30 September 2014

The 3 Rules of Storytelling, a review

Hello, Readers!


Thanks for coming back.  Today we're going to talk about the three rules of dramatic writing and storytelling.  You'll probably remember the rules from all of those delicious craft books we've read together, like John Gardner's The Art of Fiction or James N. Frey's How to Write a Damn Good Novel volumes I & II or Lajos Egri's The Art of Dramatic Writing and many others.  But in case you've forgotten the rules, here they are:

The Rules of Dramatic Writing
1) Conflict
2) Conflict
3) More Conflict

Conflict is what drives our stories, what reveals our characters, and what leads to the revelations of the underlying ideals put to question in our stories.  Conflict, in other words, proves premise.

There are tons of ways to create conflict externally, but for the conflict to really matter, it has to reach into the heart of your protagonist and wrench her from her life of dog-walking and competition shark-training and take her into the seedy underworld of manta-ray racing (manta-racing).  That means that the conflict has to resonate with the protagonist's internal conflicts as well.

If you're unsure what that's going to look like, here's a great article by Steven James, author of National bestsellers The Bishop and The Knight. In his article, James discusses how to really draw in the reader and to flesh out one's characters, the key is to give the protagonist conflicting ideals.  If your character is a pacifist that also thirsts for justice, what happens when a drunk driver kills his wife but escapes justice because of a technicality?

I bet you want to know, don't you?  I do.  Take your characters and put them in the same situation.

Show us your masterpiece.

Thanks for reading.

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