4 Aug 2011


Captain Kyoraku Shunsui
What makes a good story? Age old question right? I consider myself an expert judge of good story telling because I am very particular about what I read and watch. Also, I have a very strong self-serving bias and I think I'm always right :)
The smallest of blunders can ruin an entire story and make a fundamental difference in the perception of it in its entirety.
Here is an example; The Diamond Dust Rebellion, which involved the characters of Bleach, was a highly anticipated film. When it premiered, it had moments that lived up to its hype but one stood out that put a damper on the entire party. Shunsui Kyōraku, who is said to be one of the most brilliant and powerful captains in the world of Bleach was put in a coma and hospitalised by a random villain who was created just for that film.  Maybe I'm biased because I really like his character but this ruined the entire movie for me. All the hype and reputation that they gave Shunsui Kyōraku's character was extinguished just like that.
Such blunders fall into the bracket of deviating from the original premise. This is something that should never be done if audiences are to continue enjoying your stories. If Superman, Hulk, Ghost Rider or Thor are very powerful, your audience will love them for that but the moment you undermine the initial power that you gave them, there will be a disconnect. If someone is going to cause trouble for any of your characters, they must be either physically or intellectually at par. The audience should be aware of everyone's limits and motivations as nobody likes a character who keeps changing in a way that you can't keep-up with.
I've gotten way ahead of myself so I will back-up to the initial requirements of a good story. They may seem obvious but you would be surprised how many story tellers get it wrong.
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen's
Ramon Rodriguez who... Ummm...
What Was His Role Again? Hmmm
You must first have strong main characters, brilliant minor characters and a villain to die for (In a manner of speaking). The important thing with characters is in the detail. Do not skimp on their depth because everyone has a story to tell. Besides those in good natured/fun children shows, there is nobody who is just evil to be evil. There is a story behind every action, every path taken and every life choice made. While we are on the subject, make that reason a good one. I would refer you to a certain two part documentary called Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and Transformers: Dark of the Moon which both teach you how NOT to create a villain's motivation.
With good characters comes memorable dialogue and bundles of wit. Everyone loves a witty comic book, novel or movie. Give your audience the chance to pause and think "Wow, I've always wanted to be in position to say that." Those make the most memorable stories. For all the flack it got, Watchmen had some of the best dialogue I've heard in a movie adaptation of a comic book.
 The two-part documentary (Transformers) previously mentioned also delves into the aspect of pointless characters. Every character used must advance the plot in some way or provide much needed (And I stress on "much needed") breaks from the main plot. Your audience should NEVER ask, "So why was so-and-so in that story? What was his contribution?" and they should never find a scene irrelevant to the story. Michael Bay please don't look at me that way.
Cultivation of relationships, whether friendly or antagonistic, is oh so important while you escalate tensions in your story. I used to watch Cadillacs and Dinosaurs as a kid but the story got old very fast. There was no character development or advancement in relationships between the characters. This is by far the most important for me. As problems get bigger and the pace of the story increases (And it must), characters should either form tighter bonds or move further away from one-another. Brian Michael Bendis (Writer at Marvel Comics) is an expert at handling characters and arguably the best comic book writer at the company right now. It is unrealistic and quite annoying to read a comic book or watch a show that has the same relationship dynamics today as it will have next year... *cough cough BLEACH cough cough*
Tintin Performing an Everyday Activity.
Relatability will be my final contribution to this post. This is not to say that it is the final component; it is just one of those at the top of my list. It is important for audiences to relate to your fictional environment. Again, Brian Michael Bendis does this so well. It is as simple as your character saving money to buy a present or ordering pizza while watching TV or my favourite, showing your character in their silly pyjamas. This small simple scenes really humanise your character(s) and make them very relatable. I love reading Tintin for the same reason; he really feels human through all of his adventures due to such little details.
When I write a story, these are the main things that I look to include and because I enjoy them so much, you will too :)


  1. Such truth. Especially about transformers, disappointment galore. it applies to tv series, video games and uh everything pretty much. great post

    oh check this out


  2. Thanks, and that post is hilarious. You shall be killed.