Ever been reading a story and had a thought like ‘where is this even going?’, ‘I’m so bored right now, when is it going to pick up?’, or ‘this plot is predictable’?
Yeah, you want to avoid this at all costs in your story. And it all comes down to constantly raising the stakes. What do I mean by that? I mean adding more drama, more twists and setbacks, more for the character to lose should they fail. Let’s consider an example:
Jane Doe searches for the hidden oasis to find herself and her beliefs.
Sounds okay, but needs some sprucing up (aka higher stakes) let’s try something else:
Jane Doe searches for the oasis, hoping to find her beliefs after her people were made slaves.
Backstory is better. Still needs more though.
Jane searches for the Oasis, a place that may hold the key to freeing her enslaved people and reconfirm her beliefs.
Now we’ve got a story. It could still be better though:
Jane escapes from a labor camp to find the Oasis, the one place that may hold the key to bargaining for the freedom of her people. But the king has sent talented assasins after her and the mythical oasis is said to vanish for years after appearing for a week.
Now we’ve got a deadline and enemies to fight, two key stakes that most stories should include. Every story can always use some raised stakes, consider where yours is lacking so it never drags!