So I’m reading this book by Don Miller (btw, one of my favorite authors just because he writes so simplistically – and with a bit of good humor – about spirituality and life) and in this particular book he is suggesting that the elements which make a good story in, say, a movie are the same elements which make a good story for our lives. The subtitle for the book is How I Learned to Live a Better Story. It’s really good stuff. Here’s the part where he sets up the basis for the book, I believe:
“You’d never know there was so much to learn about story. There are antagonists and protagonists, story turns and transitional dialogue. The whole thing is quite a science, really. Good stories don’t happen by accident, I learned. They are planned… I wondered what a story actually was. I sat on my bed with my yellow pad and sifted through the pages of notes. I picked up [a book] and read a few pages before all the words started getting blurry. I set the book down on the bed and looked over at Jordan, who was watching a rerun of Seinfeld…
‘A story is a character who wants something and overcomes conflict to get it,’ he said with remarkable assurance.
‘What’s that again?’ I asked reaching for a pen and flipping the bulk of pages in my yellow pad over my lap, arriving at a blank page.
‘A character,’ he said. ‘Who wants something,’ he continued. ‘And overcomes conflict.’ He paused so I could write it down. ‘To get it.’
I looked at the definition for a second, wondering how simple it really was. He was right. A character who wants something and overcomes conflict to get it is the basic structure of a good story. ‘That’s it,’ I said to him. ‘That’s the essence of a story.’
‘The antagonist!’ Jordan shouted, pointing at Newman on the television.” – Don Miller, A Million Miles In A Thousand Years, p 46-48