Friday, October 14, 2016


by Chuck Wendig

1. Story is, as I am wont to remind, the destruction of the status quo. A story begins when the expected course of events deviates — it’s like a bone breaking. Compound fracture, crack. The inciting incident is that break. High school is high school until a new teacher shows up and changes everything. The magical fantasy kingdom is doing its thing until the king is murdered by a murderous murdercorn (aka a once-innocent unicorn that turned super shitty). This isn’t hard to see in stories that exist: the original Star Wars trilogy has the Empire serving as the status quo, and then Luke, Leia and the gang provide the match-tip to the Rebellion powderkeg and boom, status quo shattered. This is true for the inciting incident and also true as the story progresses — any time the story threatens to return to a “new normal” or some kind of status quo, it is your job to once again break that bone just as it heals. Plot is born of this.

2. Plot is also born of agitation. Agitation is best served as conflict between characters — aka, drama. The drama llama is a storyteller’s best friend. Love the drama llama. Ride the drama llama. Make love to the — wait, no. Sorry! *sprays bleach on your brain* Characters with competing agendas, desires, and emotions agitate one another simply by dint of pursuing (or denying) these agendas, desires and emotions. It’s like putting a bunch of spiders and centipedes and beetles in a jar and shaking it up — they fight and crawl and try to escape or eat each other. Story basically starts to write itself once you’ve got these fundamental elements, because the characters will forever push the narrative forward. This isn’t magical, though, and you’ll still need to control the characters. Otherwise they will be literally born and you will wake up surrounded by them. They will have knives. Okay, maybe it is magic. Whatever.

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