Identify People, Places, and Things

Every story needs certain people, places, and things. People represent the people the hero needs for help. In “The Karate Kid,” the hero needs a karate instructor. It would be boring if he just walked up to the karate instructor, asked for lessons, and got them.

Instead, the hero is actually repelled by the karate instructor because he thinks he’s just a handyman in the apartment building. To meet the karate instructor, the hero has to fight against the villain and his friends. Only after he’s nearly beaten to death does the karate instructor rescue him and they finally meet.

Places represent certain areas that are integral to the story. In “Little Miss Sunshine,” the hero wants to compete in a beauty pageant. That means she has to struggle to get there because if she just showed up, it would be boring.

Once the hero gets to the beauty pageant, there’s still more conflict as her own parents and relatives urge her not to compete for fear she’ll embarrass herself. Yet the hero decides to compete anyways.

So to get to any particular place, the hero needs to struggle to get there. Then there’s a struggle at that place.

Things represent objects that the hero wants. In “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” everyone’s chasing the ark so that causes plenty of conflict. Once someone gets the ark, they struggle to keep it.

In any story, there are always certain people, places, and things needed in your story. In a romance, the two heroes have to meet each other and it’s always a struggle. Think of “Sleepless in Seattle” where the man and woman are physically in different cities. Even when they finally meet, there’s a conflict as they’re trying to figure out what he other person is.

Remember, nothing should ever come easy for anyone. The more conflict, the more interesting the story.

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