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Photobucket [1]Ever had a change of fortune? Did you see it coming?

Probably not. Windfalls are like that. Losses too. We’re taken by surprise. Suddenly we’re hurtling the wrong direction down the highway. Assumptions flip over. The world spins upside down. Coins fall out of our pockets, or into them. We’re weightless. We’re falling, or rising, unsure when or where we’ll come to ground.

Turnabouts and reversals are dramatic in fiction, too. They’re also rare. In most manuscripts things unfold in a familiar pattern. Tension may be high but we’re pretty sure where we’re heading. The expected destination arrives.

Turning your protagonist’s world upside down is hard to do. It’s messy. It’s scary. But, oh, the impact on the reader is huge. Here are some prompts to help you reverse directions in your story.

The weightless moment when the roller coaster tops the highest peak, the scary plunge about to begin, is breathless and alive. To create that effect in your fiction you’ve first got to construct the roller coaster rise. Crank your characters up, up, up.then fling them out into the blue.

Will they fly or crash? That’s up to you. Either way, there’s going to be a radical change of direction-and a weightless, breathless, exhilarating moment in your story.

Photo courtesy Flickr’s peggyhr [2]

About Donald Maass [3]

Donald Maass is president of the Donald Maass Literary Agency [4]. He has written several highly acclaimed craft books for novelists including The Breakout Novelist [5], The Fire in Fiction [6], Writing the Breakout Novel [7]and The Career Novelist [8].