Keeping the Stakes Personal

In fantasy, and science fiction to a lesser extent the stakes tend to be ridiculously high. The quest must succeed or THE UNIVERSE WILL END or ALL HUMANITY WILL LOSE FREE WILL.  While I appreciate that as a reader, it doesn’t work for me as a writer because I embed my stories in a world similar to the one we live in.

And here’s the thing about the world I live in:

The doomsday scenarios are real and multiplying. Climate change. Species extinction — I could go on but I won’t. Imagine reading about a heroine who is fighting climate change. It’s tough, it’s exciting, but in the end she succeeds! Yay! Climate change is reversed. You close the book and glance outside to see your half empty rainwater tank and smell the fumes of your neighbour revving his car.

It makes the story seem empty and fake.

That’s why, while I write about the very real problems that we all face, they are not doomsday events that needs to be vanquished. I prefer to keep the stakes personal and intimate, the kind of thing anyone might believably face and care about. Protecting your little brother. Finding a missing person. Or looking for a lost dog.

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