“The Storyteller lives in a dark place, the storyteller lives in the urges that people don’t want to talk about.” -Joss Whedon
Joss Whedon is the creator of Buffy, Firefly, Dr. Horrible and most recently Dollhouse. He is a man who has established a massive cult following.
In the clip above he describes the dark places that storytellers sometimes go to find their inspiration. It’s a strong element of a wider point, that great storytelling means finding the truth buried in the tale. For Joss, when making Dollhouse, his truth was that those things we hide away from may not need to be hidden after all. In a story like Pixar’s Up, the truth is that love can transcend obsession if we let it.
Each of these stories arrive at their truths in wildly different ways but what binds them is that they seek to illustrate a point, to reward the audiences patience with the satisfaction of learning something about themselves through the characters.
Whether your story is a 10 line fable or a major motion movie, decide what truth you are trying to relate. Go into your own dark place and see where your story was born and build it with that knowledge in toe. Some of the best stories are personal stories, not necessarily about us directly, but illustrations of some truth that we need to know.
Here is a look at Firefly and Dr. Horrible, two other stories that Joss has worked on.