E-Book Review Volume 1 HTML version

He visited the factory and checked output with the foreman.
He drove home and played with his two kids.
He ate dinner with the family.
He watched TV.
He went to bed.
Well, something certainly happened there. George discovers that his friend Bob is gay and is in
love with him.
Does that make this a story?
Not to my mind. What we have is an incident, with no consequent resolution. What are the
George is disgusted and breaks off his friendship with Bob.
George admits his own homosexuality and returns Bob’s love.
George tells Bob he knew he was gay but, as a heterosexual, cannot return his love.
This addition of complication starts the process of creating a plot. How much further complication
we add is down to the writer. The reader expects a certain level of complexity, but not so much
that he loses track of events.
At this point I’d just like to emphasise that physical action is not necessary to create a story. The
entire sequence of events could take place inside George’s head. His motivations, desires, fears
and thoughts, if portrayed in a logical sequence, would make for a perfectly acceptable tale.
Classical storytelling techniques require a protagonist (the hero) and an antagonist (the villain).
With a three act set-up we create a conflict in the first act. In the second we resolve it, In the third
we find that the resolution is not adequate and further efforts on the part of the hero are required
to reach the denouement.
Can good storytelling be reduced to such a simple formula? The answer is yes and no, but in
essence it always boils down to these elements.
If you think this is very restrictive look at the variations that can be injected into the above. There
can be more than one protagonist (the hero often has a sidekick). The antagonist can also have
one or more henchmen. The problem posed which leads to the conflict can be anything from a
missing baby’s rattle to the theft of a nuclear weapon. And, within the confines of a story arc that
means conflict-effort-resolution we can add as much complication as we can imagine.
Why doesn’t the Bond villain just shoot Bond when he has him prisoner? Because it would make a
lousy story. How believable the villain’s motivation is for keeping Bond alive (and thus allowing him
to escape) is entirely up to the creative skill of the writer.