"The audience actually wants to work for their meal. They just don't want to know that they’re doing that. That’s your job as a storyteller—to hide the fact that you’re making them work for their meal. We’re born problem-solvers. We’re compelled to deduce and to deduct. Because that’s what we do in real life. It’s this well-organized absence of information that draws us in. There’s a reason that we’re all attracted to an infant or a puppy. It’s not just that they’re damn cute. It’s because they can’t completely express what they’re thinking and what their intentions are. And it’s like a magnet. We can’t stop ourselves from wanting to complete the sentence and fill it in.
I first started really understanding this storytelling advice when I was writing with Bob Petersen on Finding Nemo, and we would call this The Unifying Theory of 2+2. Make the audience put things together. Don’t give them 4; give them 2+2. The elements you provide and the order you place them in is crucial to whether you succeed or fail at engaging the audience. Editors and screenwriters have known this all along. It’s the invisible application that holds our attention to story. I don’t mean to make it sound like this is an actual exact science. It’s not. That’s what’s so special about stories. They’re not a widget. They aren’t exact. Stories are inevitable if they’re good, but they’re not predictable."