I looked up from peeling potatoes, and the expression on his face told me it was a rhetorical question. He didn’t want to know what I thought; he wanted to tell me what he thought made a movie good.
My son is a Marvel fanatic. He’s watched them all: Captain America, Hulk, Thor and, his favourite, Iron Man. He’s also seen Guardians of the Galaxy multiple times. He’s analysed them, critiqued them and guessed at the story line. Immediately after watching a movie or Agents of Shield (the TV show connecting with the movies), we know to expect his mind—travelling at light speed—to start churning ideas, and his mouth—also travelling at light speed—to start sharing them.
So when he asked me a question like, “Do you know what makes a movie good?” I start thinking about the action, the story line and the puns. After I provided the wrong answering, he said, “No,” and took a seat. I knew I was in for a long-winded explanation.
(Guardians of the Galaxy: The orb holds the power stone, and Ronan is the bad guy.)
He continued. “We can’t let Ronan get on the ground.”
(If Ronan reaches the planet Xandar and is able to touch the orb to the ground, everything will be destroyed.)
He smiles. “Ronan gets on the ground. See, it’s gotta happen that way.” He got up and left, leaving his wisdom for me to mull over.
I agreed quickly that he was right. Whatever the characters feared most had to happen. Then, as writers, we have to figure out how they either save themselves or the world in which they live. Through this action, the characters grow and become more interesting to readers.
After hearing this simple but great plot path, I wondered about my own stories. Did I apply this philosophy, which in turn—if I did it right—would make a story good?
I can’t give examples of this happening in my novels without giving away spoilers, but when I think about the fantasy novel I’m editing right now—Scattered Stones—I realise I have done this: several things the characters feared happening, happened. Yeah!
What about you? Think about your story. What does your main character fear will happen? Does it?