The more complex a system is, the easier it is to get creatively blocked.
That’s why I like Jerry Cleaver’s approach to a story:
conflict (want + obstacle) + action + resolution = story
(+ showing + emotion)
William Packard has a similar set of principles:
- Drama is action.
- Character is action.
- Actions and characters should both be expressed through vivid onstage visuals.
- Actions and characters run into obstacles.
- The greatness of any action depends on how much is at stake.
Complexity also creeps into our scenes, beats, and sentences. Often when we struggle, it’s because we are trying to make them do too much.
The most straightforward approach is to ask: what is this one thing about?
Once you understand that, it’s easy to strip it down and break it into smaller parts. It will help clarify your writing and your thinking.