Dancing in Odessa from Tupelo Press, and hear him read "Author's Prayer

Recommended sites

Most recent titles

Fast fact about writing

By definition, the modern practice of history begins with written records; evidence of human culture without writing is the realm of prehistory.