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Headaches as Plot Devices in NaNoWriMo

We all know about the cliche of a wife having a headache when the husband is feeling amorous. But what are some other ways to turn a headache into a key plot point, to liven up your story?

We'll of course tackle that cliche first. The husband is in the mood. The wife isn't. So when he approaches her with a smile on his lips, she turns away and says, "I'm sorry, honey. Not tonight. I have a headache." His smile droops and his shoulders slump. Why not turn this cliche on its ear? Have the wife be the one in the mood, and the husband too busy playing Call of Duty. Or have both of them in the mood, but then their toddler wanders into the bedroom, telling them he has a headache, and climbing up between them.

Headaches can come on instantly, making them wonderful for all sorts of writing situations. Someone could be driving their car, suddenly get a massive migraine, and have to pull over. This could be the reason they end up going into X cafe or running into Y person.

Maybe have a character who has an herbal tea habit because of the headaches they tend to have. They're always sipping ginger tea because it helps to sooth the headaches. Maybe they have a rosemary plant in their kitchen and when they feel a headache coming on they go to rub their hands through it, breathing in the fresh aroma.

Could it be that this headache is really a sign of something serious, and they keep ignoring it because they are too busy or too attentive to others' needs? Sometimes a headache is a sign of a stroke. You could have your character ignore the symptoms, plugging on with a project they're working on, and then disaster strikes. A headache could also mean something equally serious like a brain tumor.

On the other hand, we all know hypochondriacs. Maybe this headache is just a minor stress reaction, and the character suddenly decides they are dying and goes on a wild spending spree or gives away all their possessions. Maybe they go to every doctor in town, convinced they are ill with every item Google shows on its results screen.

Come on by our forum to talk about your novel, and we'll offer advice about how your character could act or talk!

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