every woman adores a fascist -- sylvia plath

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Aristotles Poetics in 5 Easy Steps. Step 3: The Horror

Step 3:  The Horror.  The tragedy must be horrifying to the audience.   It must take the liked, well respected main character, and unexpectedly destroy them... but not completely.  The best tragedies are ones where the character avoids the tragic end, but it still lingers as a probable ending in their lives.  It's far more frightening to know that your violent painful death (or killing your child or whatever) can come unexpectedly at any time than to actually do it, or know when it will happen.  The actual tragedy is the constant potential fate of the character.  Yes, they avoid that tragic ending in your story, but only temporarily and not in a happy ending kind of way:  the don't defeat their fate.  Quite the opposite, the tragic ending is now known by the tragic hero and it now constantly lingers in the background of their life, waiting to strike at any moment.

When you design your story, your character's suffering should be something they are able to avoid but never defeat.