• Jessica Sherry

12+ Writing Ideas on Winning

Good things do happen. Yes, even to you and me. They don’t happen as often as we’d like, surely. But, they DO happen, and most of us out there must believe that or else we wouldn’t have been waiting in the long lines to buy lottery tickets the other day.


The MegaMillions drawing had reached $1.6 billion--the biggest amount in lottery history--and for a chance, however small, people flocked to convenience stores for tickets.


Conversations around dinner tables were of the what-would-you-do-with-that-kind-of-money variety.

“My own writer’s retreat with an ocean view, cushy chairs, a robot-like assistant and, of course, an endless supply of sticky notes, fun stationary, and good pens… ah!” ~ Me, on what I’d do with the money, for starters. 

Everyone was talking about it. People were excited, and ever hopeful. Good things do happen. Why not to me?

And for someone in South Carolina--it did.


Good things can even happen to your characters. It can't be all murder and mayhem and bad dates and awful bosses, right?


The lottery craziness reminded me of an old movie--It Could Happen to You--starring Nicholas Cage and Bridget Fonda. In it, Cage’s character doesn’t have enough money to leave his waitress, Bridget Fonda, a tip, so he promises her half the winnings of a lottery ticket instead--a situation that actually happened in real life in New York. Cage wins $4 million, and keeps his word, splitting the prize with the waitress, no matter the trouble it causes. Yeah, his wife was pissed.

Anyway, the point is, good things do happen – even to down-on-her-luck waitresses who didn’t even buy a ticket.


Good things can happen to your characters too--even things that seem unrealistic. A big win could be the thing that propels the MC into greater conflict. Any great prize comes with its own set of problems. Course, the stroke of good luck doesn't have to be the lottery. Here are some other wins that could shake your MC out of her comfort zone:


  • Winning the HGTV Dream Home--I get obsessed with this every year.

  • An unexpected inheritance

  • A robbery the MC actually gets away with

  • A new car--the Griswolds won four in Vegas Vacation

  • A political office

  • A game show--Check out the episode of The IT Crowd where Morris Moss wins a gameshow. Hysterical.

  • A spot on a reality show--there are soooo many of these now... take your pick!

  • A major sporting event

  • A spelling bee, debate, cheerleading competition, scholarship, singing competition, dinner with a celebrity

  • A local prize from the radio station... free plastic surgery, braces, backstage passes, a chance to be a deejay, meet the town's most famous person

  • A trip of a lifetime--The Griswolds won that in European Vacation... on a gameshow

  • A lifetime supply of_________


What could your MC win? What problems could arise from it? What might your MC obsess over? Share your winning insights below!


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