What, I hear you ask, has Great British Sewing Bee got do with Hunger Games? And what have either of them got to do with my creativity? Well, first things first,
What on earth has Great British Sewing Bee got in common with Hunger Games?
I think quite a lot.
Their plots are practically identical: Hunger Games is the story of 24 people competing for their lives. Great British Sewing Bee is the tale of 10 people competing to be named ‘Britain’s Best Sewer’.
Don’t think that’s identical, huh?
Okay, so the consequences of winning or losing differ tremendously. However both Great British Sewing Bee and Hunger Games follow the same recipe – and while we’re talking about recipes, the same goes for Bake Off.
This recipe makes both Hunger Games and Great British Sewing Bee compelling viewing for their audiences, because it raises questions. Some of these questions are unique to the contest: Will (insert any GBSB contestant name) sew the wrong pieces together? How can Katniss learn from a mentor who is a drunk? Some questions are the same for both Sewing Bee and Hunger Games: How long will they survive? Do they have the skills they need? However, the ultimate ‘Big’ question for both Great British Sewing Bee and Hunger Games is,
Who will win?
Questions are essential in gaining the audience’s attention, because once a question is raised – even just in our subconscious – we want to know the answer. The audience will stay glued by this ‘want‘ if they are satisfied by:
- Enough ‘small’ questions and answers scattered throughout the story.
- A ‘big’ question that isn’t answered until the end.
- If there are too few small questions the audience gets bored waiting for the big question to be resolved.
- If the big question is answered too soon, the audience’s attention switches off before the story is complete.
So what has this got to do with you as a creative person?
If you’re a writer who wants to create compelling stories (and why would you not?) hopefully the answer is obvious, but there’s also a second connection that applies to all creative people. Creativity thrives on a basic question…
Can I achieve this?
If a project is to keep our attention – just as with compelling stories – it must:
- Keep posing small Can I achieve this? questions that we answer as we work through. For example, Can I master this skill? Will this technique give the desired effect?
- Pose the Big question – Can I create this? – which we cannot be sure of the answer to until we have finished.
Once again if the balance is wrong out interest wanes:
- If a project is too easy, we don’t ask ourselves the Can I achieve this? questions. We also answer the Big question too quickly: Yes, we can do it! A project like this is unlikely to hold our interest for long.
- If a project is too challenging, we answer the Big question – Can I create this? – too quickly: No, we can’t! Or at least we’ve got an awful lot to learn before we can. We then give up, or do a bad job, or lose heart because we have so much to learn before we can finish,
For me this raises another Big question…
How well are my creative projects challenging me?
And what about yours?