Hunger Games, Great British Sewing Bee and your Creativity

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.

Great British Sewing Bee Recipe 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:

  1. Enough ‘small’ questions and answers scattered throughout the story.
  2. A ‘big’ question that isn’t answered until the end.

However…

  • 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:

  1. 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?
  2. 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 questionCan 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?

10 thoughts on “Hunger Games, Great British Sewing Bee and your Creativity

  1. V. Kathryn Evans

    Oh yes! I recognise this – am having character dithers at the moment and the temptation to follow the easy path is bright and shining and yet, I’m pretty sure, I’ll have a better book if I follow the dark and difficult path…better get my torch out then!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Really interesting post. You’re right. It’s all about balance. I guess at the beginning of a project (in my case writing – never sewing!) you can get overwhelmed. Perhaps by thinking the project through step by step before you start (plotting?) you find the right balance between easy and impossibly hard. That way you can keep your interest and your determination going, and challenge yourself along the way.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What a brilliant post! I like your recipe for the TV programmes its very true.

    I agree that we all have questions in our heads it keeps me turning pages in a book but had not thought about it in this way before. It is certainly a good structure for storytelling – I used to get too tied up with the characters rather than stepping back considering a reader’s needs. Excellent advice, thanks.

    Like

  4. You ask such interesting questions. The last 3 months I really challenged myself by deciding to learn to blog. I am not technical, and at the beginning it was really hard for me. I still am patiently figuring things out. Very patiently. Lately, I’ve been wanting to incorporate visual arts (drawing, painting) back into my life. It’s hard to start a project that will offer the right degree of challenge. My brain is so focused on blogging and on a writing project ( plus work and family). The art task I start with needs to strike the right balance to get me going. Very insightful Bekki.

    Like

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