Looking for a Killer Story? Nothing Wrong With Simple

While watching Frozen on Hulu last night, a thought struck me. You don’t always need an elaborate or complex plot when you’re writing fiction or making a movie.

The plot of the 2010 horror movie (it’s not the one with the Disney princesses) is simple—three college students are trapped on a chairlift just as a storm breaks. It’s night, nobody else is around and the ski resort has shut down for the next few days because of the storm. They’re dangling above the snow and it’s very, very cold. If that’s not bad enough, hungry wolves start appearing.

Photo: Pixabay.com
Implausible? Perhaps, but the movie had tension, fear and excitement. Even hope. You even liked the characters.

As a writer, I’m perpetually on the lookout for something that might make a good story. The movie demonstrates that you don’t always need weeks of research or endless plotting to deliver something entertaining and interesting (although accuracy is always nice, and character development is paramount).

There are plenty of examples in popular and literary fiction. I’m a fan of best-selling horror and suspense novelist Dean Koontz. I liked his book Darkfall, which basically features demonic creatures pursuing a New York City detective around the city during a terrible blizzard.

Or how about British writer Anita Brookner’s Hotel du Lac? In the novel, a romance novelist escapes her own complicated love life by fleeing to a hotel on the shores of Lake Geneva. She meets many interesting people while there.

Guess what? Hotel du Lac won Britain’s Booker Prize in 1984. The award recognizes the best English-language novel published in the United Kingdom or Ireland. There was even a TV movie based on Brookner’s book.

To put it simply: simple can be good.


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