1. John Calligan

    John Calligan Contributor Contributor

    Aug 8, 2015
    Likes Received:

    Lowest-Stake Stories

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by John Calligan, Dec 4, 2018.

    I'm working on a short story with incredibly low stakes. Will he ask the girl out? How will he feel? It's over 3k words.

    What are the lowest stake stories you've ever written? Any tips or tricks to keep it engaging? What are the pitfalls?

    Teach me the way.
  2. Lifeline

    Lifeline South. Staff Contributor

    Oct 12, 2015
    Likes Received:
    On the Road.
    I've written a short (4k) featuring a boy and his father on a hike when a thunderstorm moves in. Stakes? Nothing much, because despite them stuck being on the ridge it's clear from the start that they have alerted the guard and will survive in any case. The story itself revolves around an imagination-game that the father invents for the boy to pass the time, and from which the boy takes away something different than the father intended.

    From the moment the father starts the game, everything in the story points to the coming difference of opinion, though I hope not too obviously.
    I don't know if this story works. It has had only a few readers, so maybe... @zoupskim , what do you think?
    John Calligan likes this.
  3. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

    Sep 6, 2014
    Likes Received:
    I think low-stakes stories are best when there's actually a deeper stake under the surface. Like, a woman deciding to buy a different flavour of coffee isn't at all interesting... but if you can figure out a way to show that she always bought her less-favoured flavour because it's what her boyfriend preferred, and then on this day she buys the flavour SHE prefers, it probably shows something about a change in their relationship or her attitude or something at least a little deeper. The tricky part is showing the deeper stake without overpowering the more subtle choices.
    deadrats, Wreybies, xanadu and 5 others like this.
  4. zoupskim

    zoupskim Contributor Contributor

    Jan 11, 2015
    Likes Received:
    The presence of Y'golonac
    I think @Lifeline 's story was good at showing what @BayView points out; the small, seemingly inconsequential story telegraphs a much larger theme.

    I personally don't usually write low-stakes stories, so I can't tell you how to do it. If I was writing a story about a lady picking a different kind of coffee to drink, she'd end up chased by some monster.
    Lifeline and John Calligan like this.

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice