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34. Three Questions To Ask When Storytelling

Posted By 93 Studios On August 31, 2009 @ 2:00 pm In Frontpage,Storytelling | 1 Comment

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While doing research for this story I found quite a few common threads running through the way people describe story structure.

When it comes down to it, everyone is saying that stories need a beginning, middle and end and that the beginning needs to setup the conflict, the end needs to resolve it and the middle needs to take you from the beginning to the end.

I wanted to take a look at this three part structure from two different perspectives and see how inline they are with each other.

Both of these come from film makers, let’s start with Mystery Man [2],

What does your protagonist want?

What are the goals, desires, and motivations of that individual?

What are the character’s needs, which propel the story forward?

This is a much more character-centric way at looking at the conflict in the story. Which makes sense because a story that isn’t told through the eyes of some character isn’t much of a story now is it. It’s clear that the major driving element here is to give your character a reason for acting and a conflict to act in and everything will work itself out.

Now, let’s look at Amateur Moving Making [3] and see what they have to say,

There are three specific storytelling elements that MUST be present to give your movie substance:

1. Story Conflict All life is a struggle. To be human is to have conflict. Without conflict, the story will just be a series of events with no emotional strength. No humanity. Your audience will be polite (or not). But your movie will be a sleeper.

2. Story Character Development A good story needs a compelling main character. Someone to wrestle with his conflict. Someone that the audience is interested in. A good movie can’t ignore character development. Your audience doesn’t have to like him. But they have to be interested in him.

3. Desire This is the force that drives or motivates your character. Desire drives them to want to get through their dilemma. It could be fear, passion, love, hate, vengeance, personal integrity, etc.

As you can see, characterization, conflict and desire are the threads that run through both of these tellings. If you look at classic story structure you will find that it’s designed to frame characterization, conflict and desire in a meaningful wat. When you are creating your stories, make certain that no matter how the pieces fit together in the end, that they touch on these three points.

Alright, now for the “homework” portion of this segment. Watch this story, “Teachers” from the 2008 New York Television Film Festival and uh, tell me whether they answer all the questions. Yea, that’s definitely why I want you to watch this.

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[2] Mystery Man: http://mysterymanonfilm.blogspot.com/2007/03/character-goals.html

[3] Amateur Moving Making: http://www.amateur-movie-making.com/elements-of-storytelling.html

[4] Image: http://ninetythrees.com/stories/learn-to-be-subtle/

[5] Image: http://ninetythrees.com/stories/developing-hooks/

[6] Image: http://ninetythrees.com/stories/reverse-engineer-your-stories/

[7] Image: http://ninetythrees.com/stories/add-humor-to-your-stories/

[8] Image: http://ninetythrees.com/stories/avoid-cross-media-remediation/

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