The Most Important Part of a Story

I’m going to try to blog regularly, if for no other reason than to learn how to blog regularly. So here’s today’s thought on story-telling:

The most important part of a story isn’t character or setting. It’s peril. Where is the peril in your story? What is the danger? It could be big and physical like a super-villain or an asteroid heading to Earth. Or it could be small like a child nervous about giving a book report in front of the whole class, or a man nervous about asking a woman out on a date. Screenwriting books often advise writers to ┬ámake sure every scene has some form of conflict, but what this really is about is making sure every scene has some form of peril. The peril typically leads to the conflict. The peril is ideally being experienced by a sympathetic character, someone the audience cares about. And we instinctively care about characters who are…you guessed it…in peril.

About Deke

Writer and filmmaker Dale Kutzera is a recipient of the Carl Sautter Screenwriting Award, the Environmental Media Award, and participated in the Warner Brother Writers Workshop. His credits include the TV shows “Strange Frequency” and “Without a Trace” and the independent film “Military Intelligence And You!” He is the author of five novels and the popular “Plot Machine” story-structure guides. He writes about writing and filmmaking at

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