Stakes: What your characters can lose and what they might gain in the course of your story, both in emotional and concrete terms. This is the WHY of your story: why we should care, why the character pushes so desperately for what they yearn for, why the writer is interested in writing the story in the first place.
Maurice Carlos Ruffin is the author of The Ones Who Don’t Say They Love You, a New York Times Editor’s Choice that was also longlisted for the Story Prize. His first book, We Cast a Shadow, was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, and the PEN America Open Book Prize. Ruffin is the winner of several literary prizes, including the Iowa Review Award in fiction. A New Orleans native, Ruffin is a professor of Creative Writing at Louisiana State University, and the 2020-2021 John and Renee Grisham Writer-in-Residence at the University of Mississippi.
HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN is the USA Today bestselling author of 13 novels of suspense. She has also won multiple prestigious awards for her crime fiction, including five Agathas, five Anthonys, and the coveted Mary Higgins Clark Award. • She’s also the on-air investigative reporter for Boston’s WHDH-TV, and has won 37 EMMYs, 14 Edward R. Murrow awards and dozens of other honors for her groundbreaking journalism. National book reviews have called Hank a "master at crafting suspenseful mysteries" and "a superb and gifted storyteller." Hank’s novels have been named Best Thrillers of the Year by Library Journal, New York Post, BOOK BUB, PopSugar, Real Simple Magazine and others. Her current book is HER PERFECT LIFE was an Agatha Award nominee for Best Novel. Her upcoming thriller is THE HOUSE GUEST, coming February 2023.
(Also, it’s Hank’s birthday! Happy Birthday Hank!)