Why Does IT Matter?

Whatever IT may be, in any given scene.

As my brilliant critique group reminded me yesterday, goals and obstacles are not enough. Yes, they can give our readers a purpose to follow and perhaps a feeling that they’re dodging bullets with us as they turn pages, but…there’s one more element for real tensions.


No, not this kind.

The why-does-it-matter kind. The what-will-happen-if-she-doesn’t-get-that-goal kind. The how-much-worse-will-things-get-if-she-fails kind.

I knew this. If I looked through my book, I’d probably find I talked about it some. And still, I managed to plot through my draft without thinking too much/enough about it. Because why? Oh, because there’s just so darned much to remember with this writing thing!

It’s never boring, that’s for sure. 🙂

Don’t worry. I am not stopping the forward movement on this draft to go through and add stakes (of either kind) to every scene in my plot. I am not stopping the forward movement to go back and revise the scenes my critique group returned to me yesterday. (It was actually a very happy critique session, anyway!)

I am, though, going to take a few minutes today and put a sticky note on each of those scenes about the stakes I want to add. I’m hoping that getting a bit closer to those will help me on the current scene, which is being–to put it mildly–a pain in the posterior. I am going to open up one more slot in my brain and, as I keep writing, take a little of that extra time to look at the stakes for each scene. To figure out why Caro’s immediate goal matters and what will go wrong, get worse, turn into a complete mess, when (rather than “if”) she doesn’t get that goal.

To up the tension.

And, once again, big thanks to my critique group for bringing out the Nerf baseball bat and giving me the perfect bonk on the head.


  1. Oh yes — that pesky question of “Why?” And I find it even peskier that “Because” doesn’t sufficiently answer it.


  2. claudine says:

    There *is* so much to remember about this writing thing!
    Good job at keeping at it until you make it right!


  3. Scribbly Jane says:

    Great post Becky. I had similar feedback a couple of weeks ago and this made me take heart! I find I get one aspect of my writing right and forget about all the other layers. When will my brain become big enough?


    • beckylevine says:

      I think the size of our brains is okay–it’s just all those extra synaptic links we need to be building that get tricky!


  4. Great post, as usual, Becky! You always have timely insights to share. Thanks!


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