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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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Hannibal Lecter and Buffallo Bill: Three Qualities of Great Villains

I read Silence of the Lambs for the first time and finished it last week. I went on to watch the movie, noted all the differences, disappointments and improvements (like a good writer) and then continued on with my life.

And yet something stuck with me.

Both the movie and book versions–and from this point onward, I won’t differentiate–did something that is incredibly difficult to do.

They created not one, but TWO of the most memorable villains in modern entertainment. (more…)

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