Andrew Stanton: The clues to a great story

These are a few simple points that we could use to question ourselves to see if we’re on the right path.

  • Know your ending, your punchline.
  • Make me care.
  • Don’t give the audience 4, give them 2+2. The unifying theory of 2+2.
  • Every character is driven by an itch that they need to scratch, the spine of their character that drives them. It doesn’t always drive them to make the correct decisions.
  • Drama is anticipation mingled with uncertainty.
  • Have you constructed uncertainty? Have you made me want to know what will happen next?
  • A strong theme is always running through a well told story e.g. identity in Lawrence of Arabia.
  • Can you create wonder in your audience?
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Writing Excuses Notes Season 01 Part 01

Out of all the animated shorts that I’ve seen on YouTube, story is definitely the biggest let down. We (the team) seem to share a liking of shorts that quickly show character and conflict. This seems obvious, but so many shorts very quickly loose engagement through poor storytelling. The artistic, visual appeal of the short can also influence whether we like a short or not but this is because we tend to watch the start longer if it’s ‘pretty’ and often the story will be present already in the mood and atmosphere if the art direction is strong.

Season 01, episodes 01 – 10 of Writing Excuses so far has made some useful points on making original ideas, cutting what doesn’t work, beginnings, heroes, protagonists, villains, and pacing.

Episodes 01 – 10 notes:

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Character Trees RocketJump Film School

Character Trees (2015) RocketJump Film School

The following description prompts, starting from the feet up, could be a useful way for us to build a picture of our characters. The exercise is meant to help you figure out the psychology of your character which will impact what decisions the character makes within the story. The example below is from Video Game Highschool.

The following is FILM CRIT HULK’s outline of each part of the tree:

Source: http://birthmoviesdeath.com/2014/03/06/hulk-presents-character-trees

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Rocketjump Film School How to Write a Logline

 

  1. Who is your main character?
  2. What do they want?
  3. What’s in their way?
  4. How do they overcome it?
  5. Where does it take place?

Write down the surface details, e.g. profession, and personality details of your main character. Combine the key character descriptors, those that will drive the narrative, with the setting and conflict to make a 1 – 2 sentence logline.

Heather Kenyon: Pitch Bible

Creating an idea for a series which we love and which still adheres to the requirements of a particular broadcaster has been a recent shared challenge for me at Flickerpix. There is still a lot about writing character driven narrative which I’m trying to figure out. I see the broadcaster brief as less of a limitation and more of a challenge. How does writing for a 10 year old audience differ from an 8 or 14 year old audience? I would guess that looking at particular life events would be a good place to start but what about the language and types of characters? I usually categorise the books that I read a little more broadly into children, young adult fiction and other, usually depending on the age of the main characters if it’s a more modern book. Paying more attention to target audience in the bookshelves might be more helpful.

Trying to distill an idea into a short form while still maintaining the humour and demonstrating how the characters drive the narrative has been another challenge. The video link below has some useful tips.

How to Create a Pitch Bible with Heather Kenyon

  • Think about the competition. Is there something on air that is already similar to your idea? Have a good answer why it’s not that.
  • Think about where you see your show. Know the difference between networks and where you are able to sell. Don’t handicap yourself with a tiny niche.
  • Think about what relates to your target audience. What are in their lives?
  • Ask for feedback. What doesn’t make sense to them? Start soft pitching the idea. See where you stumble or are too convoluted.
  • Your bible is your presentation guide. Don’t read from it. Ask if people want a hardcopy or a pdf emailed to them.
  • Kidscreen, miptv, mipcom (bigger for animation).
  • Your bible should be around 10 pages, a fun easy read. Overview, character descriptions, episode examples.
  • Overview – tagline, start at the beginning, you need to start with the basic information! What are the rules, tone, genre, length of episodes, storylines? The overview is 1 – 2 pages describing the complete package. Give exact examples, be clear about the points. This is the stage.
  • Character descriptions. Adjectives don’t tell you much. Be creative about how you describe character. The look of the character can be a good opportunity to start with ‘the opposite’ statement. E.g. Mandy is disgusting. She uses her sweet looks to get her way. Show the conflict between what the character is and what the character wants to be.
  • Episode spring boards. This is the area that makes or breaks the bible. Show the beginning, middle and end. Give the examples that draw the overviews and characters together. What is it about the characters that motivate actions in the story line? Who is important in your show? Have you given them enough prickles in their personalities to drive the story off of each other?

What Makes a Hero?

Cassie Galloway posted this recap of the Hero’s Journey on Animation Belfast.I haven’t read about story craft in a while, and seeing how it’s the most important element (of every media?) it’s something I need to start reading about and practicing again.

“You leave your comfort zone, have an experience that transforms you and then you recover, and do it again.”

“The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.” Sound like life true enough.

Worldbuilding

 

These are some articles that I found on worldbuilding. They give some food for thought for our concept art/build a world project.

Chuck Wendig (2013) 25 Things You Should Know About Worldbuilding:

http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2013/09/17/25-things-you-should-know-about-worldbuilding/

Tad Williams (2013) Thoughtful Thursday: Tad Williams talks about world-building: (The importance of research and giving glimpses into something bigger).

http://www.fantasyliterature.com/giveaway/thoughtful-thursday-tad-williams-talks-about-world-building/

Charlie Jane Anders (2013) 7 Deadly Sins of Worldbuilding:

http://io9.gizmodo.com/7-deadly-sins-of-worldbuilding-998817537