To all the writers who have ever felt lost, alone, and completely confused during the labyrinthine journey that is writing anything, and felt like screaming this at your story …
There’s a light at the end of that darn tunnel. First, let me describe how I used to fight my way out of these periods of confusion and hopelessness.
Usually, I would try to force myself to get back into the groove of the story. I would reread it, and be yelling at myself in my head, “Remember why you love it! LOVE your book again! Keep reading and FALL IN LOVE, damn it!” I’d go over descriptions, bits of dialogue, banter between the characters. I’d go over settings and imagery, and try to make myself remember how much they’d once excited me. I’d read things that had made me laugh when I typed them, sentences that I was particularly proud of, paragraphs that made me feel particularly clever. But the thing was, it didn’t work.
I didn’t care.
What was the problem? The problem was some of those descriptions, settings, images, and witty episodes of bantering had no Story Reason to be there. They were just there because they amused me. Just because I found the imagery beautiful. Just because I found a sentence or joke really clever and wanted to share my wit with the world. But the world didn’t care about my wit. Because the world (the people reading my book) knew subconsciously that there was no story to give that so-called witty sentence substance and meaning. I could create the most breath-taking images, I could make the most well-rounded living and breathing character, I could make a setting that you wanted to run away from home and live inside … and it didn’t matter. If the thing didn’t have a purpose for being there within the narrative, nobody cared. And I didn’t either.
So what is a Story Reason?
Everything in a story exists to support one of three things.
1. The A-story: The surface plot, the quest of the main character to achieve a specific tangible goal. What the story is about on the surface.
2. The B-Story: The love story, or relationship of the thing. Usually this relationship is instrumental in causing the third element, which is …
3. The Character Arc. The theme of the story, the purpose, the piece of truth the story seeks to prove to the main character and the audience.
If something in a story doesn’t contribute to the progress of these three, there’s no reason we should care about it. It has no point. Because in the end, all we care about is the story!
When it comes to scenes, story reason means continuity. It means the way the story unfolds logically. If every scene is there for a darn good reason, the scenes after and before will make total sense, they’ll connect seamlessly, a steady progression of events. Every scene’s turn triggers the next scene.
And to do this, every scene must be able to be linked with three words:Because of that.
Because of the turn of one scene …
The next scene happens.
And because of the turn of that scene the next scene happens.
To illustrate how this works, let’s look at a small movie you might have heard about called Zootopia. (Thanks to @inked-withlove for the movie suggestion!)
So let’s start at this point, the turn of the scene with Clawhauser and Judy searching the file on Emmitt Otterton.
Turn: “I have a lead."
Because of that …
Judy has to get Nick to tell her what he knows about Otterton.
Turn: It all goes poorly, and now Nick and Judy are stuck together by an incriminating adorable carrot recorder. (The B Story, the relationship, has intertwined with the A Story.)
Because of that …
Nick takes Judy to the place he saw Otterton go, a place he thinks will cause her to give up.
Turn: She doesn’t quit, she marches right in. (B Story: Nick sounds surprised, and a little impressed, that she didn’t back down.)
Because of that …
She has to question a rude yoga-performing elephant.
Turn: Though the elephant is absolutely no help, the seemingly addled yak is more than helpful – he even remembers the license plate number of the car Emmitt left in.
Because of that …
Nick thinks his part in this endeavor is complete. But Judy remembers that she’s not in the system yet, and thus can’t run a plate. Nick, however, can. And he’s going to, or else.
Turn: It just so happens that he has a pal at the DMV.
Because of that …
Sloths. He takes her to a DMV run by sloths and wastes as much of her precious dwindling time as he can.
Turn: “It’s night?!”
Because of that …
Legitimate Enterprise Car Service (at least that’s what it’s called in the screenplay) is closed. Judy doesn’t have a warrant and Nick is enjoying her suffering tremendously. After a spat, she tosses the carrot over the fence instead of handing it to him.
