There’s something wrong with your short film; no matter how many exciting sequences you put into it, there’s still something the story is lacking. And when you look at the stories like Romeo and Juliet and A Christmas Carol, you’re amazed at how long they have stood the test of time. Why do millions flock to hear variations of these cherished classics over and over instead of the seemingly entertaining eye candy? What do these masterpieces have that you are obviously lacking??
Before we can answer that, we must look at the purpose of telling a story. Whether we realize it or not, we tell each other stories in order to teach a lesson we’ve learned. These are not the lessons you’ve been taught in school for an exam; they are what you have experienced along the path of life, and the ones that you must share with someone down the road so that they know ahead of time. As acclaimed writer Will Eisner says:
“The story form is a vehicle for conveying information in an easily absorbed manner. It can relate abstract ideas, sciences, or unfamiliar concepts by the analogous use of familiar forms of phenomenon.”¹
So, how does that help us answer our question? Well, what separates these beloved stories from the mindless eye candy is that they address solutions to the moral problems anyone of a given background face on a daily basis; Charles Dickens’ timeless tale focuses on the importance of being charitable and kind to those who are less fortunate, while William Shakespeare’s enduring tragedy addresses the struggle between true love and the discrimination that society constantly faces. Thus, by focusing more on messages that are comprehensible and widely accepted, your story has a better chance of reaching a wider audience and stand among the giants as a classic.
Can you think of any other stories that have stood the test of time? Write it’s title, along with it’s lesson, in the comments section below. See you all next week
1. Eisner, Will. Graphic Storytelling and Visual Narrative: Principles and Practices from the Legendary Cartoonist. New York: W.W. Norton, 2008. Print.