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Story structure

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Tara Black

on 9 May 2012

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Transcript of Story structure

Are exchanges of behaviour in terms of action/reaction that change the tension/emotion of the story on the smallest level.
Writing your short film
What genre?
What are the rules?
You need to use the rules to your advantage
Build to:
A scene should be a story event. Ask yourself: What is at stake here? Will a relationship change?
Conflict and
between expectation and result
Second action
First Action
Object of
Internal Conflict
Personal Conflicts
Extra personal
Build to:
Beat 1: A cockroach is discovered on Matt's book.
Beat 2: Matt threatens to flick it and Ana says 'You better not flick it here'
Beat 3: Teacher says that Matt should get rid of it. Matt says he will need a tissue to do so.
Beat 4: Matt attempts to get the cockroach but it scuttles away. The girls scream.
Beat 5: Ray takes the tissue off Matt and gets rid of the cockroach. (He solves the problem)
“The cat sat on the mat. No story. The cat sat on a dog’s mat. Story.”
“The king died and then the queen died. Story. The king died and then the queen died of grief. Plot.”
-E. M. Forster
+ plot


(what happens)
(your construction in your mind which puts everything together).
(how & why it happens)
Your characters need to face conflict that will cause them to change
Your characters need to want something or have a lack.
Look for the beats in this fight scene:
It's easier to work out what beats are in a fight scene
Inciting incident/
call to adventure
Rising action
Inciting incidents
Meaningful change should have happened. Remember the plot points that end an act in a feature film.
What conflict and desire?
What does your character want?
What obstacles are in your character's way?
This creates action and reaction.
Chose one of the story events below and write it as a noir or teen or noir/teen (just bullet point the plot):

a.'girl meets boy'
b. ‘enemy meets enemy’,
c. teenager meets ‘new kid’,
d.character has lost something.
e. character is looking for information

What is at stake? What do the characters want?
Brainstorm the rules of some genres you like.

What sorts of characters?
Make this story into 3 acts (using bullet points):
A garbage man finds and fixes broken things to give to the girl at the Salvation Army who he likes.

Extension task: Make it a different genre.
What ways do we learn about characters?
What techniques are useful?
What do you need to know about your characters?
How we know about characters:
-through actions
-the way they speak
-decisions/how they decide
-appearance (clothing, hair etc)

What you need to know about them:
Scott McCloud says we have 3 options with character and desire:

1. Desires and gets it
2. Desires and doesn't get it
3. Desires and then realises that they don't want it after all.
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