In story design, what matters most? Action or reaction?
“In story, as in life, the number of different events that can happen to a human being is limited. You win or lose; you fall in love or out; you suffer injustice or get revenge; you become a better person or worse, you live or you die. The list of actions that might impact a character’s life is long… but finite. Reactions, however, are infinite. Ideally, every character is a unique, a one-of-a-kind combination of genes and experience. Therefore, how a particular character reacts to the events of his or her life is unique to him or her. Because reactions are character-specific, their possibilities are endless. More than any other aspect of storytelling, how you handle your characters’ reactions spells the difference between originality and cliche, between good writing and great. Fill your story with beautifully told events, then put your energies, imaginings, and improvisations into reactions that are true only for your characters and no one else.”
– Robert McKee, May 2014
Bonus Storylogue Video Lesson
Looking for more insight into how to go about writing true reactions for your characters? We have opened up the Storylogue video archives to bring you Part 8 of Robert McKee’s lesson series on “The Creation of Characters.”