Stakes on the grill

I’m horrified to admit it, but part of me was disappointed that the death toll in the Minnesota bridge collapse wasn’t higher. I also had the same feeling during the early stages of the Tsunami disaster a while ago. Only in that case, my bloodlust was satisfied by a record death count. Am I the only one who thinsk this way? It seems I’ve been so desensitized to these issues, that the only way they make any dent on my consciousness is to be of magnifigant stakes. When I saw the lead on Yahoo that the death toll would be much lower than feared, my initial thought was “they broke in on the TV for this?”

I know, I’m awful. But before you get ready to cyber-lynch me, I have a writing related reason for discussing this. I think this expectation of mammoth stakes is why I’ve never gravitated toward the big thriller end of the writing/reading spectrum. I like series, and there’s no way to keep the stakes raised high enough over the course of a series for thriller level surprises. It gets to the point of ridiculousness even in some stand alone books.

I’ve always been drawn to the smaller stories, the mistakes that lead to bigger mistakes and change lives. In a tragedy like the Minnesota bridge collapse, the stories that have captured my attention have been those of people who missed the collapse due to bad traffic, or a long meeting or whatever, or even more dramatically, those who were on the bridge and normally wouldn’t have been if not for a small change of fate.

What’s your preference? Do you like massive, take over the world, enormous devestation stakes, or the smaller conflicts that can be just as heartbreaking?