I’m spending the day bashing my head against a bulletin board and moving little pieces of paper around to make my outline work. Every time I get stuck I read a book about it. And drink more tea… mmmm… tea.
Today I discovered that the big goal of my protagonist has to matter to him so much that it’s impossible for him to walk away at any part in the story. This is the glue that makes all the little story pieces stick together. In other words, if my Hero, Tavin Thornbush, fails or abandons his quest at any point in the story it will mean tragic death… emotionally. And the world will come to a violent bloody end… but the real secret to tense story-telling (or so I’ve read in ‘Plot and Structure’ by James Bell) is to make it personal.
In my story, Tavin is trying to save the world, yes, but he’s also trying to prove that he’s a hero like his grandfather and not a coward like his father who abandoned him when he was a child. Tavin’s determination to do better than his father did is the thing that drives him the entire story, swinging him between triumphant highs (as he defeats monsters) and crushing lows (he looses control of his power and nearly kills his friends)..
Okay, break over. Back to the board.