“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.
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.”
“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.
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Never Give Up
Joan Y. Edwards
Copyright © 2013 Joan Y. Edwards