I often listen to movie soundtracks when I’m writing, and listening to one particular piece of music always reminds me of the “Oh no!” movie moment it accompanies. Which got me thinking –
All the best plot twists are fundamentally unfair to the protagonist.
Your highly skilled protagonist has fought her way to the top floor of the skyscraper to rescue her sister – but the hostage is in fact in the heavily fortified penthouse one floor above, and it’s wired to blow if the protagonist enters.
Your protagonist the cake baker has pulled out all the stops to qualify for the Pastry Chef Of The World Competition – but this year, his arch-enemy has arranged for a savory round!!
Both those protagonists have worked hard, been brave and determined and sacrificed their own needs to get where they are. They deserve a break. They deserve, at the very least, justice. That’s only fair. But your plot should never allow them to get it.
Life should be completely and utterly unfair to your protagonist – with a little help from his enemies – because that’s what’s going to force him to rise to the challenge and become a better human being.