The Misfortune Teller

Writers need to be mean to their characters! Right? Exciting stories have high stakes and tons of conflict. If you're looking for ways to ratchet up the tension and get your character deeper into trouble, I've designed a fun activity for you.

I've coined it THE MISFORTUNE TELLER. It's based on the childhood folded-paper game called a Fortune Teller (or sometimes a Cootie Catcher). This one won't predict good fortune for your character. It delivers lots of horrible misfortune.

On the inside, you'll find general categories of misfortune: Public Humiliation, Secret Exposed, Something Crucial Lost, Mortal Danger, and so on. The possibilities are endless. Once your character receives a misfortune, it's up to you to decide what specific disaster will unfold (pun intended). For example, if you land on Unjust Accusation, maybe a teacher has accused your character of cheating on a test, or a parent thinks he's lying. Maybe a king arrests your character for a crime she didn't do or a government thinks your protagonist unleashed the zombie-kitten apocalypse. You'll find something perfectly dreadful, I'm certain.

Here's a template you can print off. If you don't have a seven-year old around who knows how to fold it, try these instructions: How to fold a fortune teller?

I'd love to hear how it works for you! Or let me know if you discover another misfortune you want to add. Send me a comment at my Facebook author page.