Wit 'n Wisdom of Janice LaQuiere

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

WTBN - Chapter 3 - Raising the Stakes

As I'm reviewing this book I'm applying it to my current mss., which are what some of the comments are referring to under my personal notes.

Chapter 3 - Stakes -

Chapter Checklist (Summary)

1. High stakes yield high success
2. Stakes say what could be lost.
3. To test stakes ask, "So what?"
4. Making public stakes real means starting with a grain of truth.
5. Breakout novels combine high public stakes with high personal stakes
6. Deep personal stakes dig down so far they show us who we are.
7. Public stakes change with the times.
8. To raise personal stakes ask, How can this matter more?"
9. To raise overall stakes ask, "How could things get worse?"
10. Keep danger immediate. Make your characters suffer.
11. High stakes come from your own stakes in writing your story.

My personal notes:

Can you define your stakes?" (Collapse of her marriage, loss of her children, imprisonment, prostitution. Sometimes the greatest stakes is the compromise of a code of honor or ideal.)

Are the stakes in the manuscript as high as possible?

Can you cite the page numbers where protagonist is locked into her course of action with less hope of success?

There are public stakes and private stakes:

Public Stakes (i.e. the destruction of humanity):

Plausibility begins with a grain of truth in the premise, and then detailing.

Public stakes must become personal. A story is about a person.

For a reader to identify with a setting, it must be specific.

Public stakes change with the times...loss of freedom from war...from laws. Destruction from enemies...from lack of morality. Dissolution of the family from disease...lack of ideals.

Private Stakes:

In order for the private stakes to matter to the reader, the reader must care about the character. (Show Trish planning to surprise Stan.)

What does protagonist need? (Trish needs to feel loved.)

What is her goal? (She wants a happy ever after marriage.)

What does she yearn for? (Understanding for her husband)

What must she avoid? (Depression)

What freezes her into a state of paralysis? (Clausterphobia - lack of trust in God.)

"Every protagonist needs a torturous need - (Trish needs to feel worthy)
consuming fear- (She'll be abandoned my Stan, like her mother abadoned her, and ultimately God)
aching regret - (She didn't stand up for her right to be loved)
visible dream - (A close knit family, farmhouse and white picket fence)
passionate longing - (To homeschool
inescapable ambition - (Prove to Stan she's worthy...to be "smart" as an entreprenure and a woman
an exquisite lust -
and inner lack -
a fatal weakness - (Her kids.)
an unavoidable obligation - (Her kids)
and iron instinct-
an irresistible plan -
a noble ideal -
an undying hope -
Something to propel her beyond the boundaries that confine us."

Don't make the basic danger deeper, but add layers to the stakes, compound the misery. Determine what would be the worse moment for the problem to get worse.

"How can the stakes become not just a possible loss but one that has palpable, dread-producing immediacy?" (When the food is delivered and the guy wants to rape her.)

Misc. Q.
What conflicting interests are presented in the history of the characters' stories?

What ethical dilemmas are likely to arise in protagonists' profession?


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