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The Magic of Story-telling p3

Mr Warne writes about the essential ingredient in a story…

Remember the songs I’m a Yankee Doodle Dandy, and Give My Regards to Broadway? They are from successful musical comedies written by George M. Cohan. Cohan had a simple format for all his stage shows.

ACT ONE: Get the hero up a tree.

ACT TWO: Throw rocks at him.

ACT THREE: Get him out of the tree.

In other words: put the main character in a difficult situation and let’s watch him fight his way out.

Storytellers call the main character’s hard fight to solve his problem the conflict. Conflict is the essential ingredient in any story. If you don’t have conflict, you don’t have a story. If you don’t have conflict, you won’t have an audience either. We’re only interested in seeing your main character solve his problem, reach his decision, or realize some vital truth if he has to fight against strong opposition to do it. Here’s a favourite format of magazine story-writers:

1.Make the readers like a person.

2.Make that person want something.

3.Put an obstacle in his way.

4.Show how he overcomes the obstacle.

What’s the most important part of the format? Put an obstacle in his way and show how he overcomes the obstacle. Let’s see him fight to get what he wants. Maximum desire set against maximum opposition gives you maximum drama.

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