I’ve become a teeny-weeny bit wary of writing tips and exercises. This is not because I know it all – goodness me, no! – it’s because seductive links that promise “Just Five Steps to Writing a Brilliant Novel” can so easily become yet another excuse not to actually write.
That said, I have just spent a couple of very productive hours working through guidance on well-storied on How to Raise the Stakes in Your Story. Apart from the usual questions about character motivation, this exercise required identification of their emotional fears, flaws, and sources of regret or remorse – not only for my female protagonist but for her two male antagonists. This threw up a couple of non-sequiturs which I had missed plus several fascinating plot twists and dramatic opportunities. Best of all, I stopped seeing my secondary male lead (the one to whom my heroine accidentally gets engaged) as a selfish and manipulative cad but a man with insecurities and hidden depths of kindliness and self-awareness.
The article finishes with “three easy ways to add additional unrest” – but I’ll leave you to discover these for yourself 😉