How To Use Conflicting Values To Up The Stakes With Tips From Blue Bloods

Photo by Felix Atsoram

Photo by Felix Atsoram

Several shows have caught my television junkie attention. To join the ranks of Madam Secretary, Quantico, and many others is this week’s feature craft episode from Blue Bloods.

Let’s take a peek at Season 6, Episode 7:

A few years back I had the privilege of attending the Deep Thinkers Retreat with writing mentor Susan May Warren. (The most intense and amazing retreat I’ve ever attended.) The ideas from this craft lesson come from some of the things I learned that week.

The stakes in your novel are the things your point of view character (usually the hero/heroine) has to lose. Stakes are essential to grab your readers’ attention and keep them reading. Finding many ways to intensify the stakes will add unpredictability and tension to your novel.

How To Use Conflicting Values To Up The Stakes With Tips From Blue Bloods:

*Identify what your hero or heroine values above all else. For example: family, loyalty, money, courage, etc. In this case, Erin is the heroine whose values are pitted against one another to intensify the stakes.

*Pit two of these values against each other. In this episode of Blue Bloods, we see two of Erin’s greatest values competing against each other- family and justice. Notice also that a partner of her younger brother is accused of the crime. This brings two types of family into play- NYPD and blood relatives.

*Intensify it by adding an extra layer. Erin also values loyalty, so she feels disloyal to her family. If you watch the full episode you can find by clicking on the first Blue Bloods link in this post, you will hear Erin and her father talk about those values at the very end.

What examples can you think of in a book, on television, or in a movie that show these kinds of competing values to up the stakes?

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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.

4 thoughts on “How To Use Conflicting Values To Up The Stakes With Tips From Blue Bloods

  1. Great post, Michelle. I sometimes struggle to pit values against each other. The movie, “Up,” really does this well! When I’m struggling to think of my character’s values and how to pit them against each other, I look at how they did it in that movie. 🙂

  2. Pitting values against each other makes for a really good story! Good post.

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