Whether we’re writing post text for social media or the script for our next film, we challenge ourselves to answer these four questions to help make our stories stronger.
1. Is this memorable? Imagine yourself at a restaurant. You’re camped out in the corner of the room with three or four of your closest friends. Everyone is sharing moments from their life that have passed since your group was last together. If it’s only been a week since your last chat these are probably little moments, like something that happened at work or something the kids did at home. If it’s been years since you had a chance to catch up with these friends everyone will be recalling big moments in life - weddings, babies and what’s changed in the world. Whether it’s just been a week since you last talked to your friends or years, when we’re in an intimate conversation we tend to share only the moments that were memorable.
2. Is this interesting? Novelty is amazing. It literally causes biological reactions to occur in our brain chemistry. When we see something new or different, we can’t help but look. Noticing things that are out of place can trigger warnings in our brain to let us know we might not be safe. You probably don’t want to scare anyone, but when you can make a story unique enough to stand out from the white noise we create novelty, and novelty is interesting. Interesting stories get attention. When you get stuck trying to make a boring subject interesting, see Questions 3 and 4, below.
3. Are the characters and the scene descriptively defined? The point of telling a story is to bring other people into the moment with you. Who is there? What are they wearing? What are they feeling? How are they acting? What does it look like, smell like and feel like in the scene? The more context you can add to describe the scene the more your reader or viewer will be pulled into your story.
4. Is this going anywhere? Our brains are amazing machines. Think back to dinner time at the restaurant with your friends. What did you do when that one friend started telling the story you’ve heard a hundred times? Odds are, you checked out. Just like a joke you’ve heard before, as soon as our brain realizes it knows the punchline, we’re gone. Your story should lead somewhere. What makes a good novel? Sometimes it’s the shocking twist. Sometimes it’s how connected we feel to the characters. Most of the time we keep turning the pages because we know just enough to be comfortable moving forward, always holding anticipation for what’s coming next.« Back to Blog