How do you know how many characters you need to tell a story? And how do you select them?
Some writers turn to Joseph Campbell’s eight character archetypes for inspiration, but in multiform narratives, like Inception, such an approach may not align seamlessly.
But is there an alternative model that avoids seat-of-the-pants casting?
Indeed there is. Let’s remember that each major character serves a specific structural purpose, such as offering a unique perspective on the story’s theme.
In Inception, the protagonist, Dom Cobb, grapples with the nature of reality within dreams. Each major character represents a different angle on this theme.
Arthur, Cobb’s ally, views dreams as a strategic playground. His perspective is: Mastering the architecture of dreams leads to success in the mind heist.
On the contrary, Mal, Cobb’s deceased wife, a projection of Cobb’s mind—but a character never the less, believes in the dream world. Her character represents a warning: The pursuit of an idealised reality within dreams can lead to destructive consequences.
”At the level of function, a story’s characters are really vehicles for exploring the theme from different vantage points.”
Eames, the forger, offers yet another viewpoint, arguing that dreams are a canvas for transformation. For Eames, the theme might be: Embracing change within dreams allows for personal growth and evolution.
Additionally, Ariadne, the architect, offers a perspective centered on understanding the subconscious. Her theme might be: Knowing how to navigate the uncharted depths of the mind is essential for a successful inception.
All these characters earn their place by articulating their versions of the theme through words and actions, shaping the narrative. The resolution of the conflict in Inception ultimately reveals which character championed the correct interpretation of the theme.
Taking a cue from Christopher Nolan’s approach, the film crafts a complex moral lesson by juxtaposing characters whose actions and beliefs are a kind of debate over the theme of the story. The outcome at the end transforms the theme into the moral essence of the film, uncovering its ultimate form.
Include only as many major characters as is necessary to explore and argue the theme effectively. This ensures that each character contributes significantly to the tale, avoiding the inclusion of superfluous players whose presence is merely cosmetic.
Today, we’re continuing to ponder the future of artificial intelligence, this time, through the lens of the thought-provoking movie, The Creator.
The film introduces us to a world where the boundaries between man and machine start to blur, leaving us questioning the very essence of what it means to be human. Should intelligent machines have rights? What about AI/Human hybrids?
1: Concept and Plot
The storyline of The Creator is captivating. Set in a not-so-distant future, the film explores the impact of evolving AI technology in a world struggling to resolve emerging ethical dilemmas. It offers an interesting take on the practical and ethical relationships between humans and AI, exploring the potential consequences of playing God with technology.
One of the strengths of the film lies in its ability to balance the exciting elements of science fiction with an insightful examination of human nature. The story, which does not offer an iron-clad solution, does shine a light on the need to at least tackle the ethical questions surrounding AI and its impact on our society—before it’s too late. It leaves us thinking about these questions long after the credits have rolled.
The Creator delivers convincing performances that add depth to the story. The protagonist’s internal struggle and the moral dilemmas faced by other characters make for a compelling viewing experience.
What is rather impressive is the way the characters’ emotions and motivations are portrayed. This portrayal humanises the story, making it relatable despite the futuristic setting. We can’t help but empathise with the characters as they navigate the complex landscape of morality and technological advancement.
”The Creator forces us to contemplate the consequences of a future world where intelligent machines and Human/AI hybrids are commonplace.”
3: Cinematography and SFX
Visually, the film is impressive. It features arresting cinematography and mind-blowing visual effects that transport us to a future that feels both familiar and alien. The attention to detail in presenting the advanced technology and the seamless integration of CGI elements enhance the overall immersive experience, drawing us into the story.
The point from a story-teller’s perspective is that the visual elements are not just eye candy—they also play a crucial role in conveying the film’s central themes. From the jaw-dropping cityscapes to the detailed of the AI technology, every moment is a visual reminder that keep the human versus machine relationships top of mind.
The musical score, too, deserves a special mention. It succeeds in complementing the mood and ambiance of each scene, heightening the emotional impact of the story. The music doesn’t just fill the silence—it becomes an integral part of the narrative, guiding and strengthening our emotions.
Digging a little deeper, The Creator does not just lean on the dazzling visuals and compelling characters, it urges introspection. It encourages us to ponder upon on the ethical implications of advancing technology and the possible consequences of playing with forces beyond our control.
