4 Tips for Writing About Guilt in Fiction

We’ve all felt it. Many of us have lived with it and some of us can’t live without it: Guilt, the gift that keeps on giving. But can it give us a good story? It can—if it forms the basis of a character’s actions, if it’s authentic, if it isn’t tied up in a pretty bow, and if it has consequences.

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Tip #1: Make guilt the basis of a character’s actions.

In her book, Story Genius, Lisa Cron examines the psychology of what pulls us into a story. One of these elements is the main character’s “misbelief,” a perception that informs all a character’s actions. Feelings of guilt, whether justified or not, can form such a misbelief because it comes with so much baggage.

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