4 Tips To Establishing A Threat To Your Character Hawaii Five-O Style

Photo fcl1971

Photo fcl1971

Whether you write romantic suspense, romance, speculative fiction, young adult, or another genre of fiction, establishing a credible threat to your character is essential to building the conflict in your story.

It may be a conflict as a love triangle is built, another race is threatening to anialate your own, or a villain is threatening to kill the heroine. Regardless of the type of danger you are inflicting on your character, it is important that you establish a strong threat.

The following Hawaii Five-O Clip gives us a few ideas of how this might happen:


Four Tips To Establishing A Threat To Your Character Hawaii Five-O Style:

1. Establish Believable Placement of Characters – Notice that Catherine is invited to be logically headed to a place with purpose when she is abducted. Establishing the reason for her placement at the convenient place and time for catastrophe to occur is essential.

2. Establish Credible Threat – The phone call made to Steve from his enemy establishes the threat to his girlfriend. Notice how there are time lines for the threat turning deadly to increase the sense that Catherine could die.

3. Intensify Threat – The villain intensifies the threat by showing just how evil he is when he hits Catherine. If he didn’t do this, his power seems to be less in the scene. Also, note that Steve hears this taking place, making his concern for Catherine’s safety feel even more real.

4. Show Why We Should Care- This component happens a bit earlier in this episode where Steve shows he cares for Catherine. We all want to cheer for love, so we care if something happens to her because it will hurt him as well.

Note: The first three tips build the conflict and the last one develops tension. Susan May Warren helped me understand this difference between conflict and tension. Conflict is what stands in the way of a character reaching their goals and tension is established when we show why the reader should care.

A few of my favorite movies and books for establishing a threat to the victims are:

*”Love Comes Softly” – Marty is left alone without her husband. Each of these steps are here. If you can’t remember, the fourth is showing that she is pregnant which makes the reader care.

*”Star Wars”

*”The Client”

*”Lorenzo’s Oil”

*”The Pelican Brief”

*”Vertical Limit”

What are your favorite books or movies for establishing a threat to the victim?


About Michelle Lim

Author Michelle Lim is the Brainstorming/Huddle Coach with My Book Therapy Press and the Midwest Zone Director for American Christian Fiction Writers. Michelle’s romantic suspense is represented by Karen Solem of Spencillhill Associates and has gained contest recognition in the Frasier, the Genesis, and the Phoenix Rattler, winning the Genesis in 2015 for her genre. Michelle writes devotionals for The Christian Pulse Online Magazine and Putting On The New. Since her nonfiction book release, Idea Sparking: How To Brainstorm Conflict In Your Novel, through public speaking and online chats Michelle helps writers discover the revolutionary power of brainstorming to bring new life to their stories.

8 thoughts on “4 Tips To Establishing A Threat To Your Character Hawaii Five-O Style

  1. These are great tips. I’m a biggie on credible threats and believable placement. I loved the credible threat made to Scott on the show Teen Wolf. Wolf hunters told him, “You bite an innocent, I’m coming for you.” That was in one episode and two episodes later, Scott has to make a choice, let an innocent die, or bite him in order to hang on to him while fighting an enemy with his free hands. He chose the bite.” I think credible threats in the beginning are great ways to foreshadow suspense and danger!

  2. JaniceG says:

    Husband and I are reading Friend Me, by John Faubion, on our commute to work. Early on the evil cold-blooded character kills a person Suspense builds as you read because you are aware up front of the intelligence and capabilities of the killer. You know she is not to be given opportunity to use her skills for evil again, but you realize her new line of employment will give her ample opportunities to take lives.

  3. Great tips. I only have a second, so I’ll come back with my favorite show…

  4. What a great post, Michelle. I still find that I need to build more tension in my scenes. I love how you used the Hawaii 5-0 example. I’m going to see how to implement these steps in my WIP. Great post!!

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