Nothing exists in a vacuum in the universe. Everything is inter connected with each other. Everything is inter dependent. If not, the universe expels it.
This mantra also applies to efficient storytelling.
Every story element (characters, plot, dialogue and action) should bear some relationship to the main story narrative. Each element must either be a cause or have an effect on the main character’s actions. If not, it should probably be edited out.
It may sound obvious, but I’m reading too many scripts where I can’t follow the story. Sure, I can follow the action and what’s going on, but I can’t always place it in the superstructure of the story. Sometimes, I can’t even understand the action as a self contained piece let alone as a logical moment in the progression of the story.
I want to focus on the inter connectivity of characters because I’m reading too many scripts where certain characters are inserted as a bona fide plot devices or simply because they are appealing to the writer as a stand alone character. This doesn’t make them essential to the story.
This is different to non essential characters which occurs when several characters perform the same dramatic function. Disconnected characters don’t serve the story in any material sense. They are duplicates.
Not every character must connect which each other, but every character must connect to the main character, either by helping them approach or detract from their story goal. If not, they serve as a non-essential distraction to your story engine.
Let’s use a metaphor to illustrate.
Imagine your story as a closed ecosystem such as a family. Think of the household as the nucleus and the family members are satellites revolving around it.
Everyone has a skill. Everyone has a role. Everyone has a purpose. If a family member isn’t contributing to the maintenance of the household, they upset the family dynamics and the entire household.
There must also be a balance of roles. Although the breadwinners may not be in constant contact with the chefs or cleaners, they must be aware of each other’s role in servicing the household.
Imagine if a chimney sweep entered the household. There is no chimney in the house and the chimney sweep has no other skills to service the household.
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