Story Crutch

tony

What’s a story crutch?

You’ve seen it before. A nagging feeling that this story is not quite working.

An undeserved ending. That cliched moment. Some hamfisted exposition. A truncated character. These are common mistakes that prevent stories from being the best they could be.

In today’s episode we’ll look at a few examples of how your story can go terribly wrong and what you can do to fix it.

Listen to episode 39 below – iTunesStitchermp3

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Reverse Engineering

reverse.jpgI’ve been spending more time lately working on a few stories of my own. It seems like every day I’m learning the difference between picking apart and analyzing someone else’s story and the much harder task of writing something of your own.

When we critique someone else’s work, we usually forget the long process that went into bringing that narrative to life. All we see are the flaws and the mistakes and we overlook the fact that even a bad movie is still a finished movie. A poorly executed story that managed to actually get finished is still superior than a great idea that only exists in your head.

Everyone has an opinion on what makes a great story, but very few people have what it takes to create a compelling story of their own. Why is that?

Could it be that storytelling is actually much harder than we all assume?

Listen to episode #38 below – iTunesStitchermp3

Stories Come From People

cars 2Today we are talking about where stories come from, specifically how they emerge out of our personal experiences and unique authorial perspective. We’ll talk about the inspiration behind The Hunger Games, Spielberg’s aliens, and the critically panned Cars 2.

When I say that stories come from people, I mean that stories are also inseparable from their creators. In many ways, they must communicate the specific life experiences of their authors.

Listen to Episode #37 – iTunesStitchermp3


 
 

Sources for this episode:

Suzanne Collin on the Inspiration for the Hunger Games

http://www.slj.com/2008/09/interviews/under-cover/a-killer-story-an-interview-with-suzanne-collins-author-of-the-hunger-games/#_

 

David S Goyer’s Screenwriting Lecture

https://soundcloud.com/bafta/david-s-goyer-screenwriting-lecture

Scott, Linklater, and Russell’s Personal Experiences

http://flavorwire.com/395372/the-true-stories-behind-10-directors-most-personal-films

John Lasseter on Cars 2

NYT John Lasseter of Pixar defends Cars 2

Breaking the Rules

neo

Twist endings. Multiples protagonist. Complicated storylines.

How does structure help a story and do you have to follow it?

On today’s episode we’ll look at what kind of rules do you need to follow in a story and why you might want to consider breaking them.

Listen here – iTunesStitchermp3

What Makes A Good Story? – Making Movies Is HARD Podcast

mmih.jpgToday is a special one because I’m the guest on one of my favorite podcasts in the world: Making Movies Is HARD.

I had the wonderful opportunity to talk with indie filmmakers Alrik Bursell and Timothy Plain about what makes a good story. We discussed our favorite storytelling principles, delved into some of the nuts and bolts of how stories function, and examined Andrew Stanton’s excellent TED talk.

The whole reason I started the Story Punch podcast was to try and figure out how to tell compelling stories. It’s incredible to sit down with a couple of filmmakers who really know their stuff and swap ideas with them. I hope you’ll give it a listen and check out their podcast!

Listen here – iTunesStitchermp3

Creating Conflict

bvs.jpg

Can’t we all just get along?

Conflict is a crucial part of every story. It’s the driving force that moves the narrative forward. Without conflict, there can be no story.

How do you create conflict?

Where does it come from?

On today’s episode we look at three different sources for conflict in a story:

  • interpersonal conflict
  • environmental conflict
  • inner conflict

Listen to Episode #31 – mp3iTunesStitcher

Story Logic

A great story doesn’t just grab your attention. It also makes logical sense.

On today’s episode, we’ll talk about the two different layers in a story: how it makes sense in the moment and how it makes sense in terms of overall plot.

Sometimes an exciting story falls apart as soon as you stop and think about what is happening. Sometimes a thoughtful well planned out story just isn’t interesting. How do you find that balance? How can a story make sense but also keep the audience’s interest?

Listen to Episode 31 – MP3 iTunesStitcher