Over the past two years I’ve read quite a few young adult books and I just finished the last one in the Shadow Falls series by C.C. Hunter. No, I’m nowhere near being a “young” adult. Yes, I was sometimes embarrassed to admit what I was reading and yes, I thoroughly enjoyed reading them! I’m calling it “research” since right now I think my WIP might fall into this genre.
And I think I can actually get away with calling it research, because aside from loving this series, in particular, with its supernatural species, their awesome powers, the classic love triangle and teenage girls with attitudes, I actually learned something!
Raising the Stakes
The Shadow Falls series helped me understand what it means to raise the stakes in a story, where things get increasingly worse for your character(s) before they can get better.
From the beginning of the first book, things started going wrong for the main character (MC), Kylie Galen, when she found out her parents were getting divorced and her world was being turned upside-down. Oh, she had no clue how her world would crumble! From not fitting in with her high school peers, to discovering she was some sort of supernatural, to finding out she didn’t quite fit in with her supernatural peers either, dealing with two love interests, learning about her new powers and ultimately having to face the classic evil antagonist — things continually got worse for her. There were times as I read the last book where I thought to myself,
Come on, can’t she catch a break?
She couldn’t! Each turn of the page brought more obstacles and complications for the MC. I began to see how the author incrementally raised the stakes chapter after chapter, until at last the pieces came together for the MC and she was able to take action to make things better.
So now what?
Now I realize that my WIP and my MC don’t have enough at stake. I’ve been thinking about what else can go wrong and have jotted down some ideas in my journal. I need to raise the stakes, in hopes that readers will become emotionally connected to the MC, root for her, want her to take the steps she needs to in order to grow, succeed, and make things better.
I’m beginning to understand why it takes so long to write a novel. Last year when I started this, I was so naive (Ha ha ha – that’s me laughing at myself). The good news is that I’ve learned a lot about this process and I’m trying to incorporate what I’m learning. The not-so-good news is that I still have a lot to learn.
Back to work on my WIP for me!