Since last we updated (May 22), I've written 17425 words - most of which were pretty good if I do say so myself. My heroine is in a deep mess, a killer is running around offing innocents, and her former lover is driving her nuts. The dog holds the key, but he ain't talking*. Or maybe the old lady's the one with the answers. In either case, Jo is up to her ass in alligators and the water's rising. Which is always good.
And a good segue into the post I planned last night for this morning...
Recently I read Changes by Jim Butcher. Right now I'm reading Academ's Fury by the same guy. Two different series in two different genres with one major commonality - throughout the story, Mr. Butcher keeps upping the stakes. You all know how I hate spoilers, but in order to talk about this, I'm going to have to release a few... so if you're planning on reading either of those books, stop reading this post now.
In Changes, Mr. Butcher has put Harry in a precarious position and it seems like every chapter, the heat gets turned up on poor Harry. Just when you think there's nothing else that could go wrong, another thing goes wrong. In one chapter, someone tries to kill Harry then his house catches fire, his cat runs away and he breaks his back... And you think that's enough, but then... BAM, in order to fix his crushed spine, he agrees to give up his...
Sorry, I just can't give that spoiler away. The point here is that the story just keeps getting more and more intense. (Sometimes too much so, IMO, but I can't deny the idea is brilliant.)
I know Butcher will make everything right - maybe not for everybody, but by the end, most everything will work out for all the major characters. And maybe that's what pissed me off about Changes. He didn't make everything right again before the end of the book. But that's neither here nor there. I was on the edge of my seat, rapidly flipping pages, throughout the whole book and I'm about at that point in AF (which started out a little slow, but is quickly catching up).
In the words of Mickey Spillane "The first chapter sells the book. The last chapter sells the next book." I'd go one further and say that upping the stakes gets the reader through the middle chapters to the last chapter and all of that tension sells the next book - especially if you're writing a series. This is what I'm trying to achieve with my own WIP. I want this to be written in such a way that the reader can't help but buy the next book and the next... ad infinitum, or until my hands drop off.
Now it's your turn. How do you feel about books that up the stakes? Do you have any other examples I can hunt down and devour in my quest? Any books that upped the stakes so high you wanted to throw the damn thing against a wall?
*sorry. that was kinda spoilerish, but no more so than a back cover blurb.