What are the things that matter to your characters? What things matter to your readers? After we get the obligatory ambiguity out of the way, we settle into talking about the “stakes” and the escalation thereof.
As authors, we want our readers to feel that something is at risk, and that action on the part of the protagonist is important. It might only be important to the protagonist, but whether the world is at stake, or just one person’s reputation, the reader needs to believe that this matters.
In many outlining techniques (three-act structure, seven-point story structure, Hollywood formula) the writer is told to “raise the stakes” at certain points. So, not only must we put things at risk, we must find ways to either increase the amount of risk, or increase the character response to the risk already present.
We talk about the sorts of things that can be treated as “stakes” in the stories we tell, and how we can go about raising those stakes.
Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: Control Point: Shadow Ops, by Myke Cole, narrated by Corey Jackson
Writing Prompt: Raise the stakes without resorting to risks to reputation, livelihood, or mental health. Or explosions. Don’t use those, either.
This episode of Writing Excuses has been brought to you by Audible. Visit http://AudiblePodcast.com/excuse for a free trial membership*.
*Note: From the Audible website, here are the terms of the free membership. Read the fine print, please!
Audible® Free Trial Details
* Get your first 30 days of the AudibleListener® Gold membership plan free, which includes one credit. In almost all cases, one credit equals one audiobook. After your 30 day trial, your membership will automatically renew each month for just $14.95, billed to the credit card you used when you registered with Audible. With your membership, you will receive one credit per month plus members-only discounts on all audio purchases. If you cancel your membership before your free trial period is up, you will not be charged. Thereafter, cancel anytime, effective the next billing cycle. See the complete terms and policy applicable to Audible memberships.
This entry was posted on Sunday, November 18th, 2012 at 7:19 pm and is filed under Characters, Conflicts, Structure. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.