This week’s video talks about how getting all the obvious things right in a story isn’t always enough if you’re lacking one crucial element.
Video Transcript: It’s not enough to have a story that covers its bases—and by that I mean a story that essentially works. It’s properly structured, the prose is professional, and it possesses all the working pieces (plot, character, etc.). But checking all the boxes on your story checklist isn’t enough to create a good story. For example, let’s say you’re writing an action thriller about an agent who is betrayed and goes rogue. Standard genre fare. Tough-as-nails hero. Check. Lots of action scenes. Check. Loved one in danger. Check. Smarmy politicians and duplicitous former friends. Check.
What’s missing? Well, aside from the fact that you’re hitting absolutely all of the genre clichés, you also don’t yet have a story. To which you may say, “What? Of course, I have a story. It’s all right here.” To which I say, “Not really.” All you’ve got at this point is the framework for a story. And if you were to leave it at just that, you would be barely skimming the surface of your story’s potential.
How do you go about digging deeper and finding the mother lode of your story’s potential? First thing, you hunt around for some original ways to hit your genre’s standard tropes. Second, you look at your character. Winding up a character and letting him run through the motions of your plot isn’t enough. Dig deep and find what makes this person tick. It’s going to be his personal reactions to events—not the impressive way in which he handles them—that are important. And this certainly doesn’t apply to just action stories. Whatever your genre, you have to dig deep, not just for originality, but for emotion. You can do everything else right, but if you don’t put a check in that box, none of the rest is going to matter.
Tell me your opinion: Have you ever read or watched a story that you felt should have dug deeper into the protagonist’s reactions to events?
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