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[Advice req] Matching external/internal stakes

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Hi guys -

I'm trying to write a story on the smaller scale of things (my past projects quickly became too big for me). Right now I am struggling with outlining a rough idea of the plot, and in order to do that I'm trying to figure out the stakes.

For context: In the story the MC (not yet a teen) and her uncle are camping on an island: soon after arriving she discovers and befriends a creature who takes care of the life on the island. It is known, but becomes more weighted as time goes on, that the creature and MC will have to part when MC's vacation comes to an end, and that they might never meet again afterwards.

I have a decent grasp of what I want the internal stakes to be - whether MC will be able to maintain her childlike optimism in the face of departure and separation, or whether her worldview will fall apart because of it. But I'm not sure what external stakes could go well with it to create a throughline for the plot. I do envision it to be less about a positive change in fortune than about a negative change of spirit, kind of like coming-of-age combined with aspects of tragedy (b/c i can't think of a better comparison, sorry).

Does anyone have any ideas for what it could be, or for how I can figure it out?

[note: if this is the wrong subforum for this kind of topic, please forgive me and move it to the right spot - I'm used to YCM format]

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While you could go the ET route and having the creature in danger from those who would seek to catch it, I think Radio's on the money here.

While comparing and contrasting internal and external stakes can do quite a lot for a story, they are not a necessity. Your concept already has a conflict, and could be complete with it alone.

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On 7/17/2022 at 5:16 PM, (o ×) said:

While you could go the ET route and having the creature in danger from those who would seek to catch it, I think Radio's on the money here.

While comparing and contrasting internal and external stakes can do quite a lot for a story, they are not a necessity. Your concept already has a conflict, and could be complete with it alone.

i'm sorry for being so late, but could i ask for an elaboration?

some context to my question: while the standard story template is about a MC who wants to obtain something (an object, a relationship, status, whatever) and the obstacles he faces in trying to obtain it, i envisioned this current story of mine as: being about a MC who either starts the story with what she wants or gets it early on, but then faces the prospect of losing it, and the obstacles she faces in trying to hold on. (in this story, her relation with the wonder creature, and her own related sense of wonder and optimism, is the thing she's trying to "hold on" to.)

with that in mind, i feel a little pressure to have an external conflict/tension to match the internal one, but that may be because there's virtually no resources on the latter arc (out of the two in above paragraph) so i've been trying to borrow from the old one to bolster my confidence, and any potential reader's confidence, in taking my story through essentially uncharted territory. (although i do agree with you that the ET route would be counterproductive.) it doesn't help that i have a problem with my mind latching onto things and then i have great difficulty diverting my mind from that topic.

if this advice from the "old guard" of story is not necessary, in the context of my selected story arc, do you have any ideas for what to substitute for the classical internal/external duality, or otherwise something else to focus on?? if it is necessary to borrow from the old guard, what should i focus on that they have to offer?

lastly, before you answer: thank you for sharing with me your opinion, both of you! talking it out w/ others helps shine a perspective on things i didn't notice before, and that helps reencourage me to move forward.

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