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The Emotional Craft of Fiction by Donald Maass

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Chapter 5

The Emotional Plot

Most fiction writers have a pretty good grasp of plot. They work on it, worry about it, and use templates as varied as snowflakes and the hero’s journey to develop it. Scene checklists help them keep things moving. Microtension keeps readers turning every page. Get plot down and your novel will have a firm foundation, right? True enough, and yet even airtight plots can fail to keep us emotionally engaged. Why is that?

Let’s discuss.

Many authors motivate their characters with external circumstances. I must do this, because if I don’t, that will happen. The stakes in such stories are also external. Things need to come out right or, gosh, life will be terrible for everyone. There’s nothing wrong with what I call public ...

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