Turn: Because she has now seen a shifty low-life climbing the fence, she has probable cause, and doesn’t need a warrant. She can go in. (B Story: Nick is looking at her with more respect.)
Because of that …
They find the car and begin investigating. The car is a crime scene; claw marks everywhere, the missing otter’s wallet … and a cocktail glass etched with a "B”.
Turn: And it all adds up for Nick. This car belongs to Mr Big, a notorious crime boss. And his polar bear henchman are right outside. They grab Judy and Nick and yank them off screen.
Because of that …
Judy and Nick are wedged between the bear henchman, on their way to face Mr Big.
Turn: Nick sold him a very expensive rug that happened to be made from the fur of a skunk’s butt. Or in other words, Mr Big really doesn’t like Nick.
Because of that …
They wait fearfully for Mr Big to appear, and even when he’s revealed to be a tiny shrew, Nick still launches into obsequious and panicked mode. He tries talking his way out of it, but Mr Big really REALLY doesn’t like him. And when Judy shouts at him that she’s a cop and she has evidence on him –
Turn: “Ice ‘em.”
Because of that …
“No icing anyone at my wedding!” Fru Fru Shrew is not a happy camper. Father and daughter bicker about his promise of no murder on her wedding day, and the fact that “I have to, baby. Daddy has to.” Until –
Turn: “She’s the bunny who saved my life yesterday. From that giant doughnut!” Well, Judy is now in Mr Big’s good books. He’s going to pay her kindness forward. Nick is floored.
I’m gonna stop there.
SO! After going through that analysis of how the scenes are linked together, let’s abandon the “everything needs a story reason to be in there” rule, and see what happens.
After the scene where Judy and Nick reluctantly join forces, we could add a scene where Nick is trying to remember the name of the place, and where it is. Then we could have them asking around, searching the city, refusing to ask for directions, lots of banter. THEN we can finally get to The Mystic Springs Oasis.
And after they get the plate number, maybe Nick grabs the carrot pen and makes a run for it. Then we can have a chase scene, but he gets away. Then we can have Judy trying to run the plate on her own, before realizing she isn’t in the system, and failing. Then we can have a scene where she has to track down Nick again. Then a scene where she figures out how to blackmail him into it. THEN they finally get to the DMV.
And you know what would have happened then?
Zootopia would have made everyone bored.
All of these inserted scenes are unnecessary. Sure, they might add conflict, add complications to Judy’s quest, but they’re ultimately just filler. They’re just there for the sake of bulking out the story. This is why that tip I hear so often in writing circles always perplexes me: “Figure out the worst possible thing that can happen to your character, then do that.” If people went with this rule, they’d just keep throwing terrible things at the characters for no apparent reason, one after another, and the reader or audience would be expected to be entertained by it (but wouldn’t be). It would be like cartoons before Mickey Mouse came along and applied story to animation: before, cartoons were just gag after gag, slapstick situations mashed together like a funny video compilation. Except with books and movies, it would just be conflict-heavy situations strung together, taking an inordinate amount of time to make any actual progress.
Once you make sure everything has a purpose within the narrative, things get so much better. And I find, when I reread my work I don’t have to scream at myself to “love your book or else” if everything has a reason for being there. And instead of feeling like yelling at my story like an angry overworked crab, I feel a lot more like this gif.
yiiiis, it’s our little KuroNeko’s birthday :D! <3 Fangirls were waiting the whole year for this xD one can finally find a bunch of fanarts of him >:DDD <3 haha~ let’s just celebrate and appreciate him for being born (/ being created by StrikeTanaka xD ). There’s no other kitty as cute as him imo, and he’ll cherish us with his cuteness everyday v.v) <3
I’m also very happy we could see him animated :> ! THE ANIMEEEEE. SURIPI ASHUUUUUU ~ especially seeing him SMILING !! One cannot NOT recognize his Ikemen-ness ! I mean….
his hair as blue as ice ~ his eyes as red as……. NOSEBLEEEEDDDDD ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)! haha jk.
give him some Ramen and he’ll be happy ( =w=)b ! <3
Hey! Is it okay if I request number 60 with Soldier 76 and the reader? Thank you so much! ❤
✿ “If I didn’t know any better, I’d say you were trying to seduce me.” ✿
Training sessions at the base were like rituals now, but with a strict regimen with some person yelling at you for an hour or so about how your form sucks or comparing you to some part of their difficult childhood, like an elderly neighbor or something. That usually ticked you off.
