Home My Books About Me Contests

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Keeping a Reader's Attention: High Stakes/Low Stakes

Thanks to everyone who participated in my Weekend Writing Challenge, in which (based on plotting discussions we had during our writer's workshop) I asked everyone to submit examples of bad (i.e. low-stake) and good (i.e. high-stake) needs and wants for their characters. Defining a goal for your characters--an aim that they are trying to achieve--is critical to generating narrative interest. Check out the examples below, and you'll see what I mean. Which would you rather read--Books A or Books B??

From Rhiannon Paille:

Book A:

Johnny needs his grandma to pick up his groceries or else he'll have to leave the basement and his beloved World of Warcraft.

Book B:

Johnny needs to find the secret formula to immortality so he can kill the immortal girl that's plagued his family for centuries. Can he do it before he dies?

From Ishta Mercurio:

Book A: Suzie has to buy red food coloring, or else she won't be able to make her BFF a birthday cake with pink frosting.

Book B: Suzie has to hide her power of telekinesis from the government spy who is masquerading as her BFF's boyfriend, or else she'll be locked up forever and the world will be overrun by the evil Mr. Magnet.

And, my personal favorite...

Screams From Within:

Book A: Alerra must find her headband or her hair will be in her face all day.

Book B: Alerra must fight against the demon inside of her to save her humanity and mankind, or else she'll evolve into nothing more than a vicious killing machine and humanity will meet it's doom.

Great examples, guys!

1 comment:

Ishta Mercurio said...

Hey - you picked out my examples! This has totally made my week!

Love the other two, as well. And it's so interesting to see through doing this exercise that those original/fresh ideas can come from simply thinking about how to up the stakes another notch. I'm a writer who is plagued by "my idea is old hat"-itis, so it was good for me to see how this exercise can bring on some sideways, out-of-the-box thinking. Thanks for the prompt!

Post a Comment


Content by Lauren Oliver - Copyright 2011. Blog designed by Ella Press Studio - 2011.

Author Photo by Jonathan Alpeyrie - Copyright 2010. Original Font Idea by Erin Fitzsimmons - 2010.