I’m not big on regrets. Everything experience contributes to the person we become, so there’s not much point in wishing to change the past.
But everyone has regrets.
Write A Story Centering On A Character Wrestling With A Big Regret
- Think of a character (do this exercise: adjective noun; e.g. nervous housewife; tired teacher; suicidal businessman; carefree duke)
- Give that character one thing in their past that they regret.
- Think about how this thing has affected where they are today.
- Ask yourself what would this character do if given a chance to act on the regret (to confront the person it concerned, to change the decision they made, to make amends, to take revenge).
- Think about the different options open to your character. How does each of them work with the person the character has become in the intervening years? (A rich young man with no responsibilities might swear revenge on the woman who broke his heart. When he meets her again, as an older man who has inherited his wealth and title, does he still want revenge? What will it mean for him if he takes revenge? Is it worth it?)
- Decide which course of action your character will take (or not take).
- Set them on the road to taking that course of action.
- Now start the story. Don’t start with the backstory. Start with them on the road, in the room, in the middle of the fight, in the midst of the heist. You can weave the backstory into the conversations they have during the story.
- Make sure to let the reader know what’s at stake.