Ideas propel creativity, they are the starting point of any action. In story telling it is the culmination of many ideas that lend to the elements of a well meshed story. It’s an idea that first motivates the characters, as those ideas and ideologies change, the different shades of the character start coming into play. While the clashes come out of conflicting ideas, the ultimate climax is the victory of an idea while the umbrella under which all these intermingle is the theme which integrates the story up as a whole.
To be able to lend movement and action to an idea is what a story does. Writers breathe life into this idea through dramatization. The point of difference between one story to the next is the choice of which ideas to focus the dramatization on. This is unique to each writer.
The thought process that goes into selecting the best ideas based on the situations portrayed in the story is what sets a great story apart from an average one, consequently what rings up the numbers at the box offices versus a dud.
Focusing too much on the events in a story rather than the ideas that propel the characters to act in a particular way or to feel conflicted is dangerous. The motive to drive a story forward has to be a set of ideas that are conceived and go through all the journey of comparing, contrasting and conflicting before they arrive at the end point of a justifiable end. The events therefore are just a shell to convey this whole journey from conception to concretization of an idea.
Let’s take a closer look at how as a writer one can choose which ideas to focus on while creating a story under the following categories :
- Motivation :
There has to be a strong driver to push one into action. Factors such as Love, Fear, Poverty, Jealousy, Revenge etc. all act as strong motivators to influence one’s action.
In the film ()
- Mental Framework
A person obsessed with knowing why something has happened may be a detective as he likes everything to be explainable and in order. Someone who believes in modernity may be open to change and probably act in a manner that is far ahead of their times and thereby offend the sensibilities of the society around them. A person with a deep sense of justice may be willing to fight a losing battle because they believe that even the underdog deserves a fair chance. All these characters hold some ideal very dear to themselves and decide to act very strongly in accordance to that.
- Creating a completely Fresh Perspective
The main characters may have completely opposite views as compared . One might believe in the deliverance of justice while the other might be a champion of compassion, one might believe in the sanctity of marriage and the need to hold it above all else while the other might put duty and responsibility to the position they hold first. Yet these characters are not completely opposing each other, they find a way to travel the same path along with the conflict.
- Central Conflict
Every character in the story has a different perspective on how the central conflict has come into being and how it needs to be solved, different factors will be given different levels of importance depending on who is the one who controls the situation. Each has a justification why they feel an action should be carried out in a particular manner. There would be a clash of objectivity and truth depending on a very personal reason, here some are ideals are compromised to give importance to particular ideas and the characters will find a way to reason out the course of action. Each mix will have some similarities with another but not completely the same.
- Black and White
The entire premise of the movie is to clearly depict strongly polarized ideas that are opposing in nature and explore why one must win in the end , be it as simple as Good vs Evil or Integrity vs Compromise. The action needs to strongly support these ideas coming into play and feeding off each other before reaching a conclusion of which one stands .
Use Lists to create a compelling and gripping story
All ideas are not equal, some will need to gain more importance in a story than others. Choose carefully the set of ideas and then drill down to which ones are the most important that serve as the guiding light for a story. While a particular issue being played out may be true of a very selective group of people, trying to link and connect that at a level that everyone can relate to it is what will create a wide acceptance. The greater the acceptance, the larger numbers of audiences feel compelled to be open to something that is a little different from them and yet relatable at some level.
There are many ways and means to arrive at how a story needs to pan out, however what is at the crux of it is to figure out what is the most important and compelling idea which is the essence of the story and then work on how to dramatize this idea to be able to convey it to an audience.
Many scripts and stories where the narrative is not built strongly around the central idea feel incomplete and have gaps. As a first timer, to be sensitive to those gaps might be hard and the expertise of a director or producer to home in on that central idea might be required. A script editor helps scrape away all the excess and keep the telling true to the central theme. With experience, study and practice one learns how to figure out which is the best idea and how to work on them in a focused manner. That can only come to being when as a writer one has the clarity about how important ideas are be it in developing a story or even in real life.
By John Edathattil with Sneha Kuryan Reddy