Weighing goals and stakes

scaleIn every story, the main character has something they want (goal) and something they have to lose if they don’t get it (stakes). These two things sit on a scale something like is shown on the left.

The number one rule when it comes to balancing these two is that the goal must outweigh the stakes. The reader will believe that the main character must risk his life in order to save the life of his father, but he will not believe that he must risk his life in order to get a ham sandwich.