Kristen Lamb once again teaches us about writing and how storms are the center of all great stories. Thanks so much for a new blog post and your education, Kristen!
Every story begins with ideas. Alas, stories can only be created when at least two vastly different ideas collide. The place where these ideas meet is the BOOM, much like the weather.
Storms erupt because of two very different bodies of air meet…and don’t get along.
Only one idea, however, can win. In the meantime, lots of metaphorical rain, lightning strikes and maybe some tornadoes. After the powerful storms, the landscape is altered, lives are changed, some even lost.
It’s the same with powerful stories. Yet, instead of weather fronts colliding, differing ideas are colliding.
It’s wonderful to have a great story idea. Alas, an idea alone is not enough. It’s a solid start but that’s all. Loads of people have ‘great ideas’ and that and five bucks will get them a half-foam latte at Starbucks…one day when it reopens.
Ideas are everywhere…especially now *sighs*
What differentiates the author from the amateur is taking the time to understand—fundamentally—how to take that idea and craft it, piece by piece, into a great story readers love.
Thank you for an amazing blog post on how to choose the right antagonist. This is an interesting and very educational post.
Here’s how to choose the right antagonist for your story. You know “If I Didn’t Have You”—that song John Goodman and Billy Crystal belt out at the end of Monsters, Inc.? It’s this total bromance duet about the undying friendship of our two favorite monsters. But pretty much every lyric in there could also be crooned in gratitude by any good protagonist to any good antagonist:
I wouldn’t be nothing
If I didn’t have you
I wouldn’t know where to go
Wouldn’t know what to do
The antagonist may not be the big-money reason readers pick up a book or audiences flock to a theater. But he is ultimately the reason the protagonist either a) has a reason to stop wasting her life eating potato chips on the couch or b) doesn’t just coast through every obstacle with boring ease.
So we gotta give our antagonists some love.
Author Kristen Lamb writes about conflict and why it’s important for our stories. Thank you very much Kristen. I’m learning so much reading your blog and I’m convinced I’m not the only one.
Conflict is the core ingredient required for story. It is the magical elixir with the raw power to transform a story we think we’ve heard a million times before into something wholly unique and mesmerizing. FYI, there are no new stories, only new ways of telling the same stories. Just getting that out of the way.
A Thousand Acres is basically King Lear on an Iowa farm, and Avatar is Pocahontas in Space. I could give a zillion more examples but won’t.
In fairness, this makes our job simpler. We really don’t want to create a story no one has ever heard before. Not only because it’s pretty much impossible to do in the first place, but it’s also highly risky even if we managed to pull it off. Why?
Because the story ‘never before told’ cannot possibly resonate emotionally. Humans have no emotional touchpoint for something they’ve never experienced…ever.
Resonance is Critical
Love gone wrong? Betrayal? Messed up family? Righting wrongs of the past? Clearing one’s name from being falsely accused? Rebuilding after a loss? Finally earning approval, love, or acceptance? Impacts of abuse or addiction?
This stuff we get.
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