“High stakes” is one of those phrases that gets flung at writers a lot.
We know our stories are supposed to have them. “Life and death” is the go-to metric for the kind of stakes that seem the highest. But how do we lift our stakes to this level if we’re not writing the kind of story in which murder or fatal disease figure anywhere in the plot?
Must we always strive for life and death stakes, even when it feels forced?
And, conversely, are there stakes we can aim for that rise even higher than life and death?
High stakes are how we keep our hero actively striving against obstacles, and how we keep our readers turning pages, too.
How do the stakes in our storytelling measure up? And how can we turn up the heat, if needed? That's the topic of today’s talk.