June 15th, 2016


Writing Excuses 11.24: Stakes!

Writing Excuses 11.24: Stakes!

From http://www.writingexcuses.com/2016/06/12/11-24-stakes/

Key Points: Raise the stakes does not mean make it more world shattering. What are stakes? Things that keep your characters from walking away from conflicts. What keeps people fighting when they have conflicting goals? What is important enough to keep them in the game? Often, the difference between a hero and a villian is the magnitude and type of stakes they are fighting over. To raise the stakes, don't add more villians or explosions, make it more personal for the main character. The destruction of the galaxy? Who cares? Saving the life of a friend? We're with y'a! Make it personal, and make the audience care. Get into the character's head and show us why it matters, what motivates them. Be aware, we can empathize with a villian, or with thieves in a heist. Consider likability, competency, and proactivity! Build engagement with character sliders. Don't forget selflessness and sacrifice as ways to build empathy. The Cornwell trick? Establish two sets of stakes, put them in conflict, and let the main character sacrifice personal gain for greater good. Revenge stories and other selfish tales often use the B plot to get readers engaged. Or proactivity, especially with something that just won't quit getting in the way.

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[Brandon] All right. Let's go ahead and do a writing prompt. Mary, you have a writing prompt for us.
[Mary] Yeah. So I've been doing this thing where I write a story in 15 minutes for charity. I start it based on three things. An object, a character, and a genre. So. Listener. Look to your left. That is your object.
[Mary] Look at the bookshelf. The first book you see, that is your genre. And your character is your best friend. Now write a story for 15 minutes.
[Brandon] This has been Writing Excuses. You're out of excuses, now go write.