What really sustains an audience over hundreds of hours is character complexity as it is revealed and changed.*
Robert McKee writes that the emotional interest of an audience is held by character revelation and change. He may be thinking about the kind of TV drama that continues through hundred of episodes, but he could be pointing to what makes for an enriching life over decades:
Plotting is obviously important, but only to hold the characters up and keep the world around them in suspense. What really sustains an audience over hundreds of hours is character complexity as it is revealed and changed.*
The story happening out there is always important, but even more important is the story happening inside here. How are we growing and developing in response to what is happening to around and to us?
This prompts a third story, the one happening between the inside here and the outside there where we bring the power of our curiosity, imagination and creativity to bear:
Craft, as you may know, comes from the German word Kraft, meaning power or strength. As Emerson said, the law is: “Do the things, and you shall have power. But they who do to the thing, have no the powers.**
(*From Robert McKee‘s email: How to Hook and Hold a TV Audience.)
(**From M. C. Richards’ Centering.)