The goal. Not the details.

The Dead Zone (TV series) | Stephen King Wiki | Fandom

Was watching Dead Zone‘s behind-the-scene interview with Michael Piller and one remark he made lingered on.

“I want to know the goal of the story, not the details.”

On Lloyd Segan‘s blog, where he paid tribute to Michael, whom he calls “partner, mentor and cherished friend” he remembers Michael:

“Michael never wrote “bad guys” or “good guys.” His villains always had redeeming qualities. And his heroes were never pure good: they were conflicted, troubled people who were in need of second chances.”

“And his most well-known standard against which every piece of writing was to be measured: “What’s the story ABOUT?””

A look at the writers’ brief provides an interesting peek into how this guy structured his stories and lends great insights about writing and storytelling. This stands out:

In your pitches, please be prepared to tell us in the broadest strokes, the beginning, the middle and end to your story… Please don’t work out all the details of your pitch… Keep it simple. Sell us your passion for the idea.

I find this a deeply resonating view. Communication is too often lost amidst layers and layers of details. In design and advertising, over crafted details hamper initial communication objectives. In real life, squabbling over details is often the main cause of breakdowns in human relationships.

People are easily engrossed with details until they forget, cliched speaking, the big picture.

Amidst all the rushes and attempts to meet the never-ending demands of daily life, I too, many times forget what life is about.

The big life story that is unfolding.

So, what’s the story ABOUT?

That, I am not sure.