Sep 8, 2014

Re-configuring the Stakes

My 30's have not been super kind to me.

I had two bunion surgeries, severely sprained my ankle several times which resulted in reconstructing ligaments and just over a week ago, I fell while picking apples and broke my hand.

My right hand.

I am right handed.

Bone in the middle of my hand.
This last week has been a series of relearning how to do things (seriously, try brushing your teeth with the other hand).

But in the last week, I also successfully wrote the Greek family tree vineyard on the board for my students, developed a deeper love for my iPhone and iPad and touchscreen communication, accompanied a Suzuki strings group for and hour and a half (mostly left handed), and still went on with my life.

It has been good to make me think about the other things I assume. I assumed I could only type with two working hands, but my speed with just two fingers in my right available is getting better. My concentration is more honed because I have to watch so carefully what I am writing or I spend more time deleting than drafting.

But the big benefit that came from this whole thing is that it made me think about characters. I think as writers, we try to make life too easy for our characters. We forget that characters, and people for that matter, are resilient. We think that the conflict we are presenting will show their true character, but sometimes it just makes them re-configure.

I'm about a month deep into an outline which I sent to my CP's last week, and through our discussion, I realized that what I thought was a conflict is really more of an annoyance. The stakes aren't high enough, so the emotional connection isn't high enough.

A broken hand sucks, and people feel sympathetic, but after the first week or two, sympathy diminishes and people go on with their lives.

How do you raise stakes with your characters? What book have you read that had stakes at just the right level?


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Sorry you broke your hand! Glad you are adjusting though. If we really try, we can overcome most limitations.

Andrew Leon said...

I broke my wrist a few years ago, so I know exactly what you're going through.

Nicole said...

Ouch! I hope it heals quickly, and I bet you're getting lots of great ideas for when characters have to cope with injured hands!