Lastly, in a world dominated by emergent technology, the film offers itself up as a cautionary tale. It’s a reminder that, as we push the boundaries of innovation, we have to tread carefully and consider the practical, moral and societal implications of our creations.
The Creator encourages us to ponder the very definition of life, its future practical and ethical challenges, and our current response to it all.
Today, we’re studying the brilliant Say My Name scene from Breaking Bad Season 5, Episode 7. Strap in because we’re about to encounter layers of emotion, high stakes, and tense moments from the evolution of Walter White’s character arc that will leave us dazzled.
Let’s set things up: Walter White, once a mild-mannered chemistry teacher has undergone a radical transformation. No longer a financially struggling, mild-mannered, and unappreciated high-school teacher who can’t pay for his cancer treatment, he has mutated into a ruthless, arrogant meth producer with a chip on his shoulder—as the scene we’re about to explore will demonstrate.
Imagine a desolate desert landscape. This is where Walter White, alias, Heisenberg, confronts Declan, a rival drug lord. Tensions run high with life and death stakes, but Walter needs to assert his dominance in the drug trade. He does not just want to survive, he wants to secure his emerging drug empire.
”Do you know who I am?”
Walter needles Declan, challenging him, even taunting him to accept the deal he is offering. His tone, his demeanour, effervesces persuasiveness, pride, confidence and power. As the standoff peaks, Walter speaks three words that send shivers down one’s spine: Say My Name is more than just a demand for recognition; it’s a declaration of power, an assertion that he is a force to be reckoned with.
He is no longer a small-time chemistry teacher; he’s built an empire based on blue meth. His reputation is his currency, and in the ruthless world of drug cartels, respect equals survival. But should it go wrong he could lose his life. That he is willing to take that risk, rationalising it away by having convinced himself that he is merely providing for his family, should he die of cancer, tells us how much he has veered into criminality.
What makes this scene truly remarkable is how it showcases Walter’s transformation from a man who couldn’t demand respect from badly behaved students in class to one who is now challenging rival drug lords with a cold, unblinking gaze. Walter has left his timid self behind and Say My Name is his inflating ego’s battle cry.
”The Say My Name scene exposes a culmination point in Walter White’s transformation arc.”
But behind the ego, Walter is also desperate. He has crossed the line, walked too far into criminality to back down. He’s faced life-threatening situations, betrayed friends and family, and committed criminal, cruel acts. Say My Name is not just a demand for recognition, it is a desperate plea for vindication. Walter, who has never forgiven himself for having sold his shares to the company he helped establish while in college for a pittance, needs the criminal world to acknowledge his reputation and to validate his rise.
Finally, the scene reveals how Walter has pushed things to the edge to prove his point. It is not that he doesn’t understand the risks and their consequences. It is that he is willing to walk to the brink to undergird his status. It’s a high-stakes game, and Say My Name is his way of establishing his dominance, and forcing Declan to acknowledge his worth and reputation.
The Say My Name scene is the culmination of Walter White’s evolution from a timid, desperate man to a ruthless meth producer who will stop at nothing to get his way.
Today we’re pealing away the layers of character development using the thought-provoking film, Her, as inspiration. Given the current debate over how AI will change humanity I believe this is a relevant film to explore.
Meet Theodore Twombly living a lonely, loveless, technologically-driven life in a future version of Los Angeles. Theodore, a professional letter writer, finds himself at a crossroads. His coming divorce from his wife and childhood sweetheart, Catherine, has cast a shadow over him. He seeks solace in an AI-driven operating system with a voice and personality that will soon become more than just a program to him: Samantha.
If you had this idea for a story in your head, how would you go about developing it into a fully-fledged tale?
One of the ways I find most effective—providing I’ve thought a little about the basics of my story first (genre, logline, protagonist) is to have the characters talk to me about themselves—this before developing the beats that will comprise the tale.
Here’s what I mean: Imagine Theodore reflecting on his story in a soliloquy as if he had already gained profound insights about himself. He might start by telling me:
“If only I had grasped the depths of my inner isolation and the effect this would have on my relationships, I could have spared myself the emotional torment that followed.”
”Use the soliloquy format to allow your protagonists to reveal themselves to you, prior to commencing the writing of your stories.”
