Writing Tip for Today: Maass advises writers to combine high human worth, personal and public stakes as well as the willingness to watch the character suffer as ways to raise the stakes. The X Factor:
- Involves deep and universal emotions. That's why animals and small children are able to upstage adults.
- Makes us care on a primal level, so much that we can't stop reading.
- Forms strong bonds between the reader and the character.
- Appeals to readers' sense of moral conduct or code. We love even "bad-guy" heroes like Dirty Harry, because we know these people have a strong moral code they will not abandon.
- Presents the character's personal stakes on an unavoidable collision course with the public stakes. EX: A character who is determined to find a cure for his wife's terminal disease is suddenly faced with a pandemic. These two plot points rush headlong toward each other, usually ratcheting up tension by the sense that "time is running out."
Does your novel contain the X Factor?