Personal stakes for the character

As I wasn’t feeling so good the past few days, I’ve spent a lot of my time reading books, stories and some of my older stuff with one question haunting on the back of the mind: When does it become personal for the character?

Oh, how I miss the times, when I just wrote and didn’t concerne my little head with questions like that! Actually, I must admit, the writing process is far more interesting now, when only half of it is based on magic tricks performed on the stage.

However, it also means half of the time there is something that starts nagging you about your writing and then you go raging through the books and movies and try to pinpoint down that weakness in your writing.

I think I found one. Lately there is one thing that keeps shining through my latest attempts on writing and that is that the main characters have not got proper strong personal stakes on the line. It’s something I’m determined to figure out, but the question now is – what exactly it is and how do you define something like that?

It’s easy to say – just decide what matters to your character the most. It’s even defined in the English dictionary – “if something is important to you, you deal with it personally rather than giving it to somebody else to deal with”.

So I’m listing here the general questions on what are “suppose” to help you, when you get stuck (which, however, do not always work for me, because – really? Have you sat a day away trying to figure it out and you just don’t get it?):

  • If the protagonist walked away, what would change?
  • What would your protagonist lose if they’d walk away?
  • What would happen if they lost?
  • Write down the problem – now write down how to make it more dramatic… etc

Actually, the internet is full of advice that’s suppose to help. I guess I just need to pinpoint to myself what it actually looks like in nature before I rush of to shoot it.


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