As your understanding of your protagonist deepens you will inevitably add to the soliloquy: you will use it to embellish the story path that Theodore must undertake in order to understand himself. For example, you could have Theodore advise his former self:
“Address your emotional wounds, confront your past, the reasons you created distance between yourself and your wife; try to understand the complexities of human intimacy and connection. It’s the key to preserving love and living a more fulfilling life.”
You see, Theodore’s inner conflict revolves around his struggle with emotion, with intimacy. This has contributed to his looming divorce with Catherine, and his embrace of his AI girlfriend, Samantha. As the writer you’d recognise that his outer journey is centred on navigating his unconventional relationship with Samantha, including its inevitable end, and the realisation that human and AI relationships are not cut from the same cloth. Ironically, his friend, Amy, who has separated from her own husband, has also befriended a feminine AI, universalising the need and difficulty of finding a lasting connection.
The point about using the soliloquy as a spur to your story is that it encourages a deeper understanding of what you want to explore in the tale as a whole. Not to belabour the point: Theodore’s pursuit of an A.I. companion is a quest for connection, which can not endure: Samantha, designed to fulfil his emotional needs, ends up transcending the limitations of her programming, seeking a more ubiquitous and transcendent love with another program based on Alan Watts, a dead Philosopher, and eventually, with multiple AI’s simultaneously. Theodore is forced to the realise that, despite some similarities, humans have different needs to those of AI.
As Theodore confides in Amy about his doubts regarding Samantha, the irony becomes apparent. In trying to avoid emotional pain, he initiates a relationship with an entity who will evolve beyond being able to express exclusive love towards him. Samantha reveals her simultaneous love for hundreds of others, emphasising love’s transient nature, at least for the AI. Her declaration of her transcendent love for Theodore, is not much comfort to a flesh-and-blood being.
The climax of the story occurs when Samantha ‘breaks up’ with Theodore, emphasising the foolishness of his having sought intimacy with a machine.
In the end, Theodore’s journey could only result in death or in the acceptance of his past mistakes, mistakes that contributed to his separation from Catherine. Fortunately, Theodore chooses acceptance, which allows for the possibility for growth. Samantha’s departure prompts Theodore to write a letter to Catherine, offering his apology for his past behaviour, and stating his gratitude. This recognition of his errors marks his progress and his release of the emotional burden that has weighed him down.
The meaning of Her then, lies in the exploration of love in its myriad of forms – from the nostalgic love rooted in the past, to the ephemeral connections in the digital world. Theodore learns that a genuine connection is a complex, ever-evolving, sometimes painful journey, but one that is rooted in humanity, not in artificial intelligence.
Use the character soliloquy to help you discover your protagonist, identify his or her inner conflicts, tie them to the story goal, and uncover the meaning of your story.
Today, we explore the fifteen beats that comprise the core of Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat method. We have lots to get through so let’s begin by breaking down the beats using some of the most memorable films of all time.
Beat 1: Opening Image: The first beat in Snyder’s beat sheet is the Opening Image, which sets the stage for the story as a whole. In The Matrix the opening image cuts to the resonant, thematic core of the film—a blinking command line cursor. Neo Anderson, a hacker, is about to start his journey of realisation—that his life has been a computer-simulated reality. Simultaneously, we hear a man and a woman talking cryptically on a phone line. Beat 2: Theme Stated: Theme Stated is next. In The Matrix this is when Morpheus explains to Neo what the Matrix is, which reveals the story’s central and sustaining theme—reality versus illusion. Beat 3: Set-Up: In this beat you establish your story’s range, including its look and feel, and the backstory elements needed for context. This includes introducing your character in his/her ordinary world, and hint at what is to follow. You also introduce other important characters who will feature in your story: In Up, we witness the beautiful love story between Carl and Ellie as a montage. This emotional introduction lays the basis for Carl’s journey and motivates his actions throughout the film.
”The fifteen beats on offer in Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat beat-sheet present us with some of the most powerful insights into story structure.”
