Friday, August 12, 2022

Flashes of Wonder Prompt: The Reversal

UKA THE UNDYING, the zombie sorcerer, is experimenting with flashes of dark magicks to blast the minds of bards! Illustration provided by Mustafa Bekir.

"Flashes of Wonder" is posted irregularly. It will feature a sword and sorcery flash fiction prompt. -JRC


Sword and sorcery plots are exciting. They are linguistic devices engineered to increase our pulse and respiration and to trigger the release of certain hormones: adrenaline, cortisol, dopamine, and more. They are most exciting at their climax point, their point of highest unresolved emotional tension. What do we mean by unresolved? Great climaxes are interesting because they involve protagonists we care about whose fates are yet to be decided. And climaxes are interesting because the stakes are so high. Almost always climaxes result in a transformation, of the protagonist, of the world, of the reader. 

Directly proceeding the climax is what we call the resolution, the narrative events that allow the pent up emotional tension to be dispersed. In endocrinological terms, certain hormones like adrenaline, cortisol, and dopamine are neutralized by resolutions. But there is a unique plot device deployed by some storytellers: the reversal. The reversal comes just after the resolution. Whatever happened in the climax--success, failure, or transformation--is swiftly, and often dramatically, reversed. This tool of the reversal is useful because it can extend the tension and set up an even more intense climax.    

Using the visual prompt of the sorcerer's tower provided above, write a 500 word scene that involves a protagonist resolving a conflict, and then render a reversal that reverses that resolution and sets up an even more intense climax.

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