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Plot Twist Story Prompts: Mercy Moment

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, have your character show mercy.

Plot twist story prompts aren't meant for the beginning or the end of stories. Rather, they're for forcing big and small turns in the anticipated trajectory of a story. This is to make it more interesting for the readers and writers alike.

Each week, I'll provide a new prompt to help twist your story. Find last week's prompt, False Flag, here.

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Mercy Moment

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Mercy Moment

For today's prompt, have your character show mercy. Call it the height of character or the stupidity of the protagonist (or even antagonist), but stories are often kept alive by a moment of mercy shown by one character when their opponent is on the actual or metaphorical ropes.

(Why Curiosity Is the Mainspring of Successful Fiction.)

There are so many examples, but one place my mind goes to immediately (of all the places) is the animated movie The Lion King (spoiler alert). The main antagonist Scar is given so many mercy moments, and he takes advantage of each of them to kill his brother Mufasa and become king. Even near the end, Simba shows his murderous uncle mercy, and it almost backfires on him.

But don't think that only protagonists can show mercy. Baddies have the ability to show mercy to their goody-two-shoes rivals, but also to other baddies (since I'm already thinking in terms of animation, how about Starscream being spared more than once by Megatron and Skeletor sparing more than one of his underlings as they try to usurp his power). In a way, mercy shown by an antagonist can be more powerful than the mercy shown by a protagonist.

Whether good or bad, a mercy moment early on can add impact and foreshadowing to a future conflict that has a more permanent solution. So have your character show mercy, and see what happens next.

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40 Plot Twist Prompts for Writers, Volume 2: ALL NEW Writing Ideas for Taking Your Stories in New Directions, by Robert Lee Brewer

Have you hit a wall on your work-in-progress? Maybe you know where you want your characters to end up, but don’t know how to get them there. Or, the story feels a little stale but you still believe in it. Adding a plot twist might be just the solution.

Click to continue.

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