If there is a universal scale, I think it also measures narrative.
A scale is a simple thing, but it can be layered and noodled around and enhanced and emphasized into a symphony.
The best stories—the ones that resonate and engage the reader—are based on simple story threads, layered and enhanced and emphasized and twisted.
The fight for justice, truth, revenge, recovery, survival.
(a boy grows to manhood preparing to confront a once-human evil that killed his parents)
(A woman struggles to keep alcoholism and mental illness from consuming her)
The discovery of self–self-worth, self-defense, self-regard . . . Selflessness.
(A woman, called ugly and worthless, stands up to her abusive husband and finds her own path)
(A miser realizes, with help, that he wants to live a better, less lonely life)
The search for companionship, love, friends, belonging, home.
(A soldier forges his small, scruffy band into Napoleon’s nightmare)
(A young woman falls for a sentient robot and teaches it to love her in return)
(a child tries to adjust to living outside one small room)
The drive towards fulfillment–of hope, of rage, of despair, of joy, of peace, of purpose.
(every story ever told)
In the end, or at the start, the best stories are about expectations and tension and fulfillment. The journey and the destination.
And I think that in the right hands, these threads involve us in the same amazing way as a pentatonic scale directed by Bobby McFerrin.
And we’ll follow them wherever they lead.