The ledge theory of storytelling.
By Wayne Hills
Put your main character on a precipice so that if they fall, they’re dead.
That cliff could be real, a physical or imaginary height. The fall would maim or kill them, or in the case of an emotional or fiscal abyss, ruin their life.
Your reader will have that thought in their mind throughout the story, always knowing that at any moment, it will be over for the character.
Good or evil, the story will be carried by that momentum.