On Saturday we went to a monster truck rally, put on by Hot Wheels. It was like that Simpson's episode where the family goes to see "Truckasaurus." In fact, this show did have a Truckasaurus but it was Megasaurus – a fire-breathing, car-crushing metal dino. Probably the most memorable thing by far.
We were talking about how the kids enjoyed it and that it was fun but my wife said she wished the drivers had more personality.
After all, it's a show and there's some level of performance and theatrics that we expected. Maybe it's because we've been trained by wrestling to expect some manufactured drama – but that's what makes it entertaining, right?
For example, the drivers all seemed bored and when the mic was hot, had nothing much to say except some generic "I'm doing my dream job" type stuff.
The only driver that was into it was The Gunkster driver, saying things like:
"I'm NOT just going to win THIS category, I'm here for the Champions Cup!!! YEAAAAAHHH."
But that was it! Nobody else contested this, played into it, or did anything to further this narrative.
We started throwing out ideas:
"They could have had the driver's trash talk each other (in kid-friendly ways)"
"When Mega Wrex was having trouble they should have had something ready for a situation like that like another driver messed with the engine."
"I expected a driver to interrupt someone else and pretend to make them crash."
"What if they had another driver swap places and pretend they had taken over the other's truck?"
"They could have had a driver stuck in the car Megasaurus was demolishing and they could all rally to help them."
The thing is... the show tasted "good" but it had no umami. The way they tried to spice it up was to make it into a fake competition with made-up points. But it wasn't really a competition – clearly, The Gunkster was going to win the whole time. None of the other drivers played into it.
There was no drama, no conflict.
This is a major problem you'll see in lots of writing – everything is hunky dory, it all works out, and people get what they want. There's no tension, nothing to keep you wondering what happens next. It's not satisfying. Like a green bean casserole.
If you want to create umami DevEd that is engaging and memorable, tell a story. You cannot tell a story without conflict. A story without conflict doesn't make you feel anything, you won't be invested, and you won't remember it.