Why am I writing this story and what purpose does it fulfill?
This is the second of the four questions listed in my last entry: What makes your story unique?
I believe there should always be (and there always is) a reason for writing your story. Some include:
- Making money (one of the least of the reasons): You see this all the time in the media. Movies being churned out simply because they will make money. (rebooting older movies, movie sequels, Cars 2)
- Making someone laugh: comedy! (Jeeves and Wooster, Much Ado About Nothing, Emperor’s New Groove)
- Making a political point or raise awareness: (Blood Diamond, V for Vendetta, Taken, 1984, Juno)
- Taking someone on an adventure: escapism. (The Lord of the Rings, Sahara, Star Dust, Wall-E)
- Illustrating a moral truth or teaching a lesson: (Chronicles of Narnia, Aesop’s Fables)
- Presenting a philosophical perspective or situation: (Fight Club, the Prestige, There Will be Blood)
- Educating: teaching the audience a bit about history, science, etc. (Into the West, biographies, King’s Speech)
There are more, of course, but those are some off the top of my head. Now, I don’t want these to be confused with Genre, even though some of the ‘reasons’ are genres (like Comedy and Adventure). These are examples of “what was the writer’s motive“.
You might object and say, “Cars 2 isn’t about making money, it is about…“. I am not saying that movie sequels don’t have stories that make good points, but we’re asking the question: what was the motive for making the movie. Sometimes it is simply a money-maker. “Everyone loved Pirates of the Caribbean and Jack Sparrow, so let’s make more of those! People will watch them even if they aren’t good.” Unfortunately, this is true. However, I admire people who make stories because they are bringing something new to the table. We have plenty movies, books and shows telling us to “be yourself!”, so we don’t need anymore!
I admired Christopher Nolan, the director/writer of the new Batman movies (Batman Begins, Dark Knight, and Dark Knight Rises), when he said that he refused to write any sequels unless he had a good story.
So what is your motive?
What is this story doing? 1984 depicted a scary world with a “big brother” type government and as a result, most of us who have read it don’t want to live in that world! Any of us who have read Lord of the Rings knows the thrill of feeling like we went on the adventure with the characters; we were able to escape into the world of Middle Earth for a while. And how many of us, after reading the Lion Witch and the Wardrobe, feel like we understand so much more the meaning of self-sacrifice? What do you want your audience to experience through your story? Or another question to ask yourself is: what difference did it make now that someone experienced your story?
So, even as I write something like a comic book, I want it to make some sort of difference to the reader. My story would probably be classed as Adventure. I want my readers to feel like they went somewhere, experienced new things and escaped into another world for a while. I have moral themes in my story as well, because I believe that whether comedy, adventure or drama, I want my story to have some kind of positive impact on the reader.