It’s no secret that I’ve been heavily influenced by Lost, along with other TV shows and movies by J.J. Abrams. I think the man is a genius, and I love everything he does. In this talk he gave at TED, Abrams explains a fundamental philosophy that exists in every story he tells: the mystery box.

In storytelling terms, the tenet of the mystery box states that a closed box with mysterious contents is a lot more compelling than an open box where all the contents are laid bare. It’s a concept that has fascinated me for years, and I could never explain it as well as Abrams does here. This video’s been around for a few years now, but I’m inspired anew every time I watch it.

[Note: this video contains a few instances of foul language.]