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Mastering Suspense, Structure, and Plot by Jane Cleland

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Chapter Six

Isolate Your Protagonist—and Everyone Else

Isolation tempers the strong.

—Paul Cézanne

Isolation, a Tool of Suspense

Isolation might temper the strong, but it also can crush the weak. In order to capitalize on this complex tool’s multifaceted strengths, you need to understand its power. Both physical isolation (e.g., solitary confinement) and social isolation (e.g., social anxiety leading to agoraphobia) can be used in three ways: as a plot point or TRD, as a theme, or as backstory to explain a certain character attribute. In this chapter, we’ll examine all sides of isolation. We’ll discuss how to use isolation to drive action and consider how isolation can be used thematically. We’ll also examine how isolation can explain certain ...

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