HOW TO TAKE RISKS
Writing is the realm to take risks, and by that I don’t mean being risqué. Risk taking is what will separate the writers from the authors, the hobbyists from the novelists.
But what does risk taking look like on paper? I mean, the bounds of writing are endless, so how do you know if you are really taking a risk?
The first step in taking a risk is understanding when there’s a risk to be taken. Trust me, that’s not just jargon to sound profound. It’s a true statement. In real life, if I jump down one step, there’s not much risk in that. But if I jump down a flight of stairs, the risk just went up. If I jump off a bridge, the risk just sky-rocketed!
There are levels to the risks that can be taken, so understanding the boundaries of danger will help to amplify the risk. Let’s take this to writing.
She couldn’t believe what she was seeing. He had taken her last piece of bread, and he didn’t even seem sorry about it.
Okay. There’s no risk in that. The girl loses nothing. She can just get another slice of bread from the pantry. Problem solved.
Let’s up the ante. Say that she was stranded from a plane crash, and all she’d brought with her on the plane were a few pieces of bread to tide her over until she landed. She looks over, and there’s this guy chomping on the bread from her bag as she awakens from her sleep.
Now that increases the stakes, but it’s not risk-taking. Let’s add the risk. How does she respond? Imagine that this girl is a slender brunette, soft-spoken with a weak smile and an even fainter heart.
The typical decision with her is to let her sulk in silence. This would be her jumping down one step. It’s not a bad decision, but it’s what we’d expect of her. She could jump down a flight of stairs by going over to confront the man. Jumping off a bridge would be to have her attack the man.
It’s risky because it threatens that you might lose your reader’s perception of the girl. But if it is written well enough….
We continue tomorrow.