I don't have my 8 elements - does this matter?
Question: I have an idea for a story, the main characters and background characters, and I have my goal(s) but I don't have any of the other elements, consequence etc. Does this matter? I'm finding it hard to think if a consequence to be honest!Answer:
Of the 8 elements, the first four are the most important: Goal, Consequence, Requirements, and Forewarnings.
The value of having a consequence is that the goal can seem rather unimportant otherwise. It's the tension between goal and consequence that creates drama.
For instance, if a person's goal is to be successful, that might not matter unless they had a fear of poverty, or of disappointing their parents, or of not keeping pace with their friends. If there were no consequence, why bother going through all the stress and effort? If there were no possibility of failure, success would be meaningless.
Similarly, people look for love to avoid being lonely. They fight wars to save their communities from destruction. They seek enlightenment to avoid misery, etc. Consequences make the goal worth attaining.
The value of Requirements is that they provide a way to see or measure progress. How do you know if a character is getting closer to the goal or if he's just wasting his time? You know progress has been made when one or more of the requirements have been met.
Likewise, Forewarnings create tension by providing evidence that the goal might not be reached, that the consequence may result instead. They suggest that the characters may not be on the right track.
Alternating between requirements and forewarnings creates the emotional roller coaster that keeps readers anxious to find out what happens next.
Leave out these four elements, and you risk creating a story that is emotionally flat and unengaging.