In college, I remember falling in love with Harry Potter. Due in part largely to the movies since I discovered the books much later. I remember always feeling eager to move on. Then when that part was over, I had to find something else to sustain me until the next book or movie came out. But what is it that sustains us? Or drives us to be one with the characters. To feel as if we too are a part of the frame. In essence, what keeps us yearning for more?
It could be the overall story and the story world, but to a great extent I think like with anything else it all starts with character. There stands Harry Potter with his books. There stands the Dursleys busy going about their business, while Harry with his oversized glasses is forced to stay in the room beneath the stairs until a letter arrives summoning him to a magical school called Hogwarts where he will find friends he would otherwise have never known.
Maybe it is the child in us, in search of an adventure who presses the covers open wider and dares to take a look. Or maybe it is the adult in need of some reprieve who also yearns to be taken on some adventure. Yet even if we are drawn there or taken kicking and screaming like Kathleen Turner in Romancing the Stone, eventually that is where we will land.
In that strange kingdom (e.g Dorothy and Toto – the Wizard of Oz). We are drawn to the things that frighten, surprise, amuse and intrigue us. A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Bram Stoker’s Dracula. We are drawn in by the story world and the cast of characters and the problems that are to be overcome.
For what is the hero without a problem? Or quest? Or journey? Think of Luke Skywalker on his quest to rescue Princess Leia, become a Jedi and defeat Darth Vader. The Jedi. Series give us people fighting for things. Trying to overcome some disaster. Or running away from some burden or hurdle. Either way, we are intrigued. Something moves in us and as such we follow.
Like the pied piper leading away the rats. Or children. The Pied Piper of Hamelin. We too are led away by the storyteller. Writer. Director. Producer.
So are you crafting a good story? Are you being interesting and intriguing and suspenseful? Write with the reader in mind. Be vivid in your portrayals of the world and adept in your creation of characters and their emotions. Show the things that they encounter. Draw the reader in as you want to be drawn in and only pull back when you are ready to leave them. Then bid them farewell. Adieu. Until the next book or story or world…