2 Day to NaNoWriMo: Raising Public Stakes

One day to go. I haven’t decided yet if I’m going to stay up to start at midnight. I’d like to, but I’m not sure the dogs would be so forgiving in the morning when they’re hungry for breakfast.

Raising Public Stakes

1. As briefly as possible, write down your novel’s overt and outward central conflict or problem.
A series of assassination attempts are carried out against the Royal Family, specifically targeting the King.

2. What would make this problem worse?

  • Member of the Royal Family is injured in the attacks
  • A member of the Royal Family is taken hostage
  • An assassin is loose in the palace
  • The upcoming Royal Wedding necessitates an openness that will give the assassin access to the Royal Family

3. When you have run out of ideas, ask yourself, “What would make this problem even worse than that?”

  • The assassin sabotages the Royal Guard’s attempt at solving the case
  • The Prince is poisoned
  • The Prince’s fiance appears to be involved
  • The capital city floods and the Royal Guard is put on disaster relief
  • Dani is alienated from Ian and loses her liaison to the King’s Guard and the Royal Guard
  • Dani breaks her ribs
  • Ian is shot, leaving the King’s Guard with only one active member plus the King’s Shadow
  • The assassin is a member of the Royal Guard
  • The assassin incapacitates Ace

4. When you have run out of steam, ask, “What are the circumstances under which my protagonist(s) would actually fail to solve the problem?”

  • Dani is unable to diffuse the situation because she’s tied up with the assassin
  • Dani follows the wrong lead and is elsewhere when the attack occurs
  • The assassin incapacitates Dani
  • Ace takes Dani off the case
  • Dani fails to discover who in the Royal Guard is working with the assassin
  • Dani fails to realize that the Prince is being poisoned, not just sick
  • Dani is injured while helping with the city disaster relief

The hardest part of this exercise was thinking about how things can always get worse. I’m not a huge fan of my stories not having a happy ending, but that’s not what makes a page turner. The protagonist must face roadblocks in every chapter. It needs to seem like she’ll never overcome everything in time to complete her mission. And I can’t be afraid of her failing. I have to make that a very real possibility. Once I get over old habits, I think this could get fun.

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