The power of a well-told story is boundless, snagging me time and time again, whether through film or words on a page. I adore being taken away into an imaginary world that becomes so real, there are moments it holds me and I see nothing else. As a writer, I am constantly questioning what will hold an audience. This morning, I came across a TEDtalks that addresses this very question. What stood out most was what the audience wants from a story—what we want from a story:
Make me care.
Andrew Stanton expresses some fundamentals no matter what kind of storyteller you are:
- Make a promise that the story will lead somewhere.
- The audience wants to “work for their meal” –they just don’t want to know that they’re doing that. That’s our job as a storyteller, to hide the fact that we are making the audience work for it. In other words, we don’t need to fill in all the bits, trust the audience and their own imagination to do that job, but we need to make them “feel” in order to accomplish that.
- Change is fundamental in a story.
- 2+2. Don’t give your audience the answer.
- Have you made the audience want to know what will happen next?
- Like your main character.
- Who are you? A strong theme is always running through a well-told story. Maybe everything a character does in a story is an attempt to find his/her place in the world.
- Can you infuse wonder? Can you hold your audience still for just a moment?
Please watch Andrew Stanton’s TEDtalks: The Clues to a Great Story
Whether you are a writer or the audience, you won’t regret it.