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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Storytelling: The Climb

Tuesday, December 21, 2010 Posted by Chris Tung , , , No comments
The idea of a character climbing up the mountain to reach the goal at the top isn't a new idea. In fact, it's the most basic element of story telling minus the plot and character. We, as readers or audience members, want to see our character face difficult obstacles in order to reach their goals. The more challenging the obstacles, the sweeter the reward. This is something that I've always known, but only until yesterday did I really understand how important it is to make a steep mountain than a small mole hill.

I've been working on a screenplay to submit to the Ivy Film Festival, and I've been having my closest friends and fellow writers take a look at it to help me improve the storyline. Yesterday, I received two comments that forced me to take a brand new look at my story and reevaluate what it is I want to tell and a better way of telling it:

1) My friend Kevin said that the main character is difficult to really care about. By the end of it, he couldn't rally behind the character but he thought he was simply, "meh".
2) My friend Ivan pointed out that the climb was pretty much nonexistent. Although there were some difficulties in getting to where he needed to go, the hero pretty much was walking up a tiny little mole hill. What he demanded was having the character climb up Everest with "rocks, flaming arrows, rain, etc." attacking him as he moves a boulder up the hill.

Together, these two comments have sort of forced me to start over. Not completely, but I have to really study my character and create more obstacles again because, and this is the educational part here, if the character has extremely difficult obstacles to get over we begin to cheer more for the character because of the seemingly impossible odds. In addition to this, if we care more about the character AND he or she is able to make it to the top of their metaphorical mountain, we experience a similar catharsis as the character. We need our comic scripts or screenplays or novels have characters with unique lovable [or hate-able personalities] so that in some way or another we have an emotional connection with the character. Once we do, when the arrows and gunfire and demons start attacking our character, we want them to succeed not for the character but for US to make it to the finish line with them.

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