Episode 661 - Steaks... stakes

Nov 13, 2023

Stakes are a part of a story. What does a character want? What means the most to the character? What are they after, what do they care about? Stakes can be really subjective like that and they can also be objective and more universal like death, debt, a threat to a home, nation, planet or even the universe. The most important thing though is that you can communicate the value of those stakes to the audience! It doesn't actually matter WHAT the stakes are as long as the audience understands that they're important.

Topics and Show Notes

Sooooo so many writers seem to have zero idea about that. One idea is that you need to “raise the stakes” in order to get the audience to be more invested, which certainly works but what a bad writer will always do is just crudely add onto the objective stakes: “Ten people were in danger but NOW it's 500! But wait… now it's 6000. OMG, now it's a million! Oh wow, the fate of the known universe hangs in the balance!”. The truth is that at a certain point it loses value, we just can't relate very well to bigger and bigger numbers and the “known universe” is an empty concept to most people. To really raise the stakes you have to pick things that the audience CAN care about and/or show that it's really affecting the characters in a way the audience can symbathise with.

If you write it correctly, a character losing their favourite pen can be a tragedy of earth shaking proportions and them needing to get it back can be an epic tale of redemption and self discovery without them ever leaving their office.

The idea here was inspired by Banes' newspost on the Marvel films. They're a great case in point, the higher they make the stakes the less we care. The first Avengers movie was a lot of fun till the end when they were trying to save New York city, fighting hoards of meaningless CGI blobs: “raising the stakes” didn't make things more interesting. It was more engaging when they were talking and just fighting Loki because these were stakes we could more easily relate to. It's a pattern that repeats in a lot of marvel movies and TV shows. Sometimes they get it right, and sometimes they get it wrong.

How do YOU approach stakes?

This week Gunwallace has given us a theme inspired by I wont Marry the General as the Dragon Lords only Daughter - A dense, layered palace of a tune here, it sounds like the theme to a major Hollywood film. We have a lot of body, depth and power to this sound. All electronic. You can just imagine mysterious opening scenes, titles fading into view and flicking of screen as you wait in anticipation for the story to begin.

Topics and shownotes


Inspired by Banes' newspost - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/news/2023/nov/08/mcu-scraps-do-overs-and-to-reboot-or-not-to-reboot/

Featured comic:
Adkien - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/news/2023/nov/06/featured-comic-adkien/

Featured music:
I wont Marry the General as the Dragon Lords only Daughter - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/I_wont_Marry_the_General_as_the_Dragon_Lords_only_Daughter/ - by ShriekingMagpie, rated A.

Special thanks to:
Gunwallace - http://www.virtuallycomics.com
Ozoneocean - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/ozoneocean
Tantz Aerine - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/Tantz_Aerine/
Banes - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/Banes/

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Ozoneocean at 4:16PM, Nov. 29, 2023

@JohnCelestri - That sounds good. They retain their individuality then!

JohnCelestri at 2:42PM, Nov. 29, 2023

For me, the entertainment is in watching the conflict between characters. When I write, I start with characters who are very different from each other. I give them goals they want to achieve. I follow Sol Stein's advice in developing drama in plots (Google who he is). In essence, I give each of my characters/actors in my story different scripts...each of them doesn't know what the others' script is, so they are clashing and creating conflict.

Ozoneocean at 8:24AM, Nov. 14, 2023

No it's at the 4.30 minute mark. That's he theme tune Gunwallace composed for your comic. It's ok if you don't like it though.

ShriekingMagpie at 6:48AM, Nov. 14, 2023

Did you just click-bait me? 😭

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