I have recently begun rereading some of the old “Choose Your Own Adventure” books that dominated my childhood. For the young people here, Choose Your Own Adventure (or CYOA) books were a young adult series from Bantam Books in the 70s and 80s that inserted the reader as a character in the story and allowed you to make choices that influenced how the novel turned out.
If it sounds fun, it absolutely was. I have fond memories of the CYOA books. Continue reading “Choose Your Own Adventure”
Most of the gatekeepers into entertainment and publishing can shut down every pitch with a single question: “Why should I care?”
You have a suave superspy who can keep his head in any situation put through the paces and escape death numerous times. That’s nice. Why should we follow him for 300 pages?
If he fails in his mission, capitalism in the West will be destroyed and the landscape of world finance turned on its end (GoldenEye). Or maybe humanity will be wiped off the planet by a sinister bioengineered plague (Moonraker). Or the United States will lose the space race to the Soviet Union (Dr. No).
None of those stakes are memorable, though. If I hadn’t included the name of the movie, would you have been able to figure out which Bond film I was talking about? Probably not. As big a 007 fan as I am, I couldn’t actually explain what was at stake in either The Living Daylights or Octopussy, films I’ve seen a half-dozen or more times each.
So how do we as writers make the stakes truly memorable? I can answer that by looking at two video games in the Final Fantasy series. Continue reading “Making the Stakes Personal”