Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Our Three Problems

I was listening to an interview with a writer the other day and he said that, whenever he teaches a writer's workshop with kids, he always tells them about "The Big Three Problems."

That is, he says that every story – every main character in every story, really – needs to face three different kinds of problems. The first kind is the BIG problem. The outside situation like saving the world or escaping the enemy or finding the lost treasure.

The second kind is the RELATIONSHIP problem. Everyone has to deal with other people, and in a story, the way people get along has to be challenged, has to change. You see this in a big way when it comes to love stories.

The third kind is the INNER DEMONS problem. We all have them, and in a good story, the main characters must face them if they are to change as people.

Leave out any of these problems and the story goes flat. I know. I've written enough flat stories. But put them in, and you have – life.

That's right, the reason these three big problems are important to stories is because they are important to life. We all have them and when we face them as the challenges they are, we grow as human beings. Life becomes fuller, more meaningful, the way, I dare say, that God intended.

Run away from those problems, however, and we become as flat as badly written novel.