Why this story, now?

Another question you’re likely to be asked is why this story now?

This question is asked because audiences (and commissioners) like to find reasons why a particular story has relevance in these (ever-changing) worlds (in which we live in – sorry Paul). Why should this matter when many tales are themselves timeless?

In fact, because all audiences use stories to make sense of their own lives, there will always be two issues of timeliness being considered, turned over, criticised even, in the back of their minds.

1. Speaking of our lives

Firstly, what does this story say about our lives now? Even if the piece is set in the seventeenth century, there are bound to be themes that resonate today. To unpack that example, attitudes to race, gender and nationality were probably wildly different to those of today – but have the worst connotations of those really dissipated? Quite possibly not. By throwing them into the spotlight, you say something that is bang up to date about our modern world. And that is attractive to modern audiences. It offers what is called a fresh perspective.

I am not advocating you shoe-horn hot topics into your story, but they do make it more interesting.

Use a theme!

If you have read the section on universal Themes and used these in coming up with your story, you will almost certainly be dealing with a story about either Survival, Money, Justice, Power, Glory, Self-awareness or Love – all of which are still absolutely integral parts of our lives today. Is there any one of these themes that we think modern society has sorted and fully understands? No way! So if you are embedding one of these at the heart of your story, you already have an answer – your story looks at aspects of [insert your theme[ which is relevant today.

Bring up your surprising nugget of truth

Hopefully in your research you came across a surprising nugget of truth. Does this have a parallel with our modern world? Either in similarity or in contrast? Perhaps you might think about making that distinction clearer (either increasing the parallels or increasing the contrast).

2. Using modern story language

The second way your story can be relevant to now is in its telling. As consumers of books and tv and film we are all aware how trends change, how ways of telling stories can differ. The more you read and watch the more you’ll become aware of these changes. Flashbacks, dream sequences are out, split-time narratives, modern language and attitudes in historical settings are in. Your story could be told in a pleasingly modern way, or even an avant garde way, breaking the mould and toying with convention. Be aware of what ways stories are being told in and ONLY IF IT WORKS FOR YOUR STORY you might want to break some rules or use some modern conventions yourself. But I think everyone would agree – don’t do it just for the sake of it!

Leave Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *