Types of Stakes
Life or Death
Perhaps the most common kind of stakes seen in thrillers and adventure stories. When life and limb are in peril, then we are tested to our limits. Our heroes have to dig deeper, face the most difficult choices, and perhaps even sacrifice their own lives to save others. It is in the face of death that our protagonist’s true nature is revealed: are they a hero or a coward?
Or just another day in the office for James Bond. If our hero fails, then the consequences will be devastating for the whole planet (or known universe if you’re writing science fiction). Stakes don’t get any higher than this. If your hero fails, billions will suffer!
The most important stakes of all. The more it matters to your hero, the more it will matter to the reader, and the more they will be engaged in the story.
And you don’t have to use these in isolation. Combining these global or life and death stakes with personal stakes is what makes stories so appealing to readers.