This is the continued saga of my foray into Janice Hardy’s Revise Your Novel in 31 Days at-home workshop (blog.janicehardy.com).
Today’s focus is on fixing any low stakes so what my characters do actually matters to them and the readers. If needed, I can add or raise the stakes by adding consequences, making the existing consequences more dire, or making the stakes more clear.
At this point, I realize I need something more solid to look at than my outline, so I set up a spreadsheet showing each chapter, its conflicts, tension, stakes, etc. I will address this at more length at the end of the 31 days.
I am able to name the stakes for most of my chapters, except for Chapter 30, which I have already earmarked for possible deletion. My chapter 32, however, has conflict and tension, but no stakes. Another note in my things-to-do list.
Results: It took some time for me to make my spreadsheet, but for me it was well worth it since I do better with an overall visual. Although my editing notes are growing, I am pleasantly surprised to find that they are not an infinite number of pages. At least not yet. 🙂
When you are writing your book, it helps to keep a question of stakes in the back of your mind. Though your first draft should be free-flowing and unhindered, knowing stakes are essential may lead your muse to incorporate them into your flow naturally. Don’t stress, however, as you can always go back at this point in the editing process and add or strengthen them as needed.