July 27, 2010

THE WAY OF THE WRITER: Formula for a Great Story

Thinking about yesterday's blog posting, and I came up with the following formula for a great story:

Character + Circumstances + Choice = Change

Repeat as necessary.

The above equation actually seems to work for both writing and, well, life.

What say you? Writing formulas usually are stifling . . . and there really are no rules. However, I this is something that I've been running my characters through when I write . . . although not in this form. It doesn't always work this way, but when I write I want my character's choices to push things forward. Random chance is okay, but only if it leads to a character choice that will push things forward again. And I think, ultimately, what makes a story satisfying is that when the main protagonist changes, and that change helps them triumph.

In other words, your character's choices should drive a plot, not the other way around. Which would be, you know, the plot driving the character's choices . . .

So, gentle readers, do you agree? Disagree? Have a better way to say it? (I thought about a more complicated equation, but I decided I wasn't smart enough to do some sort of "Character divided by circumstance times choice or whatever . . .)

~ Ben

Samurai art by Tim Baron, (c) 2009

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