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Burned at the Stake

Your protagonist is in big trouble. That should come as no surprise. After all, you’re the one who put him in his present predicament. No worries, you’re going to save him in the end, right? Chances are if you’re writing a series, the reader knows that too. So, you keep dropping him into dangerous situations and keep raising the stakes.


It’s because you want the reader to invest in your protagonist. The idea is to put the reader in danger right alongside your hero so when they reach The End, they have shared in the victory and have a reason to feel good. To elicit an emotional response from the reader they have to care about the character and share in his heartbreak, pain, loss, joy and success. Like the old saw, sharing is caring.

It works in writing because it works in real life. Who cares most about your book/story? The bottom line is those who have a vested interest in your book’s bottom line. Jesus once compared a good shepherd to a hireling. Both are charged with the care and safety of the sheep. The shepherd is invested in the sheep; he bought them, raised them and they are his livelihood. If something happens to them—it’s his loss. A hireling draws his pay. He’s got his reward and if the sheep die, he moves on to the next flock.

Yes, I’m still talking about writing. The literary world is full of experts who, for a fee, will help you along the way. There’s nothing wrong with getting paid for services rendered. The question becomes who is most invested in providing those services.

In the dark ages, McDonald’s being the innovator they are, developed a two-drive-up window plan. You paid for your order at the first window and received your food at the next stop. It’s still around today. I don’t recall which competitor hit on the counter ad campaign, but the crux was that McDonald’s no longer cared if they got your order right. The ad’s tagline was—they already have your money.

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