“We’re all going to die!” and other ways to raise the stakes in your novel

In my last post I covered some ideas for creating a breakout premise based on the writers guidebook, Writing the Breakout Novel, by Donald Maass. Raising the stakes is the next step in developing your breakout novel. According to the author the simple but wickedly revealing “so what?” test will help you do just that. If the writer (you) looks at the conflict about to be unleashed on the universe and you don’t care so deeply that you can barely hold your fingers back from the keyboard, the reader is not going to be with you either. It’s time to crank up the conflict.

According to Donald Maass, author and literary agent, there are three places you can go to deepen the chasm of doom separating your hero from their destiny and have your readers holding their breath while they make the leap. First is to create some human worth. Making your character a good guy or girl is not necessarily the way. Complex flawed characters ring true and the better we know them, despite their ugly side, the more we care. You can make them callous, crude, ugly, and greedy, but give them a code, that one thing they will not do and then test them sorely to break their code. Push them to the brink and beyond. Torture and tempt them to turn their back on that one remaining ideal that they still hold dear. Then, you will have the world cheering them on. When everyone is pulling for them to make it, then it’s time…to make them fall.


About Gary Baker

Writer specializing in Mystery, Travel, and Humor. I should write something funny about traveling to a mysterious Island.
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One Response to “We’re all going to die!” and other ways to raise the stakes in your novel

  1. Good tip. Thanks for sharing. I think I will try to write a story around this concept.

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