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The "Standard of Ur" from ancient Mesopotamia

The "Standard of Ur" from ancient Mesopotamia

15 May 2015

Complication cards, part three

 Ines Johnson is here for her third (and last) day of her series on complication cards. Today, she shows you how to put together what you did in the exercises in part 1 and part 2 to summarize the nut of your story or scene on a single index card.

Complication Cards, Part 3: The Scene
by Ines Johnson

You’ve discovered your character’s need and potentially their want, which is a false goal. You’ve learned about the four types of obstacles that can obstruct your character on the way to achieving their goals and filling their need. Now, to build a heart-pounding story where you send your character through the toughest obstacle course you can imagine, you should map out a blueprint for the course.

Four elements of a story

*Hero/heroine: Primary character looking to fill the void in their life

*Want: A false goal that the hero or heroine initially believes is their path to wholeness

*Obstacle: One of the four obstacles opposing the hero or heroine

*Need: The true goal of the hero or heroine, the thing that will satisfy their void

Examples of obstacle cards for different kinds of complications

Antagonist as complication
In the Cinderella adaptation Ever After, Danielle (heroine) works tirelessly to gain acceptance (want) from her stepmother (antagonist) until she realizes her family of friends, including the Prince, love her unconditionally (need).

Physical world as complication
In “The Little Mermaid” adaptation Splash, Madison (heroine) leaves the sea to be with Allen (want), but when her legs get wet and her fins come back (obstacle), she’s forced to tell Allen the truth of her existence in the hope that he’ll spend forever with her under the sea (need).

Inner or psychological problem as complication
In the unconventional fairy tale Shrek, Princess Fiona (heroine) hopes to be rescued by a knight in shining armor (want) who will break her curse (obstacle) until she realizes that true love is “color” blind (need).

Mystic force as complication
In The Frog Prince, Tiana (heroine) dreams of opening a restaurant (want), but her dream takes a slight detour when she’s turned into a frog (obstacle) along with Prince Naveen and learns to seek and take help from others (need).

Now it’s your turn. Fill out your own obstacle card for your story. If you want to take it a step further, fill out a card for each scene!


Ines Johnson writes romantic erotica, paranormal romance, and fairytale-retelling romance novels. You can find her Website at Part one of her newest romantic erotica book, The Loyal Steed, is at Amazon here. The complete serial can be preordered here.

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