Saturday, May 13, 2023

The Weekend Writer: A Case Study In Raising Stakes With "Queen Charlotte"

Over and over again in my writing years I have read and heard that writers should raise the stakes for their characters. Protagonists must have something at risk to make readers care.

I will admit that my response to this has been, "Yeah, yeah, yeah. If you have a story, you have a story. Raising the stakes is just manipulation or filler."

Recently, though, I saw Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story and realized what a difference a protagonist with something significant to lose can make to a story.

The Bridgerton Series

The first two seasons of Bridgerton on Netflix are the arguably drawn-out love stories of attractive, wealthy characters in Regency England. 

The stakes: How soon will this good-looking, rich guy get together with this good-looking, rich woman and how soon will they take their clothes off?

These are entertaining shows, if you like historical romance or at least the historical period involved. Or if you like looking at beautiful clothes.

The Queen Charlotte Difference

Queen Charlotte is centered on a secondary character from the Bridgerton universe, one inspired by a historical figure, Charlotte, the wife of King George III. The story here begins at the point where the other two Bridgerton series end. Charlotte and George get together and marry, though don't take their clothes off, in the first episode.

The stakes:  1. How will Charlottee deal with George's mental health problems, which could affect the monarchy/government? Will the two of them make it possible for him to reign? 2. Will Charlotte be able to establish herself in a position of power as queen, thus ensuring that the people who look like her, their side (as the situation is often referred to), will be able to hold their new positions in the aristocracy and hand those positions down to their children. 

We're talking a cultural shift for a society versus a romance for one couple.

Queen Charlotte is far more involving than the first two Bridgertons, and that may be due to how much higher the stakes are for the main character.

No comments: