PLAY SORCERER 5: A Story is Not Just Fictional Stuff Strung Along in a Sequence


Making up stuff is fun. Coming up with imagery and events and situations and characters is a blast. But doing these things alone does not make a story.

A story is about something. Well, actually, as story is about two things.

A story is about what the plot is about, some sort of a person or people that begins, moves forward to a middle where the causality of the characters choices about how to behave or what to do ratchet up the tension, and then some sort of end that resolves whatever was at stake at the beginning.

But the second thing a story is about is all those choices the main characters make. Every story is filled with decisions the characters make, again and again. Not in the sense of “Should I choose the left door or the right door?” or “What shotgun gauge should I carry?” but in the sense of “Should I help this person?” or “Should I commit this crime?” or “Should I believe this man when he tells me the world I know around me is a lie?”

Without some sort of question on the table about how people choose to behave, we don’t have a story.

Call it “Theme,” call it “Premise,” call it whatever you want, but don’t call it boring. This question, whatever the question might be, is what pulls readers and viewers into a tale and makes it more than a series of fictional moments. These choices revolve around moments that are emotional and visceral—not academic at all.

If you’ve loved a book, a movie, or a television show I’m telling you right now, there was an emotional and ethical question slammed against the protagonist or protagonists again and again in that story. You might not have noticed it. But it was there.



One Response to “PLAY SORCERER 5: A Story is Not Just Fictional Stuff Strung Along in a Sequence”

  1. Tor Erickson Says:

    Good stuff. Didn’t realize you had picked these up again. Really enjoying it.

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