And today felt just about the same. Wake up to the same stupid alarm you had set on your phone but never actually changed even though you tried reminding yourself to do so; showering, brushing your teeth, getting dressed in the appropriate gear and shuffling your way down towards the cafeteria to grab some of your snack stash; and eventually you made your way towards the training facility where you would meet with the old soldier where he would consistently yell about how a sloth could run faster uphill while covered in molasses in the middle of January. Or the usual tidbit about how the S.E.P. program was so much harder than his regimen that he explained time and time again had been built to ‘tend to your body’s specific parameters.’ Which you had, at one point, taken as a fat joke and binged on ice cream for the rest of the day.
But once you had actually walked into the facility, the feeling of being in the same, regular, boring rut that had preceded all of your past coachings had immediately been washed away by the breathtaking sight in front of you– Soldier:76, the mysterious vigilante that joined up with newly reformed Overwatch, was shirtless, his toned muscles shimmering with sweat as he worked on pull-ups in a panelled doorway that sat adjacent from some bench sets that looked like they had all been worked on not too long ago.
You decided to take advantage of the sight, grinning to yourself as you watched the fit soldier go to work, pulling himself up and down on the set as effortlessly as a fish cuts through the water. Almost like it was as easy as breathing for him. It was also one of the rare times when he had that fancy visor removed since he didn’t have the gear equipped to keep it fixated onto his face. Damn, if he caught you staring now, you’d definitely be in trouble. You already wasted a lot of time in just staring at him, so you were probably incredibly late by now, only thanks to the fact that Mister Soldier here didn’t seem to notice just yet.
So… Maybe as punishment for forgetting about you, you had ‘permission’ to play with him for a moment. And with a step forward and a Cheshire grin consuming your usual stoic expression, you entered the facility and dropped your bag onto the floor with a loud THUD!
“You know, if I didn’t know any better, I’d say you were trying to seduce me,” you giggled, stealing the water bottle you packed away in your duffel bag and shook it around, the liquid sloshing around defiantly inside.
Soldier had struggled in keeping a tight grip after the flop of the stuffed bag disturbed his concentration, but when your statement sang its way through his ears he immediately lost all focus in his grip and slip down to the ground, thankfully landing on flat feet before regaining somewhat of a stable composure and stared at you.
“Training session? Did you forget?” You teased, shaking the bottle side to side again before jogging your way up to him and slapped his shoulder. “Come on, show off! Gonna have to try harder than just displaying some sweaty muscles to me!” You laughed, darting away towards the track as you left the old Soldier to stare after you.
“Wait… What? Hey! Get back here Cadet!” he shouted after recovering from your teases and bolted after you, face as red as the Patriotic colours on his training shorts.
“Acedia” is an
ancient Latin word meaning “neglect”, and refers to neglectfulness of one’s
self or one’s duties. More modern descriptors used for Sloth are apathy, laziness, listlessness, restlessness, or
instability. Of all the seven deadly sins, it is the only one that has its
roots in emptiness, or an absence of something. Lack of passion? Lack of love?
Or maybe you’re just
so chill you can’t be bothered by the burdens and demands of the world.
In Dante’s Purgatorio, the punishment for Sloth is eternal running at top speed.
As always, feel free to ignore for whatever reason. I’ve not been following my dash for like a month now, so I have no idea who might have done this already or even who is actively posting at the moment.