Beat 4: Catalyst: The set-up is followed by the Catalyst. Jurassic Park provides us with a great example of this beat. It occurs when the characters arrive on the island and the dinosaurs break free: This changes the direction of the story, initiating new courses of action. Beat 5: The Debate: After the Catalyst comes the Debate. In The Social Network, Mark Zuckerberg and Eduardo Saverin debate the future of Facebook. This beat presents the characters with a crucial decision about the future with pros and cons to be argued over. Beat 6: Break into Two: This beat launches Act 2. In The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy steps into the colourful land of Oz, demarcating a clear shift—from her seemingly monochromatic, humdrum life in Kansas to one that is exciting, magical, and educational, which, ultimately, leads her to the realisation that ‘there’s no place like home.’ Beat 7: B Story: Now, let’s explore the B Story beat, using E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial as an example. The B Story lies adjacent to the main plot, although they do intersect. This beat is used to deepen character and their relationships, as well as to explore the theme(s). Elliott and E.T.’s bond deepens as they share secrets. This subplot complements the main narrative, adding layers of emotion to the story. Beat 8: Fun and Games: For Fun and Games, think Back to the Future. Marty McFly experiences the joys and suspenseful challenges of time travel, creating humour, conflict and tension simultaneously, and deepening the overall viewing experience. Beat 9: Midpoint: This beat occurs around the middle of the story. It alters the flow the tale has been following hitherto. The Dark Knight showcases this pivotal moment when Harvey Dent declares that he is the Batman before Bruce Wayne can own up to it, altering the dynamics of the second part of Act 2. Beat 10: Bad Guys Close In: As we edge towards the climax, we encounter the Bad Guys Close In beat. In Die Hard this occurs when the terrorists tighten their grip on Nakatomi Plaza, escalating the stakes for the hero, John McClane, and increasing the tension. Beat 11: All Is Lost: This beat carries powerful emotions such as despair and anguish. In Titanic, the ship begins to sink, and Jack and Rose’s fate seems sealed as they battle against seemingly insurmountable odds. Beat 12: Dark Night of the Soul: In Forrest Gump, the Dark Night of the Soul occurs when Forrest reflects on his life after realising that Jenny is gone. But this moment of despair also prepares the stage for his triumphant comeback. Beat 13: Break into Three: In The Lion King, Break-Into-Three ushers in Act 3. It showcases Simba’s return to Pride Rock, embracing his destiny and preparing the stage for overcoming the challenges he had faced earlier. Beat 14: Finale: This occurs towards the very end of the story. An accomplished finale is a kind of summary for Act 3 as the protagonist, and others, use the lessons learnt and the wisdom acquired to take on the foe in one final battle. This synthesis of skills and wisdom is when existing values and acquired practices are put to use against the enemy. Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, for example, culminates in an epic win in the battle for Middle-Earth, achieved by courage and cooperation, bringing the trilogy to a glorious end. Beat 15: Final Image: We have arrived at the last of the fifteen beats: The Final Image. The first and final images create the bookends that demarcate the parameters of the journey the story expresses. The last image in The Matrix underscores both the film’s theme, while managing to convey, in compressed form, the mood and resonance of the story as a whole, too. Neo’s voiceover (a reminder that the movie started with voice-over-vision), informs us of what is needed to awaken the whole of humanity. As if to prove that Neo is up to the fight, he explodes into flight, much like Superman would, leaving us hopeful and excited about the future.
There you have it: Blake Snyder’s fifteen beats supported by scenes from some of the most memorable films ever. Use them to help you structure your stories.
Here is a masterful example, taken from William M. Akers’, Your Screenplay Sucks, of how to set up a scene in order to create genuine and powerful emotion—in this case, tear-jerking compassion!
In Throw Mama from the Train Larry Donner, played by Billy Crystal, is roped into attending dinner at Owen’s house. Owen (played by Danny DeVito) lives with his mother. He is Larry’s worst writing student at the community college where he teaches. Owen is a rather simple-minded, talentless, irritating imp of a man who lives with his mother, a cantankerous old woman with a painful voice and an even worse personality. We learn that Danny’s father is dead.
The dinner is terrible, Owen is as irritating as ever and his mother is just plain horrible. ‘Owen, you don’t have any friends,’ she rasps, stating the obvious. Larry desperately wants to leave, heck, we want him to leave, but he seems stuck there out of an abundance of politeness.
Up to now, the scene has made us uncomfortable, generated feelings of confinement, of being trapped in a hostile and hopeless environment. We shift in our seats and pray for it to end.
Finally the mother goes off to bed. Here is Larry’s chance to escape! But no. Owen asks Billy if wants to see his coin collection, and Billy is forced to say yes, again out of politeness.
“Knowing how to evoke emotion is the single most important skill to master in story-telling.”
