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StoryCrafting Tip #1: It doesn’t matter what the goal is, as long as there is one.

One of my favorite short stories of all time is The Swimmer by John Cheever. In it, a man living in the suburbs decides, on a hot and pleasant day, to return to his house across town. Only thing is, he doesn’t want to walk or drive–he wants to swim across his neighbors’ swimming pools.

How’s that for a simple goal? It doesn’t even sound all that interesting, until you read the story. Then you find yourself riveted to this character’s journey, which spans one of the creepiest and most fulfilling story arcs in modern literature.

My point in using this example is that it doesn’t matter what your main character’s goal is in a story. People don’t read novels and comic books and watch movies because they think the hero’s goal is unique and interesting. (more…)

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Where do writers get their ideas?

For most creative writers, the most frequent question you’ll hear is: “Where do you get your ideas?” This is especially true of prolific writers who can dash off an article or a blog post, or even a novel, with the rapidity of a Seth Godin or a Stephen King.

People ask this question for two reasons. First, the answer can say a lot of interesting things about the writer being asked. And second, non-writers don’t seem to understand the nature of the writer’s most important tool, and therefore feel compelled to solve the mystery.

(more…)

The Top 5 Reasons for the Success of The Hunger Games

Even if you’re not much of a reader or moviegoer, you’ve heard of The Hunger Games. It’s up there with Harry Potter and Twilight as one of the most successful books of the past decade. The movie has been a hit as well, having earned–at a staggering $67.3 million–the highest single day gross for a non-sequel film ever.

That’s $67.3 million in one day, folks. Better than most films do in a year. The film’s opening weekend gross, domestically, was $152.5 million, the third-largest opening weekend of all time after The Dark Knight and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part II. Not to mention the book has sold millions of copies and was translated into 26 languages.

Here are what I consider to be the five main reasons for the story’s success. (more…)

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