#219: A Backwards Story Framed as a Lesson on Fiction Writing for the 28th of the Month of April


The resolution might be that there is no resolution.
Let’s say for example that she can never be reconciled with her sister.
In the crisis moment we reach a turning point,
a confrontation, perhaps, or a situation from which there
is no turning around or escape and must ultimately change
things forever. Let’s say that as the woman challenges
her sister for allowing her daughter, the woman’s niece,
to borrow excessive amounts of money from her mother
and is met with denial and anger and abuse, the woman understands
that she must disown and disconnect this sibling
from her life entirely, and this is a choice she must
make for her own happiness and well-being and to protect
her 85 year old mother, susceptible to all kinds of manipulation.
A series of complications rachet up the drama of the central
conflict: secret meetings, lies from the grandmother
to her own daughter, insistences that everything is on the up and up
and lots of evidence to the contrary, unexplainable bills
paid for by the 85 year old, for example. First, one must
introduce a conflict, such as a situation in which a sister
who refuses to be involved in her mother’s life still
nevertheless wants to benefit from her mother’s largess
and need for approval from said estranged daughter, while
the responsible child, the woman, the hero of our story
plays interference on behalf of her mother and out of a sense
of familial justice. What follows may sound kind of formulaic,
but as you will see, for fiction writers looking for a sure-fire
framework on which to hang a story, it proves to be
quite serviceable most of the time.


Published by michaeljarmer

I'm a public high school English teacher, fiction writer, poet, and musician in Portland, Oregon

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