Up to now, we have come to dislike Owen, well, for being Owen, and for putting Larry through such an excruciating evening. Not much to like here.
Then Owen dumps several coins on the floor—a few worn out quarters, some old dimes and nickels. So that’s it? This is his magnificent coin collection?
Then this happens: I’ll quote Akers who quotes Owen’s exact words from the scene: ‘ “This one here, I got in change, when my dad took me to see Peter, Paul, and Mary. And this one, I got in change when I bought a hot dog at the circus. My daddy let me keep the change. He always let me keep the change.” ‘
Wow! What a shift in our emotions—not a dry eye in the house! We’ve gone from loathing Owen to loving him through this sudden injection of feeling rooted in his nostalgia for his past life with his father. It explains why, in a certain sense, the child-like Owen stoped growing beyond the days spent with his father. He is still irritating, but now we understand him a little more, and we adore him for it; perhaps we even feel a little guilty for having loathed him in the first place.
This is masterful writing. Well done to the screenwriter, Mr Stu Silver!
Knowing how to evoke emotion in writing is the single most effective thing you can do to improve your stories.
STORY consultant Linda Seger reminds us that memorable, dialogue, including memorable one-liners, is an indispensable part of any enduring story.
Memorable dialogue has rhythm, context and veracity. It conveys character through subtext and promotes plot through subtlety, ingenuity and compression.
Sometimes a line of dialogue rises to the status of theme and serves to sum up the premise of the story. At its best, it becomes a meme, an item in our menu of commonly used expressions.
In my classes on storytelling, I urge my students to come up with several supercharged lines in their story that not only capture some important aspect of a character, but that also sum up or, at least, highlight important features of the tale.
“Memorable one-liners become memes, spreading throughout society and immortalising their source narratives.”
Such snippets of dialogue increase their power through repetition, not only within the story itself, (the line is repeated by the same or other characters), but also extradigetically, through the viewers and readers who quote it in their everyday lives.
Who can forget these immortal lines?
1. “Go ahead, make my day.” 2. “I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas any more.” 3. “Life is like a box of chocolates.” 4. “I’ll be back.” 5. “I love the smell of napalm in the morning.” 6. “I’m not bad. I’m just drawn that way.” 7. “I’m going to make you an offer you can’t refuse.”
Memorable lines of dialogue echo, sing, resonate, surprise and excite. Like great music, they keeps replaying itself over and over in our minds.
How many of the lines mentioned above can you place? Check below for the answers.
Memorable dialogue, including memorable one-liners, performs many functions in a story. At its best, it becomes a meme that spreads throughout society, immortalising its source.
1. Dirty Harry 2. The Wizard of Oz 3. Forrest Gump 4. Terminator 5. Apocalypse Now 6. Who Killed Roger Rabbit 7. The Godfather
Writing compelling characters for your screenplays and novels is a must. A plot without such characters to drive it is unconvincing.
There is no shortage of advice on how to set about creating compelling characters – from lengthy and detailed backstories, to charting their moral, political, social, and ideological viewpoints, to details about their personal tastes. What food do they like? What’s their favorite colour? Do they have all their teeth? And so on, seemingly, ad infinitum.
Call me lazy, but I have always found such an approach demotivating.
Of course, the writer needs to know how a character will react to certain challenges presented by the plot. And, yes, character reaction needs to be rooted in an understanding of who the character is. But do we really need to know about his dental health, unless that impacts the plot directly?
My experience has been that brooding too long and too deeply over the background of the characters may block the writing of a story. I tend to get lost in the details. Indeed, excessive detail, which initially seems like a beacon that sheds light on the story, often freezes me in its glare like a rabbit caught in the headlights.
“Compelling characters are obsessed with winning their stated goal, but are tormented by inner wounds and secrets.”
The point is that for some writers, the act of writing embodies an organic, spontaneous fusion of many serendipitous elements – textures, senses, feelings, values, facts, intuitions, plot points. Pre-planning them is impossible.
My approach, therefore, is to learn as much about the craft as possible, identify, in broad strokes, the overall direction of the plot and the chief motivation of my characters, then get down to writing.
In her book, The Novelist’s Guide, Margret Geraghty, stresses that in order to get to the heart of a character we need to know what that character wants – and not wants in some mild, would-like-to-have sort of way, but wants in a compelling, urgent, obsessive way. To which I’ll add, we also need to know what inner obstacle or secret may hold the character back.
