Thursday, February 23, 2012

Thursday Plays the Price is Right with Her Characters

*Is that show even still on?*
“Seems like everybody's got a price,
I wonder how they sleep at night.
When the sale comes first,
And the truth comes second,”
-“Price Tag” by Jessie J.
As writers, we all know the essentials to give a character: goals, motivations, conflict, morals, etc. We all have things we want, but don’t’ we all have price that would compromise what we want? I think we all have a price. If the price is right, I think everyone would cave.
I see this a lot in friends/ trusted allies. The friend/ ally is offered _____ in return for _____. This happens a lot right before the climax. This leads to a sense of betrayal for the MC. The betrayal leads the MC to feeling all is lost and blah blah blah.
But what if it was our MC who had to choose between ____ and _____.
For example, your ethical MC is trying arrest a villain who committed many petty robberies around the area leading to many families losing all of their money. Your MC herself is hurting for money due to their sister’s pilling medical bills (but they love their family unconditionally so money is a small price to pay for their sister’s health), but the money is running out. Also your MC secretly wishes to be rich and not have to worry about when their next meal will come from since they can barely afford their sister’s medical bills.
What if the villain offers your MC money to not arrest him? Would your MC still arrest him?
What if the villain promises to grant your MC new social standing and economic prosperity? Would your MC still arrest him?
What if the villain threatens to have your MC’s loved ones killed if you arrest him (he has powerful friends who can hold a grudge)? Would your MC still arrest him?
Even though arresting the villain is ethically correct, what will it take for your MC to finally break and not arrest them? Imagine the conflict you can create for your MC.
The key to selling the Price is Right Method is your MC’s thought process. You have to show your MC’s inner struggle. Your MC is fighting between her morals and things she wants/ needs. Some characters will stick with their morals. Others will fall victim to their desires. As the writer, you must make the reader content with either decision (or at least understand why they choose what they did). I think “The Price is Right” method shows a lot about characters. Everyone has a price whether your price is money, loyalty, power, protection, etc. The need for money can show greed. The need for loyalty can stem from a repressed childhood where no one cared enough for your MC. The need for power can show a need to be in control (maybe they felt helpless during their childhood). The need for protection can show how weak the character feels or unsafe they feel the world is (maybe you have a super paranoid character). Your MC’s price can show their struggles from the past, present and even the future. Also if the Price is Right is introduced early, this can lead to foreshadowing and character development (your MC who desires protection can end up in a situation where they are defenseless and must figure a way to be victorious without their protection).
What will it take for your MC to break and give in? Did you come up with new ways to add conflict/ foreshadowing/ character development in your stories using the Price is Right Method?