6 Examples of Lazy Storytelling to Avoid

“It’s A Superhero Movie” is not an excuse for bad storytelling

Image for post
Image for post
This review by Chris Stuckman makes all excellent points about WW84’s issues.
  • It’s supposed to be silly and unbelievable
  • It’s supposed to be campy
  • We don’t have to understand her powers

1. Breaking the rules (or having no rules)

In every world you create, that world should have rules. If you don’t establish any rules, or worse, establish some, then break them, it’s annoying to the audience and is just lazy. One of the biggest issues I had with WW84 is that end of the movie she exhibits a particular ability that it has never heretofore been established. I don’t mind if a superhero has certain abilities, but if they’ve never had that ability before, and all of a sudden they have it, you damn well better give me a good explanation. There was none given in WW84.

Image for post
Image for post

2. Contrivances

Contrivances are when something far-fetched, ridiculous, or highly unrealistic happens in your story, without any well-established rhyme or reason, other than because the plot needs it to happen. For example, C3P0 in Rise of Skywalker not being able to utter the language of the Sith, allowing him to decipher the map dagger-so why the hell would he be programmed with that ability in the first place? It’s there because the plot needed it to be that way. (But don’t get me started on “Rise of Skywalker. I’m exhausted complaining about it.)

3. Wishes suck!

Whenever you have a story based on someone having the power to grant wishes, you’re on shaky ground of very lazy storytelling. If you establish some kind of rules in your world, it’s not so bad. Something like in Aladdin, where you can’t wish for more wishes, or make someone fall in love with you, etc.) In this case, this wishing power seems all powerful (turning Kristen Wiig’s character into a bad reject from the Cats movie, and building walls out of nowhere. But for some reason, when the wishing power brings Steve Trevor back to life, it has to be in the body of another man? And let’s not get into the fact that Diana, who is supposed to be a higher being with boundless empathy, has zero issue with commandeering this other man’s body just to be with her lover. Going so far as to put him in danger of being shot and blown up. And not once is the issue ever raised.

4. No stakes

If there are no stakes in the proverbial game, the audience can’t get invested. WW84 does not suffer from this particular storytelling issue. But the audience needs to get invested in your story. There needs to be a sense that something big and important is at stake. Even though I said I was exhausted with Rise of Skywalker, let me return to that god-awful movie.

  • Kylo Re was stabbed. Rey brings him back to life.
  • Luke’s lightsaber was destroyed. It is “magically” bright back into existence.
  • C3P0’s memory has to be dumped so that he can read the aforementioned Sith dagger; R2D2 can just download him again.
  • And the grand daddy of them all (pun intended), the Emperor is brought back as the main baddie, despite the fact that he was blown up in a reactor at the end of Return of the Jedi, and then blown up AGAIN when the Death Star II was blow up.

5. Superfluous Exposition

There’s a common saying in the film world: “Don’t tell it. Show it.” It’s a hallmark of lazy storytelling to utilize some form of verbal exposition to communicate some aspect of a story, as opposed to letting the audience figure it out on their own based on the writing and direction. I don’t necessarily think this is an issue that WW84 suffered from, but it’s an aspect of lazy storytelling worth addressing.

6. Poor Character Development

Last, and certainly not least, is poor character development. This is when a character is not fully fleshed out. It can manifest itself in any number of ways:

  • We don’t get to really know them
  • Their interactions with other characters (particularly other main characters with whom they have a relationship), seem contrived or shallow
Image for post
Image for post

Written by

Content marketer @ bladeronner.media. Satirical author @ DnDBook.com. Opinions my own & (mostly) correct. Get free insights & inspiration @ bit.ly/substack-ron

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store