Upping the Stakes

You can always make your main character's goal more desperate by "upping the stakes." Still using the above example if the character who needs a job is a lawyer or a doctor she probably won't have a difficult time finding one. But what if she is an unskilled worker? Chances are she would have to struggle to find work, since she has no marketable skills. This situation would certainly be more dramatic than if she were a highly qualified worker. Her lack of skills would cause her to have less chance to get a job.

We could up the stakes even more for this woman, especially if we make her not only an unskilled worker, but also a single mother with three children. If her children are hungry and she can't find work anywhere she is even more desperate. As the audience we are more involved in her plight. We care about her welfare and that of her children. Will she ever find a job? Will her children get sick from being hungry? Will she and her children become evicted from their apartment and end up homeless? What will she do in response to these pressures? Will she have to go on welfare? Will she shoplift to buy food for her children? Will they all become homeless?

These are called upping the stakes. By adding more and more pressure upon your character you increase the conflict. This kind of desperation makes your script fast-moving and exciting. Keep mak ing the stakes higher and higher in order to increase the stress on your characters in your screenplay.

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