The Rule of Cruel Optimism: Truth v. Lies

One of my favourite jokes goes like this: There’s an optimist and a pessimist. The pessimist puts his head in his hands and says, “Oh no, things can’t get any worse!” And the optimist replies, “Oh yes they can!”

When I write fiction, I find it useful to apply the structure of this joke to plots. I think of it as the Rule of Cruel Optimism, and its mechanism is simple: You put your central character in a situation where they think their life can’t get any worse, and then you make it do just that.

Read more (outside link)