A story needs to be interesting and engaging- a story, in any form cannot leave the audience bored at any point if it wants to be successful. Therefore, there are a lot of theories as to how to make a good narrative.
One of the main theories is the three act structure-the idea that every story is divided into three, distinct parts. The first part is the Set-up, where most of the exposition about the world of the story is given and where we establish the main characters and their motives. The second part is the Confrontation, in which something disrupts the established world of the story or a series of obstacles appear for the protagonists-this is often the bulk of the story. Lastly, there is the Resolution, which resolves the conflicts of the plot, and establishes a new equilibrium in the world. A very simple version of this would be in Disney’s Snow White- in the first act, Snow White is established as a sweet innocent girl, hated by her step-mother. By the second act, she’s been attacked and runs away and begins her life with the Dwarves, while the queen plots away and puts her plan to action, eventually killing Snow White. The resolution is when the prince from the first act returns and breaks the spell, and Snow White and the Prince ride off together. However, more often now in feature length films, there is often a chain of events that happen in the second act, which all eventually lead to the resolutions in the storyline. When the Three act structure is done well, it keeps the audience entertained as well as keeping the narrative to an easily understood and followed structure, making the film easier to watch.
The story always needs to have a good set up, as a strong back story makes the narrative more believable to the audience. The resolution also has to be fulfilling, as otherwise the audience will find the film pointless. However, arguably the most important part of the story is the second act, the confrontation. A good second act keeps the audience engaged throughout, doesn’t drag on and instead only keeps building in entertainment and thrills. The actions and conflicts need to be logical- they can’t come out of nowhere- but still be surprising and exciting enough to keep the audience enthralled. A good example of a plot that keeps getting better as it goes along would be J.R.R.Tolkein’s The Hobbit. The “second arc” of The Hobbit- which technically takes up the majority of the book- is literally a series of disasters, one after another. The protagonists are constantly faced with monsters of every shape and size, incomprehensible enchantments and near death experiences. By the resolution of the book, they’ve been captured, starved, captured again and hunted after escaping, nearly burnt alive, starved to near madness, poisoned, imprisoned, trapped and outcast. Only to have to face a dragon and then a war. This keeps the reader constantly entertained and on edge as every chapter we’re faced with another obstacle for the party to overcome. Furthermore, all these obstacles are interconnected. The party angers one group, and then another and another, and eventually this comes to bite them in the behind as they face these adversaries again and again.
This leads to another key element in a good film, which is a good character. People need to be able to care about characters- they need to be cheering on for the lead, and actually feeling contempt or pure hatred for the villain. A good character makes a person feel something. Thus can be done witch a good actor, but also with creating a good backstory and sensible motivation for the character. The character needs to be like a real person- this way, real people can relate to them. A good example of this is most incarnation of Spiderman(in the comics, animated series and films), but mostly in the most recent film, The Amazing Spiderman. In this film, Peter Parker is consumed with revenge, and always has guilt of people passing away or leaving him hanging over him throughout the story. However, by the and of the film he learns to let go and instead use his powers for other people, and not selfishly. Throughout the film, we actually care aboyt Peter and also the people he loses, because we are able to see the relationships between the characters for long enough for us to be abke to relate to these relationships. Then we are also selfishly rooting for him to get revenge throughout the narrative but we also experience his learning curve and understand what he feels to make him change his mind about his motives. This is what makes the film good(among other things) and thus it’s a great example of character and character development.
Altogether, these things create a narrative that people want to pay attention to, and makes a successful story.