Interesting vs Profound
Characters quirks and unusual events that make a story interesting don’t necessarily give it a depth. Unconventional characters or unique circumstances can grab an audience’s attention but not make a story particularly rich or profound. Alternatively, a story can be very deep and complex but uninteresting and tedious.
Jack Warner once said: “If you want to send a message, call Western Union and send a telegram.” The primary purpose of entertainment is to entertain. The most entertaining stories incorporate elements that are both interesting AND have some kind of deeper meaning. All great movies have both.
“Beware of the allure of the bizarre, a quality that may attract but ultimately fails to satisfy. For strange effects and extraordinary combinations, we must go to life itself. When you see ordinary situations with extraordinary insight it’s like discovering a jewel in the rubbish.” Stephen Kendrick, HOLY CLUES: The Gospel According to Sherlock Holmes.
Loss is the key element giving every great film meaning because loss is the one thing that transcends culture, race, religion, sex, age, social, economic or political situation. It is the one thing we all share as human beings.
We all lose the comfort and safety of the womb, lose our baby teeth, lose our innocence, lose our virginity, lose a friend or loved one through separation, death or betrayal, we face reversals of fortune, if we live long enough we lose our parents, if we live long enough we lose our children. In the end we lose our own lives. Life is made up of a series of loses, how we cope with loss is what determines our characters. How character is revealed through loss is what gives a story meaning. What does your character have to lose?