Every great story has 10 essential elements, says story coach Michael Hauge. In yesterday’s post, I revealed the first five. To recap, a great story must have:
- A hero with a goal who will carry the story forward.
- A setup that shows his life before everything changed.
- Scenes that create empathy with the reader.
- An event or opportunity that pushes the story forward and creates a desire to change the status quo, and
- A new situation that pushes the hero to solve an immediate problem. In the midst of this problem, a new element must emerge:
6. Outer motivation – a visible goal or finish line that the hero wants to accomplish by the end of the story. This goal must be within the hero’s power to accomplish. As a story coach, Hauge focuses on this element. This is a fundamental element to know in order to answer the question, “What is your story about?” In the movie, Gravity, the heroine’s goal was, “I want to get home.” This outer motivation should be easily expressed in a single sentence. The clearer you can be about the visible goal of the hero, the better. The movie, Lincoln was built on one clear goal: End slavery. This goal must drive the story line all the way to the climax.
Along the way, the next element will come into play: Read more
You probably know the key elements of good storytelling and have even observed them in books and movies, but do you consciously use them in your own writing?
At a recent writer’s meetup in Las Vegas, Hollywood story coach Michael Hauge spoke about what makes a great story. He’s coached writers, producers, and directors on projects for actors, including Will Smith, Julia Roberts, Jennifer Lopez, and Morgan Freeman, as well as every major studio and network.
Hauge said there are 10 essential elements to great storytelling, and ultimately they’re the key points an agent or editor will want to know when you pitch your project. Here are the first five:
1. The story must have a hero or heroine. This main character – the protagonist — more than any other character, drives the story and has the potential to be heroic. The hero has a desire that propels the action.
2. The Setup. In the setup, you’ll introduce the hero living his everyday life before anything heroic happens. The movie Lone Survivor draws readers into the world of the characters before they go on their fatal mission. The first scenes show them interacting with family and dealing with daily life. In this world, you must use vivid details to, “create a movie in the mind of the reader,” Hauge said. This will amplify the readers’ emotion, and eliciting emotion is a core principle of successful stories.
Fiction novels and movies are “before and after pictures,” Hauge said. The setup is the “before picture.” Sometimes these scenes show how the hero is “stuck.”
While most movies and novels open with action already underway, it’s important early in the story to reveal what was happening before the action began. Read more