How To Write A Revenge Plot

Most Murder Mysteries are based on a revenge plot. There are three phases to this:-

1. The Crime. The person seeking revenge seeks retaliation against the person they feel is responsible for a real or imagined crime. In plots where the person seeking revenge is the hero it is important for the writer to provide some sort of moral justification for vengeance. This stage will first establish the normal life of the victim and go into the changes which occur as a result of the crime.

2. Revenge. Usually the protagonist will start by trying to deal with the crime through conventional means, for example calling in the Police. The frustration of this not being successful is an important stage in the building of the plot. The hero will eventually give up and go for ‘wild’ justice, a vigilante effort that usually goes outside the limits of the law. The reader’s loyalty to the hero may be tested resulting in disapproval or, at least, concern for the consequences of the actions being taken.

3. Confrontation. The stage between the protagonist deciding to take revenge into his or her own hands and confrontation often takes the form of a chase. Tempo builds and, if handled well, this will result in excitement and, perhaps, anxiety for the reader. The antagonist may evade the hero’s vengeance several times before final confrontation.

Often, in the final stage of Confrontation, the hero’s carefully laid plans will go wrong and he will need to improvise. If the protagonist is to maintain his position as a hero it is important that the revenge is not more severe than the crime (the punishment must fit the crime) and if this is achieved then the hero is allowed to go unpunished. This ending is cathartic for the audience.



Filed under murder mystery, Writing

9 responses to “How To Write A Revenge Plot

  1. TaxCoach

    Thanks for sharing. With it, I could write a thrill in the weekend. I like revenge, plot, but forgive, give up, peaceful living after. Just something different.

  2. Interesting, I never really considered the Hero being punishable.

  3. As the chase progresses, it usually appears that the criminal is always one step ahead and therefore unable to be caught. The hero is often an “ordinary” person, thrown in at the deep end until he discovers that he has hidden talents and, in the end, plots ahead of the game to achieve the capture. But the interplay of a “meeting of equals” is necessary as the pursuit continues.

  4. jackiebarrie

    The most common stories of revenge that I can think of are when jilted lovers put prawns in the curtain pole or grass seed in the carpet.

  5. Jessica

    Really interesting and useful post. Thanks!
    Jessica, the ABC of Murder blog,

  6. celebs without makeup

    The Revenge Plot is one of the best for a murder mystery. It drives people to take extreme actions, it can take over a person’s mind and make them act as if they are deranged. Lust for revenge can take root in a person’s soul and grow within them like poison ivy, taking over their whole mind and body just as the voracious ivy plant will take over another plant. Revenge is fascinating, but I hope I never provoke anyone to seek to take it out on me!

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