I gave myself a test today.
So while staring at my 750words.com page I didn’t know what to write (This is the first time I’ve written in months.) So I tried to rack my brain and I came up with this: How about I write everything I know about story down so that I can know what I don’t know or fully understand about story. I mean I read all of these books but just about how much of it is sticking?
So here it is, 750 words about what I know about story.
What I know about story:
When it comes to script writing, active verbs should always be used.
Story can be structured into three acts:
Act one is the exposition to the problem and the character’s wants and the obstacles facing him/her. This also may expose some sub plots in introduction. Act one ends with the inciting incident which spurns the main character into action to gain what they want.
The second act begins with the character formulating a plan to get what they want or reluctantly discovering what they want because of the inciting incident. This is primarily the time when there is a reaction to the inciting incident and the character acts on his/her own personality to come up with a solution or do something outside of their normal routine to get what they want. The act two break normally arrives during a belly of the whale moment- all of the main characters attempts to get what they want have failed and they must be forced to make a decision weather to continue to work for what they want or to re-evaluate what they want.
Act three begins with the decision of what the character really wants. This spurns them into action and they put forth all their efforts into getting what they want. The climax occurs at the height of the emotional and physical efforts when the character’s resolve is most resolute. This is the height of conflict. After the climax there is falling action where the main character must now deal with all that he/she has learned/done during the course of the story and must mend/break ties and accept responsibility for them.
Character derives from what a character wants and how far they will go to get it.
So from this we can find two rules: A character has a want and a character has stakes. The stakes are what separates the character from his/her want. These are character objectives and character stakes- every dynamic character will have these.
Within the story there are also Super Objectives and Super Stakes. A character may want cheese as his character objective but his Super Objective might just be to not feel hungry, now weather he gets the cheese or he decides to eat an apple instead or maybe he’ll go through this whole ordeal to get food and in the end he finds that he’s not hungry (Kung Fu Panda anyone?).
But character is also made through traits that the writer gives him. There is a driving trait that is displayed most predominately and then there is also sub-traits that serve to make the character more dynamic. Now these traits aren’t discovered by the character saying “I am Shy.” The character interacts with other dynamic supporting characters that serve to forward the sub-traits of the main character. For example a shy character may interact with their outgoing friend. Without saying anything on the nose we can see the differences between the way the two of them dress, stand, act and talk. We know now that the main character is shy just by seeing the differences between the two of them.
A character must also be an active participant. Its okay for a character to be passive in act 1 until the inciting incident spurns them into action but it does not always make for good drama. A worth while character should be actively seeking a solution to his/her problem. This is very unlike real life where as humans we generally avoid conflict instead of seeking it out. We will obey and grumble without actually doing something about it (speaking quite first hand here).
All conflict must be an active conflict. There are many different kinds of conflicts depending on which scholar you talk to. The most basic are these:
Human vs. Human
Human vs. World
Human vs. Self
So basically, open conflict with another being, conflict with an establishment/group of people, or conflict with yourself. All conflict must be dynamic, a battle of wills- your antagonist, weather its the world, a human or inside yourself should always be in the right in his/her/its own mind. People are not created evil. The antagonist should think that they are the protagonist, but if we are in the protagonist’s POV they are the antagonist.
What do I not know now that I’ve written this:
-Ego and super ego and that stuff..?
-Alternate structures apart from the three act structure
-Many active verbs.
-How to structure a character…. there’s quite a few chapter in Robert McKee’s Story about that.
-Apparently I need to revisit theme and things like that too since it didn’t come to me first off.
What else did I miss?