What Does Your Main Character Have To Lose?

What Does Your Main Character Have To Lose?
What Does Your Main Character Have To Lose?
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If your story has nothing big to lose, it’s not worth reading. I did say “Big.” I’m not talking about a nice pair of earrings, a car, designer dress, or even your home. I’m talking about something that matters greatly to more than your main character. It’s bigger than her, him, or it. It takes hold and drives your story to the end.

This crucial thing is bigger than a personal love spat, or even a trip to the hospital. It takes over a life, a family, a city, the community, or an entire nation. In popular women’s novels, that thing is not the community, city, or nation; it’s your character’s personal desire. Did she get the man? The career? The family she wanted? It’s all about the protagonist’s unrequited desire. It might not seem big at all, except that the heroine’s creator has infused her with such unrelenting intensity that the reader feels her desire just as strongly as murder, the city, the country, the family she wanted.

That particular element in your novel is called STAKES. It’s believed that a threat to LIFE is the highest stake. Bestseller-kind-of books have high stakes of some kind. STAKES simply means the biggest thing you have to lose&ndashthe fortune, friend, life, city, a country, a world, a dream.

If you don’t believe me, let’s explore a few bestseller-kind-of-books that have stood the test of time and see what really drives them and how it plays out.

The Godfather&ndashwhat does he have to lose? Justice in America. Godfather wanted justice so badly that he had to take getting it into his own hands. He just couldn’t afford not to have justice when his father was murdered by the mob in Italy, and his mother was shot in front of his face while she begged for her son’s life. He was never going back to that kind of injustice. He was shipped off to American, and here he faced another kind of injustice. So he turned to crime, while wanting his son to become a legal senator. The search for justice drove the story all the way through a multi-million dollar best selling book and three movies. The don lost his life but the stakes were so high that they transferred to his youngest son, Michael. He had to kill five mafia heads to become semi-laundered when he moved to Vegas.

GONE WITH THE WIND: Scarlett’s love was at stake. Many people think it was Tara, the plantation. But no, it was love. This was no ordinary love. The writer knew the normal kind of love would have fallen flat on its face “Well if you don’t love me back, forget you. I can have any man I want. See?” She said, looping her arm in one of the Tarlton boy’s arm.

No, this was an obsessive love that burned with the heat of determination and passion. It was Ashley Wilkes or nobody. This strong, bold, uncompromising love drove the story because her love was at stake. It could be lost or consummated at any moment and the reader didn’t want to miss it&ndashall the way to the end. That’s why we followed. If Ashley had given her the time of day, there’s no way I would have read 700 pages about the Civil War. But with Scarlett’s thirst for true love, her raging fire for consummation, it absorbed the culture, the complexities of war, and life on a plantation that no one wanted to see and all of the reader’s tiredness. Love was at stake and it drove that story for years and years.

THE MAYOR’S WIFE WORE SAPPHIRES&ndasha search for respect drove the story. Indigo did everything possible in this world to grab some respect for herself, her family, and her city. If she could sneak her husband into congress, she could obtain it. The story opens with her trying to make that happen. When her plan falls through, she schemes every possible means of making that predominately African-American city a Camelot&ndasha place so incredible that the residents would be trained to manufacture and market their wares, and people from all over the world would come and buy from them. Indigo had knock-off clothes tailored for all of her parties, and hung with the “right” crowd to gain that elusive respect. She fought off the International drug cartel to save the city from its ugliness and ruin. All for respect. She lost lovers and friends, but the need for respect still drove that story all the way to the White House and back.

What Does Your Main Character Have To Lose? 7.4 of 10 on the basis of 3225 Review.