“A day will come when the story inside you will want to breathe on its own. That’s when you’ll start writing.”
– Sarah Noffke
Tragedy is literature is common among within the thriller genre. It’s one of the most popular genres to write about, keeping the readers suspenseful and turning the pages. The protagonist in this scenario is a bit different than other plot themes, however; this protagonist is a villain protagonist. The reader follows the protagonist as they get closer to the dark side, often harming themselves or others. At the end of the novel, if they don’t get what they want, this may lead to the death of the protagonist.
Let’s dive into the tragedy plot theme and take a closer look. First, we have the anticipation stage. The protagonist decides s/he wants something. They are going to have it, no matter the cost. The stakes are high for the character. This is often something that is missing out of their life. They may decide they want a lover–that is someone else’s lover. They may decide they want fame, fortune, a new car or to go on vacation. Yet–what the character does to get it shocks and surprises the readers. It leads them through outstanding plot twists that blindside the reader from beginning to end.
Next, we have the dream stage, where the character sets out to achieve their goal. A conflict occurs and the reader realizes there is no turning back. But, then it seems the protagonist is backing off a bit. Perhaps they are shying off from their evil ways. Only, it’s just the fact that nobody is bold enough to call them out on it. They are actually still working on their goal but on the down-low. They don’t want anyone to discourage them from achieving what they think they should have. After all, they have earned it or deserve it. That’s the mindset of your protagonist.
We now see the frustration stage. Your character is hitting a whole host of road blocks. If he wanted a lover, maybe a conflict is that person not wanting the protagonist. It’s essential you show the reader the protagonist’s reaction. What else do they encounter? Remember, each action has a reaction. Did the protagonist punch somebody? What was the reaction of the other person? The reader is going to be confused if you don’t put it in the novel. At this point in the novel, the protagonist is committing to evil on a more serious level. They are going back to the drawing board and seeing what else they could to get attention. If they were rejected, for instance, how can s/he win the lover over? But, in this stage of the novel, the protagonist is sealing her or his fate. From now on, anything that happens to them can only end poorly.
This is when readers see the protagonist enter into the nightmare stage. The character is unraveling. Things are not going their way at all. They were rejected by the lover and weren’t able to win their love. He’s sensing that opposition is moving in. The character may be paranoid and always watching over their shoulder. They may use devices to see or hear through buildings or cars, while thinking that everyone is always plotting against them. They are prepared to do what they have to in order to succeed at their goal, but at this moment they are deathly fearful of it.
Finally, we see the character enter into the destruction or death wish stage. The protagonist has encountered violence, either due to self-infliction or violence being inflicted upon them. Either way, they are in destruction mode and want to end it. This plot theme is often thought of as a flipped overcoming the monster plot theme. A classic example is William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. This plot theme is usually fast-paced, full of shocking and dangerous plot twists, and is a guaranteed page turner. If you love thrillers, try to write one. It’s sure to push you to the limit.