It’s A Story, Not Just A List of Stuff That Happens

[South Park’s Trey Parker and Matt Stone] revealed that although they brainstorm and develop individual funny scenes, the key to turning those scenes into an actual story is in making sure that each scene causes the next scene to occur.

…[they] developed a very simple litmus test for determining whether they had achieved the desired causation between scenes, by seeing whether one of two words could be inserted between each scene:

“Therefore” or “but”

via Writer Unboxed » Story Lessons from South Park.

This seems like a wonderful lesson for short story writers.

We don’t tend to think in scenes (especially in a first draft), but applying this test to your story revisions, will make the difference between it being ‘a bunch of stuff that happens’ and ‘an actual story that pulls readers from the first word to the last and leaves them daydreaming about your characters later’.

Key point: as you revise (or draft) your short story, think about everything that happens and whether each is linked by a ‘therefore’ or a ‘but’.

Read the source article for four more lessons on storytelling from South Park.

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