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Addiction on Trial: Tragedy in Downeast Maine

The McGuffin:

A McGuffin is a plot device in fiction that creates the hook to keep the reader reading. For example, in a thriller, we usually read on to find out who the murderer was; or why the loving husband left his wife and had facial reconstruction surgery; or if the head of a crime syndicate becomes the next president. But what happens at the end of the story is not the driving force for the reader. Mostly, we keep reading because we care about the characters and we want to know how they fare. In actuality, there are multiple ways the story might end – the murderer could end up being any one of several people; maybe the husband was running from the law, or maybe he wanted to collect on a life insurance policy; maybe the head of the crime syndicate does become president; or maybe he dies on inauguration night. There are many ways the novel could end while still making an impact and bonding readers to characters.

  • Does Addiction on Trial create a McGuffin scenario?
  • Would changing the final verdict of the trial significantly alter the message?

Kurt Vonnegut Writing Tips:

  1. Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.
  2. Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.
  3. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them-in order that the reader may see what they are made of.
  4. Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To hell with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.

            Does Addiction on Trial accomplish Vonnegut's Tips?


  • What message(s) did you take away?
  • The antagonist of a story is the principal character in opposition to the protagonist; an adversary. Define the antagonist in Addiction on Trial.
  • Was the message(s) delivered in a manner that was not distracting from the enjoyment of reading?
  • What character(s) did you feel empathy for; and explain why?
  • Were there any characters that you wish had been more fully developed?
  • Was the ending a surprise?
  • Were you disappointed by the outcome of the trial?
  • Would you read a sequel and if so, who/what would you like the focus to be?

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