A story is a narrative of time and events that usually culminates in a clear message, sometimes known as a moral.
A story is a structured flow of events that lead up to an enlightened ending.
A story is a sequential string of events that end in a climax. That’s a story.
A story is nothing but a vehicle. A vehicle that can be used to deliver the message that we want to.
But hey! Take a step back.
Why do we want to convey a message?
What’s the reason we’re leading up to this message?
What’s the reason I want to communicate morals through a story?
What’s the reason?
If I did not have a reason to convey a message, I wouldn’t even attempt to write a story.
The reason is the birthplace of any story.
We have to have a strong reason to tell a story. The reason is the driving force behind every story. The reason is what keeps us motivated to tell story after story after story.
The reason is the reason why we tell stories.
Once we have this reason, we can always build a story around it. A story is nothing more than a creative device for you to get your message across, preferably in a manner that keeps the audience interested. Storytelling is where you can get as creative as you want, and your reason is the motivation to tell this story.
A story that is dramatic and really keeps you interested, is entertainment.
I’m only telling you a story, because I have a reason to do so.
In fact, I’m writing this article because I have a reason.
I want to tell you a story about how story is not king.
Let's look at a few popular movies and TV shows, and the reasons for their creation.
Why did Paul Schrader write Taxi Driver?
Reason: He was depressed and lonely in New York City. He wrote the story as therapy for himself. His mind was going into dark depressing places. He had the need to get this darkness out of his system. In his own words, he was afraid he was becoming this guy (played by Robert De Niro in the movie).
Why did Joe Swanberg make the show Easy?
Reason: He was frustrated by the non-representation of the kinds of people he knew in real life. Most media shows people’s character in a simplistic black or white way. But in reality, there’s so much grey in between. People are in complicated relationships with themselves, with technology, with others. People are confused about emotions and feel stuck even when everything’s perfect. He wanted to represent the people that he knew around him, and represent characteristics of himself — that were not usually seen on screen.
Why did Raphael-Bob Waksberg make Bojack Horseman?
Reason: When he first moved to LA, he lived in a swanky house on the Hollywood Hills. This house belonged to a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend. He felt like he was on top of the world, but he also felt very empty and miserable. He hadn’t achieved anything, he felt like a failure. The show was born out of that feeling. Also, he wanted to make a show that wasn’t conclusive. He wanted to break the notions of ‘good things happen to good people, bad things happen to bad people’. He wanted to make a show that portrayed real life as is, not as a success or failure.
Why did Ryan Coogler make Black Panther?
Reason: Growing up, he couldn’t find any superheroes that looked like him. There was no superhero for black people. Everyone looked inspirational, but nobody looked like him. All superheroes were just white. He always felt the need for inspirational superheroes that looked like him, that represented the black community. This was the birth of Black Panther.
There are innumerable such examples. All good stories begin with a strong reason for the story to be told.
So, the next time you find yourself stuck in the process of storytelling, ask yourself this:
“What’s the reason I’m telling this story?”.
That should clear the clouds.