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    Copyright © 2009-2017
    Joan Y. Edwards and her licensors.

    Active since 0ctober 9, 2009. Thank you for reading and leaving comments on my blog.

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Make Character Pay an Arm, a Leg, and His First Child!

Pay image Copyright © 2013 Joan Y. Edwards

Pay image Copyright © 2013 Joan Y. Edwards

“Make Character Pay an Arm, a Leg, and His First Child!” by Joan Y. Edwards

What is the cost of what your main character’s wants or needs? Make your main character pay an arm, a leg, and his first child for his goal. It has to cost him enough to make him do everything in his power to keep from paying the price. You have to make him squirm.

Picture Book

The witch twitched her head around and poked the polka-dotted princess on the forehead, “Princess, princess, so forlorn.

Give to me your true first-born child.”

Adult Fiction:

“How am I going to get to California from Charlotte? Are you kidding? Even a tank of gasoline costs an arm, a leg, and your first child.” John looked at his overalls with paint stains from his last paying job and hung his head low.

If there’s no cost, there’s no story.

Tell me your favorite stories, what the main character wanted and what it cost him?

When you’re writing a story, usually you give the main character 3 tries to get something or you give him three steps or levels to get there. In your mind, since we are all money-collectors, have the first try cost at least $50.00. The second, $100.00. And the third, $300.00.

So you don’t think in money, then it might cost him: embarrassment, betrayal, or abandonment. You say, these things wouldn’t hurt your character because he’s as tough as concrete highways or giant boulders. List 3 things he would wince at and hate, but would still be willing to do them to gain the reward, to win the battle, to get the job, etc.

If your character really wants or needs something, he will do whatever it costs. What obstacles will make your character scared? Tense? Angry? Your character will do anything to get his goal. He will put himself in danger of death to get it. In some cases, he will give up an arm, a leg, or a first-born child to get it.

Up the cost of what your character wants. If he’s willing to pay $500.00, make it cost him double. If he’s totally sure of himself and brags a lot, triple the cost. Make him jump through hoops he’s never even heard of before you created them for him.

Thank you for reading my blog. Please leave a note. You are the happy ending to my story each day.

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Author of picture book, Flip Flap Floodle. Hear Flip’s Song. Flip helps children and adults to Never Give Up!
Author of “Joan’s Elder Care Guide” release 2015 by 4RV Publishing

Joan’s Website: http://www.joanyedwards.com (Gospel-related devotionals, puzzles, and skits)

May you realize how great a gift to the world you are!
Accept yourself as you are.

Celebrate you every day.
Never Give Up
Joan Y. Edwards

Copyright © 2013 Joan Y. Edwards


10 Responses

  1. Great post! We all relate to $$$$ and will remember the $50 to $100 to $300 analogy.


  2. Dear Sandra,
    Thanks for writing. I’m glad that relating the analogy to money helped you relate to upping the antes for your main character.

    Celebrate you and your love of learning,
    Never Give Up
    Joan Y. Edwards


  3. Good post, Joan. My super-cowboy, Jake, just wants to feed and saddle his horse, Buster, so he can help his pa round up cattle. But Mr. North Wind wants to play and gets angry when Jake says he can’t. For every trick Ol’ Northy throws at him, Jake has to come up with a solution. After Mr. North Wind freezes Buster’s shoes to the ground and buries our hero and his horse under a pile of snow, Jake heats up his breath and blows his foe to the sun. And having told you this, I realize what I need to do to ratchet up the tension. Thanks, Joan. Sarah


    • Dear Sarah,
      Thanks for writing. I love cowboys. I can’t wait to hear the story about Super-Cowboy Jake. I’m glad you’ve figured out what to do to ratchet up the tension for your character. Awesome.

      Celebrate you and your love of writing.
      Never Give Up
      Joan Y. Edwards


  4. This is great… I am printing this out and using it as a blueprint. Joan, you always inspire me to write. Thank you for sharing this.


    • Dear Karen,
      Thanks for writing. I’m glad this article was a source of inspiration to put down those golden words from inside you. Hip Hip Hooray! I’d love to read what you write. Hope your father is doing great!

      Celebrate you and your love of family
      Never Give Up
      Joan Y. Edwards


  5. Joan, this is good. Brings the concept into a different view. Sometimes that’s all it takes to help us understand how to go about something. You always have good advice. Thanks.


    • Dear Louise,
      Thanks for writing. I’m glad it helped you see the character’s obstacles and what he’s willing to do to get what he wants. I appreciate your confidence in me.

      Celebrate you and your love and compassion for people,
      Never Give Up
      Joan Y. Edwards


  6. Joan,
    I like this very much. It is a good way to remember to keep uping the cost for a character who wants something. I especially liked the comment about increasing the cost by three times for a character who brags.


    • Dear Linda,
      Thanks for writing. I’m glad you liked the idea of increasing the cost by three times for a character who brags. Sometimes we don’t like to hurt our characters. However, we have the ability to write their way through the danger! Celebrate you compassion and organization skills.

      Never Give Up
      Joan Y. Edwards


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