You know stories need stakes. You know you need to get your readers to care. So? You try to make the stakes big enough and scary enough to drive the story forward. But you don’t HAVE to traumatize characters — or readers — to advance your story.
From the titular panel at Balticon53, Jean Marie Ward, Eric Hardenbrook, Steven Wilson, Jamaila Brinkley, and Mattie Brahen shared their tips and tricks.
Conflict versus Trauma
We all know that stories thrive on conflict. If everyone is in agreement, marching forward, you don’t have much of a story.
So, what’s the difference? When you boil it down to their core:
- when two or more entities have opposing goals — or at least, not-aligned ones
- a change that damages you
- is harmful
Now, a caveat: There isn’t a one-size-fits-all definition of what is traumatic. Thanks to people’s pasts, their…
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