Day 5: How Inconsistencies Make Your Story Stronger

Happy Sunday friends! I hope the first week of the new year has treated you well.

Today’s article is going to be a quick one. Partly because it’s Sunday and you likely have better things to do. But also because there’s a simple concept here that I’ve been building to with each previous article in the series.

Everything we’ve talked about so far has been about building out a comprehensive process you can use to understand your story and your characters better. And when you go through this process of listening and researching, you will undoubtedly find inconsistencies.

There will be inconsistencies between the perspectives of the multiple people you interview, between what people tell you and what your research says, between the places people inhabit and how they’ve portrayed themselves to you. Hell, there will probably be inconsistencies in individual interviews — perhaps between what someone says at the start of the interview and at the end.

Basically, if you’re doing the work and genuinely listening, you will find inconsistencies 100% of the time. That’s just the nature of working with real people and tackling complex ideas.

Now, you have two options when you come across an inconsistency:

  1. Ignore it and just move on with your story (this is what most filmmakers do, as it’s usually the easiest way forward).
  2. Use it as an opportunity to understand your story better and keep asking questions and digging deeper.

I’m sure you can already guess which option we prefer here at Muse.

We view each inconsistency we come across not as an obstacle or a burden, but as an invitation. Inconsistencies are simply road signs telling us that we don’t fully understand the story yet.

So, when we come across inconsistencies, it’s our duty to act on them and try our best to resolve them. That’s how we deepen our understanding of the story. That’s how we let the story move us before we move the story.

A quick recap on how to find inconsistencies

This might seem a bit flippant, but the best way to identify inconsistencies is to do all of the things in the first four articles of this series. Develop a process around listening that involves:

Once you start doing these things, you’ll be flooded with more inconsistencies than you know what to do with. And tomorrow, we’ll tackle how to deal with them.

Enjoy the rest of your Sunday.