Every Story is About Resolving a Problem From the Past

It’s easy to come up with an idea for a story. However, it’s hard to turn that idea into a complete story. Most often, writers start with an idea, have no idea where to go, and either give up or combine multiple ideas until the whole story becomes a jumbled mess.

The trick is to focus on your hero’s past because resolving the painful past is what your story is really all about. In “The Heat,” an FBI agent who’s good at her job but often a bit arrogant at making her fellow FBI agents look bad, is mostly a loner because she can’t get along with others.

The real problem is that she grew up as a foster kid and is over compensating for her past by excelling as an FBI agent. So although “The Heat” appears to be a story about a stuck up FBI agent working with a down to earth Boston cop, the real story is about how this FBI agent can learn to become friends with this Boston cop. All the action involving finding the leader of a drug ring is simply a way for her to learn to become friends with the Boston cop.

The Boston cop has her own haunted past. She put her own brother in prison to protect him and now he’s trying to get back working with the drug ring again. Because this Boston cop put her own brother in prison, her whole family hates her.

So the hero, an FBI agent, is lonely because she can’t get along with others while her mentor, the Boston cop, is also alone because her family won’t forgive her for putting her own brother in prison for his own good to get him off the streets where he would likely get killed working for the drug ring.

Where most writers go wrong is they try to come up with an interesting plot, but if they have no idea what haunted past their hero is trying to resolve, they’ll likely create a plot that doesn’t help resolve the hero’s haunted past. That means the action may be interesting, but ultimately it’s meaningless.

So make sure you know what your hero’s haunted past is because resolving that traumatic past is really what your story is all about.

Sign up to take a FREE course about how to write scenes in a screenplay.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.