Tuesday, September 5, 2017

A continuation of Raising the Stakes

Make Mine Mystery
September 5

                                                                       Mata Hari

By Linda Lee Kane
A continuation of last month’s article 'Raising the Stakes'
 Roles and Settings
Provide the character with more than one role and make life difficult for the protagonist (and sometimes the antagonist). The higher the stakes, the more a character will risk to reach her goal. No one is one dimensional.

I recently wrote an article about Mata Hari, the exotic dancer who was convicted as a spy in World War I. What an exceptional woman who lived a life that today we would consider pretty normal but in that time period she was considered a free-spirited bohemian. Questions I asked after reading about her was why did she have to give up her child and become an exotic dancer? Was it really society and her unconventional life style that convicted her? Did she really give up important secrets that led to the deaths of 50,000 men? 

At her conviction she exclaimed,  "A courtesan, I admit it. A spy, never!" Forty-five minutes later she was brought before a firing squad, she blew them all a kiss of farewell, than they fired.

Don’t cheat the reader by failing to use every ounce of emotion and action to build higher stakes. 

In life, things are never quite what they seem, Mata Hari played more than one role in life, as do we all. Life was difficult for her, and what greater stakes than life or death.
Tension and suspense explode when a setting is unfamiliar and hostile, and it forces the character to grow. How does a writer accomplish an antagonistic setting? Begin by concentrating on a few traits of a villain: determined, powerful, an outward appearance of beauty or charm, and the ability to deceive. The adversity of setting can be obvious or hidden, but include it in ways that force the character to make tough decisions and then accept responsibility for those actions.   
Raising the Stakes is not an engine additive to a story. It’s a process that begins long before the first line is written. It’s a mindset that influences every technique of novel writing and coincides with character traits. Look at your story. Where can you Raise the Stakes?

Linda L. Kane MA in Education, PPS, School Psychologist, and Learning Disability Specialist, is the author of The Black Madonna, Witch Number is Which, Icelandia, Katterina Ballerina, Cowboy Jack and Buddy Save Santa, and Chilled to the Bones. A 2017 release date for Clyde to the Rescue, and Death on the Vine, A Daisy Murphy Mysteries. 


Linda Thorne said...

Good post. I'm not sure I every heard of Mata Hari, but I've been around so long I may have. It was an interesting story. A notorious woman much earlier than other notorious one. I read your book, The Black Madonna, and would definitely recommend it.

Linda Kane said...

thank you Linda. She was considered a spy WWI. I've heard of her for years and believed what I had heard-interesting when more facts come out.