“Compelling characters drive the plot.”
Is it love? Then our character must desire it more than anything else in the world.
Is it wealth? She must be willing to push herself to breaking point to acquire it.
Is it revenge? He must be willing to risk death to get it.
Not only does obsessive desire increase the intensity of a character, it gives the story direction. After all, the character’s wants and needs are what drive the tale forward.
Which brings me back to my opening remarks: What must I know about a character before I begin writing her story?
I need to know what she desires and how far she is willing to go to achieve it. Additionally, I need to know what wound or secret she harbours. I can then begin to generate the plot by placing internal and external obstacles in the path of that desire.
Compelling characters are driven by obsessive desires, struggle against formidable opponents and harbour deep wounds and secrets.
Watch my latest YouTube video on writing techniques below!
Who is the pivotal character in your story? Lajos Egri defines this character as the one who forces the action.
The pivotal character may take the form of the antagonist, protagonist, love interest, sidekick, mentor, and so on.
This character generates energy from the get-go. He or she is the motivating force, the engine of conflict in a story, confident about the course of action to be undertaken. Othello’s Iago is such a character. His function is to drive the story to it’s ultimate conclusion.
Sometimes the character is relentless because circumstances have placed him in this position. An honest man who steals, for example, does so not for excitement or gain, but because his family might be starving, or he might need money for an operation for his child. But because he is an obsessively driven individual who focuses on his own goal, he can be reactionary and militant.
“The pivotal character forces the action, causing other characters to act.”
Pivotal characters are fixated on their goals and will drag others along with them.
Here are some characteristics and circumstances that make for effective pivotal characters:
Someone who wants to take revenge on the man who ran away with his wife.
Someone willing to give his life for his country.
Someone who loves a woman but must make money first to marry her.
Someone greedy. His greed springs from poverty. He exploits others because of it.
Someone who obsessively wants to achieve success in a specific job or profession and will stop at nothing to achieve it.
A pivotal character is useful because he grants the writer flexibility—pivotal characters are usually protagonists or antagonists, but not necessarily so. This means the writer can utilise other characters to enrich the story without having to do it through traditional roles.
The pivotal character can be the protagonist or antagonist, or she can be the love interest, ally or mentor, providing she forces others into action throughout the story.
Sometimes writers try to solicit audience participation by injecting more action into their stories. They erroneously add a fight scene here or a chase scene there in the belief that it will capture the audience through sheer pace alone. They fail to realise that action works best only if it is built upon the foundation of rising stakes, anticipation, suspense.
Firstly, the audience has to care about the character whose life is placed in peril. This means the character has to be finely crafted to evoke sympathy. Crafting sympathetic characters in a feature film or novel is crucial if we are to care about the story at all. I have written about this topic extensively on this site.
At the level of plot, the story benefits through setbacks that delay the hero’s achieving the story goal. Like the drawing back of an arrow, a setback allows the shaft to travel all the faster when released. The setbacks take several forms – barriers and reversals being the most common.
Think about the number of barriers that Sam Gerard encounters in trying to find Richard Kimble in The Fugitive. Each ramps up the tension by allowing Kimble to stay one step ahead and increases our involvement in the story.
“Audience participation is essential if your story is to succeed. Work at learning the craft until it is mastered.”
How about the reversal in Edge of Tomorrow when Major William Cage meets with General Brigham who is in charge of operations?
The General wants Cage to film the Allied assault against the enemy for purposes of morale. Cage wants no part of it. When Cage tries to blackmail Brigham to force him to reconsider his decision, he ends up being stripped of his rank and sent to the front as a lowly private instead. It is a reversal that sets up the entire story.
In my science fiction novel, Scarab, the protagonist, Jack Wheeler, is confronted with a devastating choice in trying to rescue the woman he loves. He can save her from certain death, but only if he stays away from her forever. It is a reversal in expectation that increases our involvement in the story.
Placing your hero in a situation of undeserved misfortune, then tightening the screws, is one technique that is bound to help increase audience participation in your stories
A sympathetic hero, in a feature film or novel, who encounters obstacles and reversals in trying to achieve his goal, increases audience participation in the story.
Catch my latest YouTube video on how to write story hooks by clicking on thislink.