Plunge Your Main Characters into Terrible Trouble

Plunge your main characters into terrible trouble and write to see what happens. It’s the single-most greatest advice I’ve ever received. For someone like myself who’s a wannabe outliner but definitely finds a way to deviate from my outline, terrible trouble is the best way to write my way out of a corner.

If you’re stuck or are experiencing writer’s block on a work, just use the element of surprise and create some good old, healthy conflict.

Sure, you don’t want to overdo it, but let me give you an extreme example.

We’re going to make our protagonist in the mold of the Cleveland Browns.

Now, if you don’t know anything about the NFL, don’t worry, because I’m going to give you some good insight on the NFL’s most snake-bitten franchise, the most recent of which came…yesterday.


Rebuilding Since 1964

The 1964 Cleveland Browns epitomized everything an NFL Franchise should become, and all NFL Franchises wanted to be them.

It was also the last time the Browns won an NFL Championship, three years before Super Bowl I.

Since 1964, the following occurred.

1. The Browns lost sixteen straight road games to the Pittsburgh Steelers until the mid-1980’s. The Steelers, likewise, morphed into what was then the NFL’s greatest dynasty.

2. The Browns saw a new hope in the 1980’s, only to lose three AFC Championship Games, two of which in heartbreaking fashion that became known in NFL lore as The Drive and The Fumble.

3. In 1995, after being projected by numerous outlets to make the Super Bowl that season, then-Browns Owner Art Modell announced he was going to move the team to Baltimore to play the 1996 season. It’s fair to mention the Browns Head Coach at the time was none other than Bill Belichick.

4. In 1999, the Browns returned, but have made the playoffs only once in 2002, losing to the Pittsburgh Steelers in heartbreaking fashion.

5. Josh Gordon, today arguably the most talented Cleveland Brown, who led the league in receiving in 2013, and is the only player in NFL history to post back-to-back two-hundred yard receiving games, was suspended for twelve games in 2014, all of 2015, all of 2016, and twelve games in 2017. He’s currently returned to drug rehab and has yet to appear in training camp for 2018. He’s been suspended for 56 of his last 64 possible games.

6. The Browns have finished last in the AFC North the last seven seasons, the longest streak in NFL history.

7. Since December 2015, they’re 1-34, the worst stretch of games in NFL history. In the last two seasons, they’re 1-31. Since September 27th, 2015, they’re 3-43.

8. In 2017, they became just the second team in NFL history to finish a season 0-16.

9. They’ve had the largest starting quarterback turnover of any team since 1999, where Tyrod Taylor becomes the 28th different starting quarterback to take the reins. Since returning to the league, only Tim Couch started every game in a single season (2001).

10. They’re 4-32 against their biggest rival, the Pittsburgh Steelers, since returning to the league in 1999.

Are we having fun yet?

11. And just yesterday, rookie receiver Antonio Callaway, who has every bit as much talent as Josh Gordon to the point the Browns traded former first round pick Corey Coleman to the Buffalo Bills Sunday night, was cited for marijuana possession and driving with a suspended license. Callaway had previously been suspended by the NCAA for all of 2017 after being charged with credit card fraud, topping off a list of other run-ins he had with the law in his college days.


The Terrible Trouble Blueprint

Let me tell you something, this is the exact blueprint for a main protagonist. Put them into as much terrible trouble as possible and write to see what happens. Hopefully, when things reach their breaking point, something good will happen, like in the Browns’ case, a Lombardi Trophy would be nice. Or a winning season. Hell, winning a game would be a step in the right direction!

Either way, the goal is simple; put your Cleveland Browns into as much terrible trouble as you can and write to find out what happens to them. Something good might eventually happen when things look bleaker than bleak.

Perhaps give your readers hope; you want them to root for your main protagonist. Do so, and you’ll start building a readership. It’ll be slow at first; it always is, especially if you’re new to the game like me, but over time, you’ll see the fruits of your hard work pay off, to where you’ll be able to fire your boss!


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