Storytelling lessons learned from Tron

Now, I love Tron, but let’s be honest, the original movie had some issues.

There was nothing at stake, there was hardly any conflict, the characters were flat, and the pacing was all wrong. These are very common problems, so I decided rather than turning away without giving the movie more thought, I want to learn from it.

So, here are a few storytelling tips I gathered from the movie Tron.

1. Conflict & Stakes

I bet you’ve been told a million times how important stakes are. Stakes create and/or encourage the conflict, they keep readers interested, and help characters grow. It can be something as big as saving the human race or getting to class on time. They don’t exactly have to be high, just as long as they add tension.

This is where the movie failed the most. There was nothing at stake, there was nothing that drove the characters to save the grid. This caused the conflict to seem unimportant.

2. Character arcs

There is nothing wrong with flat character arcs. Sometimes a character doesn’t need to have an arc but this is rare. I talked a little about the importance of character arcs in my last post. I believe I said you need to be sure that your character’s arc benefits both him and the story in some way.

But that wasn’t the only problem with the characters in Tron. The fast pacing didn’t give us (the viewers) a chance to get to know these characters. This is a common problem, and I see it all the time. As a novelist, I think this part is a lot harder to screw up than it is for screenwriters, but it is still something we need to be cautious about. If the readers (or viewers) don’t get to properly know the character and have sympathy for them the character arc doesn’t matter.

3. Pacing

Pacing is such a difficult subject to correct. I have only just grasped the concept as I realized many of my projects were too quick paced. I find that it’s the small scenes that build-up to the climax the hardest to remember, lol.

So what I like to do is layout my scenes. I know what you pantsers are thinking, but hear me out. Try to identify which scenes are important. Which scenes can your story benefit from adding and which ones only slow it down?

I completely pantsed my first novel, (which was never finished), and I ended up realizing that everything was going too fast, and I wouldn’t have enough material to even consider it a novel. So I took a step back and laid out all my scenes and chapters. Writing more descriptions can also help to slow things down (when used in the right way of course).

4. Taking risks

Tron, which was released in 1982, portrayed a world with advanced technology. Who knew decades later, they would be right. Though at the time the idea seemed unbelievable and unwelcomed. The writer and director of this film, Steven Lisberger, took a great risk when he released this film, and even though it wasn’t appreciated during its time, it is a monumental movie and one of my all-time favorites.

Many author’s words of advice would be “write what you want to write.” Write about what inspires you rather than what’s trending. No one ever achieved greatness by playing it safe.


Thanks so much for reading I hope you enjoyed this post and learned a great deal from it!

Thanks a bunch!

— Nerd

2 thoughts on “Storytelling lessons learned from Tron

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