1. Disney’s next Fairytale is Jack and the beanstalk. It’s called Gigantic
It’s set in Spain during the age of exploration. Jack meets a giant 11 year old girl up there in a whole world of giants. They showed one of the songs featuring her and it’s adorable.
2. Zootopia is a fully realized world and they did a bunch of animal research for it. It’s about a rabbit who becomes a cop and gets caught in a missing persons case. Her only lead is this con-man fox. Hi jinks ensue
Also the DMV is run by Sloths. It’s hiaruous
3. THE ROCK HIMSELF SHOWED UP FOR MOANNA AND THE CROWD LOST IT.
He plays a demigod named Maui and the story is about Moanas adventure to return sailing to her people. The ocean is sentient, and there’s a living island who looks FIERCE
also they played one of the songs live and it was awesome
4. Lots of Good Dinosaur clips. It looks promising
5. ELLEN DEGENERES SHOWED UP. THE CROWD LOST IT AGAIN
Finding Dory looks great!! They had a surprisingly large amount of clips for it.
6. That Dia de Los muertos movie is called Coco. They showed an animation test for it. It’s very vibrant and bright!
I’m upset though, since I know NO ONE will give this a chance and will judge it because of Book of Life.
7. Toy Story 4 is about searching for Bo Peep. It’s still super early in production, but randy Newman showed up and played “You Got A Friend In Me” LIVE!!
Cory yawned stepping into the coffee shop, stifling a yawn. He looked over the board smiling at the names to himself. "I'll have anything that has enough caffeine to make a sloth run a mile a minute...." he said at last, too exhausted to think beyond that before looking at the man, "I love the names." (for Mat)
Mat looked up when he heard the little bell above the door ring, and smiled at the new customer; here was someone he didn’t recognize. He grinned. “You got it.” he said, moving over to the coffee machine and starting to brew something dark and decidedly not decaf. “Thanks man! Took forever to come up with…still not too sure on some of ‘em. Oh well.” he grinned, starting to put together something similar to the little ‘care packages’ he made for Robert when the poor guy was hung over. This guy looked tired enough for it. “I haven’t seen you around before. What’s your name?”
When Will My Life Begin (Tangled Dream) || Leo & Alec
Leo never understood why his mother kept him locked up. She kept telling him that the world outside was dangerous, with everything designed to hurt him. He couldn`t even remember a time when he had ever set foot outside, though he always looked out his window and longed to set foot on those… green grass, see those colorful plants up close, and see the blue sky shift to orange with no roof to block the view.
So one day, when his mother was set to come back a week after, Leo finally got his chance, with his very helpful friend sloth encouraging him by smiling at him to actually come out and return before his mother would know. He grabbed a basket and packed some food, a pan (the only thing he found that could possibly hurt people who wants to hurt him, and where his sloth can sleep too. He unfortunately doesn`t have any shoes, since his mother insisted she`ll just get him a pair when his feet have stopped growing. With a final look at their little tower, he carried the sloth in his arms and sneaked out quietly.
Leo went through the secret trap door (that he hopes his mother would never find out that he knows) and carefully touched the grass with his toe. Soft. Grinning, he started to run around, laughing. The sloth was awake too, having been shaken badly from his running and his laughter. He couldn`t believe he was outside, even if he felt slightly guilty from disobeying his mother. No one was around here, anyway, so he doubted that he would get hurt.
Entranced by a colorful butterfly, Leo followed after it, curiously watching it move its wings until it landed on a flower. It was only then that he had realized he was finally in the field of flowers he kept seeing in the distance from the window of his tower. He smiled, picking a red flower up. It looked so radiant up close, nothing like the worn red cloth cover of some of his books. “Wow,” he breathed. This was how beautiful the world was and his mother didn`t want him to see? He carefully placed the flower under the cloth in his basket. He would definitely keep it under his pillow at nigh–Leo quickly turned his head when he heard a scuffle, something he hadn`t noticed a few moments ago. “H-Hello?” he asked warily, looking for the source of sound and wrapping his arm protectively over the sloth hanging on his neck.