I have just had the most brilliant day lecturing (at university, not just random treatises around the place) and had to share possibly my favourite student response to a question yet.
Today's session was about plot. I teach this by going through The Ten Questions that I was taught when I did a BBC shadow scheme a couple of years ago. These create a very useful scaffold to build a story, and centre on establishing what a character wants, what they need and whether they achieve either, both, or neither. To illustrate the point, we examined the films Toy Story and The Shawshank Redemption, analysing what the protagonists of both films want and need.
Having dealt with Woody in Toy Story, we discussed what Andy Duphraine wanted in Shawshank. They correctly identified that while initially he wants to assert his innocence, ultimately he wants his freedom. So we moved on to what he needs. The answer I was looking for was 'survival' so that we could establish this most basic of human impulses as a motor for plot, But instead, I faced my class as a hand shot up at the back when I asked, 'so what does Andy Duphraine need?' The answer?
'A bigger hammer.'