Why Saving the World is a Terrible Idea



Don’t misunderstand me, dear reader! The world is an important place, especially for world-builders such as ourselves. And yet, when it comes to “saving the world” as a plot, I’d argue it is the least fulfilling story a writer can tell. Why is my opinion on this matter important, you ask? Hell if I know, but since you’re here why not see what I have to say about it?

To start off, I want to get my biggest point out of the way: saving the world isn’t relatable. Let’s be honest with ourselves, not many of us have what it takes to save the world. At least, not in the way fiction oftentimes depicts saving the world. We aren’t powerful sorcerers, nor are we predestined heroes of justice with divine blood running through our veins.

Or maybe some of you reading this are. In which case, feel free to hit me up! Would love to know what that’s like.

Reeling this back towards my point, stories the reader can relate to are far more compelling than ones where the fate of the world is at stake. That’s not to say we can’t enjoy stories like the latter. If we didn’t find them enjoyable, then we wouldn’t have as many superhero movies as we do. There’s nothing wrong with escapism, but even with superheroes, we enjoy them because their characters resonate with us, not because they’re saving the world for the fifth time this week.

But a plot focusing on people’s day-to-day struggles leaves much more room for memorable characters and stories. Some of them are larger-than-life, certainly, but there’s a higher chance somebody is going to relate to the story of personal struggle versus bearing the weight of the whole world on your shoulders.

My second point ties into this mindset a great deal, so much so that you might as well just consider it point one and a half. What point is that, you ask? Well, maybe it’s just me, but saving the world seems pretty boring. It’s one of those things you decide to write about when you run out of ideas. They’re easier to write - in my experience, anyway — but usually lack the same kind of depth that down — to-earth stories do.

Bringing it back to superhero movies, I’m going to sort of spoil Avengers: Infinity War (not really, but there’s a warning for those who are extra sensitive about movie spoilers). The movie isn’t interesting and successful because it’s another “let’s save the world” story, but because the audience is invested in the characters. And the reason they’re invested in the characters is because they’ve watched them go through much more personal struggles.

So, start there! Write stories that focus on more intimate story-lines and build up your characters. After that, if you’re still interested, then by all means write about them going through one of the weakest story-lines imaginable.


Daniel Neubauer

Daniel is a second-year student of the Professional Writing Program at Algonquin College with a terrible sense of humour and an interest in all sorts of music. Whether it be due to raw talent or absolute dumb luck, he’s somehow made it this far and is ready to subject more unsuspecting students to his opinions.