Make It Fun, Then Make It Logical

Ideally, you want to make your story as logical as possible. Unfortunately, completely logical stories can often get extremely boring. Hollywood once made a movie called “The Hanoi Hilton,” which was about the experiences of American soldiers taken prisoner during the Vietnam War. Unfortunately, the story followed the actual facts of the real life stories of the prisoners, which resulted in a completely boring movie.

When telling a story, you always have a choice between making it logical or making it fun. Choose to make it fun over making it logical.

Of course, you want your story to be logical and fun, but sometimes you have to skip ahead for dramatic effect. In “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” Indiana Jones climbs on the outside of a German submarine. The next scene shows him hiding inside a secret Nazi submarine port. How did he get from clinging to the outside of a submarine (that would presumably submerge) to sneaking inside a Nazi submarine port without anyone seeing him? That’s not logical, but to actually show him doing that would also be boring. It made for a stronger story for Indiana Jones to cling to a submarine and then skip ahead to him hiding in the submarine port without being detected. It’s not logical, but it does move the story along.

In the original “Total Recall,” there’s a scene where the hero tries to sneak into Mars by dressing as a woman. It turns out his disguise is actually a robotic exoskeleton where the head is a bomb. How did the hero get such a sophisticated disguise with an explosive in the head? It’s not logical that the hero has this, but it makes for a far more interesting story than explaining every little detail.

To maintain the audience’s suspension of disbelief, don’t make too many illogical leaps between scenes. One or two may be fine, but too many in a row suddenly makes the story choppy where the illogical leaps of faith become more apparent and more annoying.

Remember, your goal is to entertain first and be as logical as possible second. If you’re too illogical, you risk losing the audience. If you’re too logical, you risk boring the audience. Take a stance somewhere in between and always make sure you’re entertaining the audience. Make it fun, then make it logical. Audiences will forgive lapses of logic on occasion, but they’ll never forgive a boring movie.

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