Stress Out Your Characters and Create a Compelling Story

Creating stress for your characters is a key element in writing a captivating story. It adds depth to their personalities, increases tension, and keeps the reader engaged. Here are 15 proven ways to stress out your characters and create a compelling, unforgettable story.

  1. Put them in danger: Physical danger is a great way to get readers invested. Give your characters something to fight for, and let them struggle to survive.
  2. Make them face their fears: Whether it is a fear of heights, spiders, or public speaking, forcing your characters to confront their phobias is a masterful way to add stress to your story.
  3. Give them an impossible deadline: Time pressure can increase stress, motivation, and focus in your characters. It’s an excellent way to raise the stakes.
  4. Separate them from their support system: Separating your characters from their friends, family, or teammates can leave them feeling abandoned and alone.
  5. Make them doubt themselves: Introducing self-doubt is a subtle way of increasing tension. Every character has a breaking point – see how much they can take before they crack.
  6. Introduce a twist: Shock your characters and readers with an unexpected turn of events. It will force your characters to get out of their comfort zones and react.
  7. Present them with a moral dilemma: A moral dilemma requires a tough choice, and both options have consequences. It can be an excellent way to add a layer of complexity to your story.
  8. Create a powerful antagonist: A powerful antagonist can add depth to your story. The greater the challenge that your antagonist poses, the more your characters will have to struggle.
  9. Challenge their beliefs: Make your characters confront their beliefs, morals, or values, and watch them struggle to reconcile their ideals with the reality they find themselves in.
  10. Present them with an impossible task: From saving the world to mending a broken relationship, an impossible task can make for an engaging and compelling storyline.
  11. Show them the consequences: Help your characters understand the consequences of their actions, whether positive or negative, and let them cope with the aftermath.
  12. Create a ticking time bomb: A deadline is stressful, but a ticking time-bomb raises the stakes even higher. It will force your characters to act quickly and decisively.
  13. Deny them what they want: Nothing is more frustrating than watching your characters repeatedly fail to achieve their goals.

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