Emotional Equations – What makes a Story?

As the world looks for new models beyond linking all activity to monetary value, recently I wrote about Emotional Equations, which connect emotion and energy in measurable ways.

Today, our equation is :

C + (APQ + ED) / S

I learned this one from my friend and collaborator D’Arcy Vane, whose website has the beautiful Intent statement “SHARE KNOWLEDGE. CHANGE LIVES”, and who learned this from his friend Michael Jorgensen, filmmaker and story consultant.

D’Arcy relayed a conversation where Michael wrote the following:


I said: “what is that?”

He said: A Story.

once upon a time

Over the course of his career, he has boiled down all Stories to this simple formula which is
C= Character
APQ= Active Physical Quest
ED= Emotional Desire

In essence, a story must have a character that goes on an active physical quest that is driven by an emotional desire that has certain things at stake.”

D’Arcy reconnected a little later with Michael and gained further insight :

“There are two levels of Stakes as related to the ACTIVE PHYSICAL QUEST & the EMOTIONAL DESIRE

  1.  What are the consequences (worst things that can happen) if the APQ fails? These are external/physical consequences i.e. the character is crippled, wounded, loss of job, money, career, death, end of the physical world ;
  2. What are the consequences (worst things that can happen) if the ED fails? The ED is about the character mending their inner wound/broken heart

These are psychological and emotional consequences that can continue to perpetuate or lead to emotional slavery – most stories are a journey from emotional/psychological slavery to freedom. If the Character is unwilling or unable to fix their wounded heart or overcome their psychological weakness that can’t live and full and emotionally free life
i.e. continue to live under a false belief, fear, trust, can’t love, can’t be loved, not good enough, loss of their soul.”

Powerful stuff, and, as Michael says, the root of all stories.

My next post will talk about the Hero’s Journey, as I feel that naturally links to Michael’s equation.



Also published on Medium.