Budding writers, this is your lucky week.
First you enjoyed my Guide to Critiquing Short Fiction,
And now you can read my Storytelling 101!
This particular post is based on my lectures in Scriptwriting.
It focuses on how to FIND and MAKE a great story NOT how to WRITE a great story.
A separate post later on will tackle the complex, technical world of writing a story.
The Book Florist's Storytelling 101
1: The Indispensable Guide to Story
A story has to have:
- A PROTAGONIST
- Who WANT something,
- Takes ACTION to get it, but
- They face CONFLICT, which leads to
- A CLIMAX and ultimately
- A RESOLUTION
This structure will guide you through any short story, novel, or script etc. that you plan to write. It is the ultimate foundation for all good fiction writing.
2: Coming up with Ideas
Here are some weird and wonderful ideas that can help you with the arduous process of coming up with your story ideas. Remember to have pen and paper on you at all times so if inspiration strikes, you're prepared.
- The Magic 'What If?' (Read my post on the Magic 'What If?' by following the link)
- Eavesdrop on conversations: on public transport, at the park...
- Newspaper headlines
- Personal experience: your passions are the best guide to powerful storytelling
- True stories / historical events
- Keep a visual diary: (Pintrest is a good way to pin-down visual stimuli)
- Construct mind-maps
- Read and research!!!
3: Things to Think About
My Scriptwriting lecturer asked us to ponder the following things. They vary from guidelines for writing to concepts to dwell on and be inspired by. Many of these are things I'd never considered before, but have since broadened my imagination and awareness.
Three Questions to Ask Yourself about Values:
Answering these questions will help you to identify the personal values that you hold. It is useful to know these as your values will always inform and appear in your writing.
- What is worth living for?
- What is worth dying for?
- What is not worth pursuing?
No one sees the world the same way you do, or has had the same experiences, feelings, and thoughts that you have. Therefore, your memory is an amazing and unique way to fuel your imagination!
Know the rules of writing so that you can begin to break them!
Everyone - EVERYONE - has a story.
4: The Three-Part Story Structure Guide
This Three-Part story structure guide is a brilliant tool to use when trying to figure out what to include in your story and where to put it. This particular guide was tailored towards scriptwriting for short and feature films, but nevertheless, it's a failsafe guide for any story. This is a simplified version as the original is very heavy reading!
- Introduce the hero
- Establish the setting
- Establish the relationships between the characters
- Introduce the situation
- Introduce the outer motivation for the hero (their goal)
- Introduce the conflict
Hurdles, suspense, conflict, obstacles, pace, character development, character revelations; heroes facing ongoing complications in trying to reach their goal
- Resolve the outer motivation and conflict for the hero
- Tie up all the loose ends
5: Recommended Reading
Here are some books and texts that have been recommended to scriptwriting students as valuable resources.
- The Hero's Journey by Christopher Vogler
This formula for character and storytelling was the basis for some of the most amazing and memorable stories. Think Lord of the Rings and Star Wars.
- Story by Robert McKee
- Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell
- My Story can Beat Up your Story by Jeffrey Schechter
Thanks for reading, and keep an eye out for my upcoming post on Writing a Story.