When you read a novel or watch a movie that you really like, it can be difficult to think about why you really like it. You have the experience of having met some interesting people, and going on a great adventure with them.
The changes those people go through in the course of the story seem natural, just as such changes would be in real life. It all seems so simple and reasonable.
But when you read a bad novel, or watch a bad movie (like the one I discussed here the other day), you realize that crafting a good story is a serious skill. Characters don’t just magically appear and develop — they need to be constructed.
The better the story and its character arcs, the less you notice the handiwork of the artist. It is only when a story fails, when you see a lack of good character development, that the artistry behind good stories becomes clear.
This reminds me of something that Steven Spielberg said many years ago: “The best special effects are the ones you don’t see.”
How much more true this is of creating good stories and characters!