What is the Overall Story Problem?

What is the source of the central problem that affects all your characters in the story?

As an author you will want to know what drives your Main Character. Selecting the Main Character problem determines the nature of this drive. Choose the item(s) that best describes this issue. Main Character Problem: the source of The Main Character's motivation; the source of the Main Character's problems.

Without motivation - without a Problem - there is no inequity that spurs the Main Character to better his lot. Sometimes it may seem that Problems exist in our environment. Other times, we may perceive a Problem with ourselves: the way we act or feel. In truth, Problems really exist between ourselves and our environment as an inequity between the two.

As example, we may hang on to our desires, even though it causes trouble around us. Conversely, a whole situation might be faltering because of one stubborn individual. These are really two ways of looking at the same inequity. One casts the Problem in the environment, the other places it in the person. So when we look at the Main Character's Problem, we are really looking at the inequity of the story at large as it is reflected in the Main Character.

The relative importance of knowing the underlying Overall Story Problem varies depending on the choices you have made about Main Character and Plot. Once again, it is a matter of emphasis rather than elimination. In some stories, the Problem will be the key to determining how you will approach the Storytelling illustrations, while in others it will seem less relevant to the story's thematic progression.

In the case of Jurassic Park, the Problem is more essential than the Thematic Range to the storyline. Within the Issue of Fate, the story explores the imbalance between Chaos and Order. But its message is felt as an underlying sensation rather than a constant point of focus as the primary characters try to save themselves by containing the huge dinosaurs within the park's electric fences.

Examples of Overall Story Problems:

  • A Doll's House--Awareness
  • Being There--Chaos
  • Barefoot in the Park--Control
  • Body Heat--Pursuit
  • Chinatown--Desire
  • Four Weddings and a Funeral--Disbelief
  • The Fugitive--Help
  • The Glass Menagerie--Pursuit
  • The Great Gatsby--Faith
  • Hamlet--Thought
  • In the Line of Fire--Trust
  • Jurassic Park--Order
  • The Verdict--Disbelief
  • Who's Afraid of Virgina Woolf?--Order

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