science fiction and fantasy writer

On knowing who wants a glass of water, being a sadist and the Asshole Leper Hero problem

In Uncategorized on December 5, 2012 at 11:59 pm

A while back I read an article by David Wong at Cracked.com entitled 5 Ways You Don’t Realize Movies Are Controlling Your Brain, and it got me thinking about how storytellers trick their audiences into caring about things that they know don’t exist.

I’ve written elsewhere about screenwriter Andrew Stanton’s advice on storytelling. Stanton says his first commandment of storytelling is “make the audience care.” There’s even a TED talk about it, because of course there is. This one’s good TED though, not bad TED – nearly as good as the one about making a chickenosaurus.

“How do storytellers make us care?” the two of you ask who haven’t gone to find out how to make a chickenosaurus.

With characters.

Kurt Vonnegut said that the storyteller must always “give the reader at least one character they can root for”. Robert McKee goes even further, saying that “character is story, story is character”. It’s a point that’s hard to overstate. [more…]

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