Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Just What Makes STORY for You?

What makes a good story?

Is it the plot?

But a plot without characters is floppy at worst and a really great word-painted scenery at best.

Is it the characters?

But characters without plot is a monologue dragging without purpose or end.

Is it the dialogue?

But dialogue without characters to speak it and a plot to give it purpose is just dialogue for the sake of meaningless dialogue.

What truly makes a good story?

What makes it for you?

I’ve been mulling this fact over the last couple of weeks as I’ve read books I’ve enjoyed…and some I haven’t. Or watched a movie I really loved. Even as I talk with friends about classic stories I could consume over and over again, I’ve paused to consider the talking points that keep bringing me back.

It’s about ordinary characters that are thrust into extraordinary circumstances that demand they rise to the occasion.

That’s really all it’s about, isn’t it?

We see that in ourselves. We project our lives onto these ordinary characters and hope that if we were in their shoes, that we would rise to the occasion. That we would be rescue the damsel in distress. 
That we would speak those words of truth or anger or love. That we would get the prince. That we would stand up for truth and fight for what is right.

Think of your favorite movie.

Got a title? (Share it in the comments so others can explore what you’ve discovered.)

What is the quality in that movie that keeps you watching it over and over again?

For me, it’s Last of the Mohicans. A fairly violent movie that I only watch about once a year, but a
film that keeps me coming back—and for many reasons.

But the main one?

I admire Cora.

An ordinary woman, who within the first twenty minutes of the movie, receives a marriage proposal that she doesn’t accept.

She’s normal. She’s average. The daughter of a British colonel.

And yet, in the face of extreme danger, the loss of a perfect and safe world, she stares danger straight in the face, raises her one shot pistol, and defends her ground. Her safety. Her sister. She’s strong. She’s gentle. She’s just seeking the right place to land. And yet, there are moments of open vulnerability where the viewer sees she is absolutely frightened and at a lost. But she is not overcome.  

I can relate to her. And I want to aspire to her strength and courage. Because I don’t know if I could do what she did in the face of such vicious brutality. But I hope that I would. That I would rise to the occasion like she did.

What makes story for you?

Take that. Weave it into the dialogue. The plot. The characters. Focus on that. Let it become what drives your passion and your story. And it will drive the readers’ as well.

Leave a comment…let me know your favorite movie and why. Besides, my Netflix queue is looking kinda sad right now. ;-) 


Casey Herringshaw is a homeschool graduate and has been writing since high school. She lives in colorful Colorado where she gets to live her dream stalking--er--visiting with her favorite CO authors. 




Caleb Peiffer said...

When I think of my favorite movie, The Truman Show always comes to mind first. It's just a great movie, and a great example of a well-written story.

Truman is just an ordinary guy who gradually discovers that his whole life was fabricated for a television show. His choices drive the plot. No, his choices ARE the plot. He is the story.

Excellent article, Casey!

Pepper Basham said...

Case, I love that movie, The Last of the Mohicans and Cora's character is amazing!