I had a call with a director on her short story today for the rewrite. She wanted to make sure all the elements were there, all the ambiguity was explained at the beginning.
I then said, “Look, I understand where you were coming from. But doesn’t your version sound like a beige flight safety promo video? How do you want me to feel in the end?”
So what is a (good) story? What isn’t?
The bottom line is, we want our hero to go through hell, to hurt, to lose, to experience a near death before he grows, and learns, before he gets his want, or not. No matter what the reward, he has to earn it first otherwise the audience would feel cheated. Besides, we want the surprises to keep our minds engaged. By giving us details like how we deal cards, our hearts are satisfied through working and solving the puzzles by ourselves. And when we feel what the hero feels at the very end, we finally realize that we have been manipulated by the storyteller. But like the hero, we let it happen. Because the journey is the reward.
By pinpointing her mistake, I also realize it’s the pitfall that I also tend to fall into.
As a storyteller, my job is to stir emotions. If I can’t feel it when I write it, how can I expect anything else from the audience?