For this week's Story Review, I picked Prince of Persia, now out starring Jake Gyllenhal and Ben Kingsley.
First of all, I liked the movie. Not as much as Robin Hood, which I haven't reviewed yet, but still, it was enjoyable. The acting was good, but the storyline is what I want to touch on today, specifically, throwing up ROADBLOCKS.
In my story (which I just finished editing and sent back to Special Agent CB - YIPPEE), one of the notes I got from CB was that the "suspense" wasn't there in certain parts. What did she mean by "suspense"? I think she meant that the journey was too easy.
No one wants to read about an easy journey. Case in point - my fire scene, when the two escape a burning down barn and race off to their next destination. Not bad, but as soon as they get out, they're at the next destination. That's not fun! So I threw in a horse chase (I'd say car chase, but this is the 18th century). An obstacle to getting to their next destination.
PRINCE OF PERSIA, I thought, did this incredibly well. Just when you thought all would be right, something else happens. The hero has to go through a number of obstacles to get what he wants, and at every point that you think he's got something licked, something else comes along. I won't give it all away, because there are some good twists, but overall these obstacles gave the film a good Saturday Afternoon at the Movies feel - ya know, the kind you used to experience as a kid, when you're never quite sure (even though you are) if the good guy's gonna make it?
I recommend the film, just to count how many times the good guy makes it through another hurdle.
Now, for the CAUTIONARY part. Too many obstacles with obscenely impossible resolutions will turn the audience off entirely. Believability, especially as it relates to the story, must be maintained. Case in point is the film 2012. Watch it if you dare. In it, you'll see John Cusak's character overcome impossible obstacles time and time again. Leaving you with a feeling of "no way could that happen." Obstacles must be logical, believable, and resolvable.
So review your script - are there enough obstacles for your hero to overcome? Does the bad guy actually look like he MIGHT WIN!? Am I holding my breath waiting for a resolution? If not, kick it up. Set a goal for your hero, and then throw everything you can at him to keep him from reaching it. When he does, the reader (and you!) will be very relieved, and quite satisfied.
Until next time - Stay positive!