While flipping through these books I use to help me think of these prompts, I landed on something about death, and I was reminded of the James Scott Bell Great Course. (I’m about halfway through it. It’s pretty good.)
In one episode, he talks about death stakes. He says readers probably won’t care enough about the outcome of a given story unless death of some kind is at stake. He says that usually means the main character’s professional, emotional, or physical death, but I think you could probably add some others, like reputational death, psychological death or insanity, and fate worse than death, which could be very character-dependent/character-specific.
Anyway . . . do you know your character’s death stakes? Perhaps you’ve built in an escalation of more than one kind of death stakes. (Good for you if you have.)
Either way, take a moment to clarify your story’s death stakes.
Now, think of the scene (or scenes, if you’ve included more than one kind) where your main character first realizes those stakes are in play.
I’m giving myself oh-sh*t tingles just thinking about mine . . . that’s a good sign! Are you feeling something too? We want the reader to feel what you’re feeling–what you and your character are feeling about these death stakes. We want the reader to know that these stakes matter.
This might be a good time to incorporate some of the previous prompts as pre-writes. I’m thinking this one. And maybe this one.
Got it all? Take your time. This one’s important to the success of your story. When you’re ready . . .
Write the scene.
Book and Course that Inspired this Prompt
The book cover links above are Affiliate Links, which means I get a commission if you decide to make a purchase through these links, at no cost to you. In other words, if you’re thinking of buying a copy of one of these books for your home craft library anyway, buying said copy through this link is a no-brainer way to help support this site. And I appreciate it. Thank you!
FYI: The links above are to Amazon, but if your library or university is a Kanopy participant, you can stream the James Scott Bell course (and others) for free. That’s how I’m watching it.
That’s it for me!
If you found this post helpful, please . . .
1. Like it and share it! There are share buttons below . . .
2. Subscribe to the Blog to receive the Tools in your inbox as soon as they post:
3. Subscribe to the Newsletter. It’s a monthly-to-quarterly-ish (that’s still vastly overstating it) newsletter to share news and free worksheets and whatnot. Your welcome email will include the 19-page Character Development Workbook. You can subscribe here.
4. And if you found it particularly helpful . . .
Also, people have been hiring me to review their loglines with the kind of analysis seen here and here, and I’m enjoying it. So, if you think your logline (or something else!) might benefit from a looksie and want to hire me to review it, email me at writeswithtools @ gmail dot com.