Does your character have something to lose?

I recently watched Iron Man 3. I was all lined up with my popcorn for the usual show of heroism, excitement and a large helping of Tony Stark's ego. I wasn't disappointed but this time round, things were a little different. I take it back. Things were entirely different. Where Tony Stark had always appeared invincible before, this film showed a new vulnerability and for once he was defeated. Of course, he turned it  round, beat the bad guy and rescued those who needed to be rescued. All was well in the end.

When I thought about it later, what struck me about the difference between this film and the past ones was that this time Tony Stark truly believed he had something to lose, something that mattered more to him than his own life. It also cast him in a new light, less bravado, more kindness. The possibility of loss made him into a better person.

I decided to put my own lead character to the test. Did he have something to lose if he didn't rectify the situation he found himself in? Firstly, he had his old life to lose. He thought that mattered to him. Secondly, he had his new friends to lose, their respect and possibly their lives. It surprised him how much that mattered to him. This new concern, this new possible loss, laid him bare. It made him vulnerable but it also pushed him on to try. Having something to lose turned him into a hero.

What about your characters? Do they have something to lose and are they better for it?


  1. I think characters have to have something to lose. Otherwise, where is the conflict?


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