A lot of people believe they can tell a great story, while some don’t think they have it in them to write more than a page filled with nonsense ideas that couldn’t challenge a third-grader. Telling a great story is a lot more difficult than people think since everything that goes into a story requires a great deal of thought that keeps them from being little more than pale shadows that people can’t believe in.
But telling a great story comes with a lot of responsibility as well since the stories we create and give to fans help to shape the world we know and give people something else to focus on. Whether people believe it or not, fictional tales are highly important to society, as the entertainment we choose to embrace can help to shape the way we look at the world and how we interact with each other. At the risk of offending anyone, myths, religion, and superstition were among the first tales told that helped people to evolve and grow.
People might not want to believe such a thing and will likely argue with it, but the truth is that without storytelling, our species might not have reached the heights that have been achieved over the years. But telling a great story can be, and is by design, rather difficult sometimes.
With that in mind, here are five reasons why telling a great story is difficult.
5. There’s usually someone who will compare your story to another
The truth is that most stories have more than a few elements in them that are inspired by other stories. The trick is to both keep from plagiarizing another story (looking at you Eragon) and to come up with something that has your own unique spin on it.
Unfortunately, there are many out there who will nitpick a story without ever seeing past the first few ideas and will therefore do what amounts to a child on the playground calling out something that others will begin to repeat verbatim in the most simple of ways, catcalling. This is why some epic stories have never been allowed to flourish, and the stories that people are comfortable with continue to thrive.
4. There are a set number of great story ideas to draw from
It might sound like an attempt to limit the number of actual ideas that are out there, but the majority of great and even epic stories can be compartmentalized into seven basic ideas.
From the Rebirth arc to the Overcoming (insert challenge here) arc, there are only so many core ideas that exist, but the great part is that thanks to the number of storytellers that are alive today and have inhabited the earth since the dawn of time, there will never be a shortage of story ideas, even if some of them might need to be dumped and retooled. But learning that there are only so many core ideas does kind of feel limiting.
3. Too many people think that writing a story is easy
To be fair, it’s not so incredibly difficult that it requires someone with a degree and a lifetime of experience. A child can write a story based on little more than imagination. But a great story is something that takes time, the ability to put every element together and to do so in a way that will prove to be attractive for a lot of people who want to hear something that will take them away for a few moments or a few hours.
A great story is something that does require a great deal of work, not to mention the understanding that there is a balance to this has to be established and held for as long as possible to make it work.
2. People’s interests change too frequently
People change their minds quite often when it comes to entertainment, and it’s a little too easy to sway folks when it comes to various ideas. The most popular franchises today make it clear that people can be distracted easily when it comes to flash, pomp, and a simple but enticing storyline that doesn’t have a great deal of depth to it.
Deeper stories that require thought and the ability to think around corners are still popular with many people, but the sad part of this is that the more a person has to think, the less likely it is that they’ll want to invest in a story unless it’s that interesting. Quick and easy stories tend to become more popular since they require less of a reader.
1. Stealing an idea is easier than many people think
Accusing a person of stealing a story is never a great idea since it requires a great deal of proof to make a cry of plagiarism stick. But if and when this does happen, and it has over the years, it not only cheapens the story and the effects it might have on society, but it indicates that morality is easily glossed over by the promise of a big payday.
It’s a big accusation, but the theft of a story, especially one that turns out to be great, is something that not only shows a decided lack of talent but a lack of respect for the craft. The saddest part is that many would suggest that this is a means to an end and doesn’t matter as much.
Anyone can tell a story, but a great story requires someone dedicated to the craft.
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