Thursday, August 10, 2017

Community: The Archive

How many of these people are starring in their own shows right now?  (I guess Joel McHale and Danny Pudi’s new shows just got cancelled, but Brie, Olver, Glover and Jacobs are going strong.)

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Cheers: The Archive

This was one of the first ones I did, back when I didn’t do as many posts about each one.  I should go back and add some more at some point.  There’s certainly no shortage of things to say about this great pilot.

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Mackendrick's Rules: The Archive

Writer-director Alexander Mackendrick made underrated movies such as The Man in the White Suit, then became a revered film professor and published a great book called On Filmmaking.Commenter J.S. found a list of 41 Mackendrick truisms online, so I spent a few days discussing how those excellent rules lined up with my own advice... 

Monday, July 31, 2017

The Shining: The Archive

Yay, it’s my final updated checklist ever!  (Unless I do the TV checklists.  I don’t think I will because those checklists were only slightly updated.  I still may archive them though.)  Unexpectedly, this movie did a pretty terrible job with the checklist, mainly because it kept switching heroes.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Infographic on Theme

Hi, everybody! Before we do the next archive, a reader named Martin Cavannagh asked me share a big infographic he made about Theme. He defines Theme slightly differently than I do, but there’s a lot of good insights here, so I’m happy to share it. Check it out!

Thursday, July 27, 2017

The First 15 Minutes Project: The Archive

 So back before the Road Tests of the Ultimate Story Checklist, I had a series where I would go step by step through the first 15 minutes of a film or TV pilot and figure out how they got us on the side of the hero.  Many of these eventually got checklists, but many never did, so they can only be found here (How have I never done The French Connection or The Apartment?) The above graphic is from the fifth piece below where I went through the first four and noticed something: One shortcut to sympathy is to have your white character high-five a black person. 

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Problem, Opportunity, Conflict: The Archive

A good series.  I enjoyed making graphics like the one above, and it was a bit of a let-down to realize that none of them were going to make it into the book, but its probably for the best.  It might have made it harder to set up the audiobook.

Monday, July 24, 2017

How to Write a Screenplay in 30 Easy Steps: The Archive

This is obviously a relic from the days when this was pretty much exclusively a screenwriting blog, but this method (which is no longer really my method) could apply to other types of writing as well. I love the comic I chopped up to use as illustrations for this. I totally forget what it was or where I found it...

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Interweaving an Irreconcilable Theme: The Archive

Well, it’s happened again, I went searching for my Theme series only to discover that I never did one!  As with  Dialogue, I apparently just stitched that portion of the Checklist together out of Storyteller’s Rulebook pieces, so I have to dump all my Theme pieces here and let you put it together yourself!

Monday, July 17, 2017

How to Craft Dialogue: The Archive

So, funny story: I go to archive my “How to Write Dialogue” series and discover that it isn’t in the sidebar, which seems weird.  So then I search for it.  It turns out that it doesn’t exist.  Because I never wrote one.  The other six sections of the checklist were based on series I wrote, but I apparently just cobbled together the Dialogue section of the checklist from “Storyteller’s Rulebook” posts I’d written.  So I decide that it’s high time this was in the sidebar, so I make a list of all the posts with a tag that says Dialogue, and I realize that I haven’t been doing this with the other categories, because it’s a ton of work, because I’ve written hundreds of “Storyteller’s Rulebook” posts.  Nevertheless, here you go: I never wrote this series so you get more than you could have asked for:

Thursday, July 13, 2017

How to Structure a Story Around a Big Problem: The Archive

It’s interesting to see how much this all changed on its way into the book:

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

How to Create a Compelling Character: The Archive

Forget what I said yesterday, this is the real backbone of the book.  The introduction of this story became the opening of the book and the conclusion became the conclusion.  This one was calling out for an archive because the original posts were written out of order and re-numbered later, making them a nightmare to read the way Blogger had them sorted.  Lots of interesting stuff here: It’s fascinating how late in the process the Moment of Humanity arrived.  

Monday, July 10, 2017

The Secrets of Story Book Videos: The Archive

Hey guys, I’ve never put my book videos into the sidebar, so here they are! I would love to go back and do some more of these if I get the time (each represents many, many hours of work!)

Video #1 is about how you should let objects do the talking:
Video #2 is about how characters should use tricks and traps:

Video #3 is about creating moments of humanity for your characters. This is the least-watched video, and I suspect that this is because YouTube chose to use a frame from Mean Girls to represent the video, and it thus looks uncool.  It’s good though, and it’s cool, I promise: 

Video #4 is about how to work exposition into your story:

Thursday, June 29, 2017

The Secrets of Story Podcast: The Archive

Hi guys, I figured I should go ahead and create an archive page for my podcast (I’ve already archived the ten episodes I guest-co-hosted the Narrative Breakdown podcast). We sure have been slow in putting these things out (Five episodes in eight months!), but I always enjoy them when I do. Feel free to subscribe to us on iTunes and rate us and review us there!

In the first episode, I introduce my co-host James Kennedy and we debate about how critical you should be of your own work, based on this post:

 In our second episode, James and I debate one step in my structure, in which I claim that the hero should try the easy way:
 In our third episode, we broke format for a super-sized episode in which James performed his Laika script with his niece and nephew, than I jumped in to give notes.   This episode turned out to be, in my opinion, eminently skippable, but I include it in the interest of completeness...
In our fourth episode, James and debate about contentious dialogue.  (Interestingly, I can find no one post where I recommend contentious dialogue. This is the closest I could find.)
In the fifth episode James and I are joined by acclaimed novelist Jonathan Auxier and we debate about how strict you have to be with POV in your prose, based on this post.
Hopefully there will be more to come soon!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

New Podcast: POV with Special Guest Jonathan Auxier!

Hey guys, I just hid Thursday’s post to call more attention to this one, because Harvey Jerkwater just posted his very-cool version of my musical idea to the comments.  Read it in the comments and comment yourself!  (I’ll have my comments on it up later...)

Hi everybody, it’s been a long time since we had a new episode of the podcast!   This time around, James Kennedy and I are happy to be joined by acclaimed novelist Jonathan Auxier to discuss POV in prose, and we had previously done in this post and this post.  (As always, the music is from FreeMusicArchive.com. It’s “Lucky Me” by Scott Holmes, with an Attribution/NonCommercial license.)

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Fugitive: The Archive

It’s interesting that this movie didn’t do as well on the structure section as you’d think...
An interesting question that was cut when I cut this down from the longer fifth version of the checklist:

Are the physics of the world (realistic or stylized?) established early and maintained throughout?
They’re somewhat-stylized, as established by the waterfall jump. It’s thrilling because we can’t imagine how he’ll survive, but once he does without injury, we subtly go “Oh, okay, physical danger in this movie isn’t a big deal, so we switch to “how will he do this”, as opposed to “will he make it”

Sunday, June 25, 2017

The Babadook: The Archive

A modern masterpiece.
Here's a question that got cut that I miss (I frequently regret cutting this question):
Are unrealistic genre-specific elements a big metaphor for a more common experience (not how life really is, but how life really feels)? 
Very much so.  The Babadook = The Dada Book.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Star Wars: The Archive

This was the first movie whose coverage I archived, but now I’ve archived the archive!
When I updated the checklist to version six, I lost some answers that were interesting from the longer checklist, so let’s put those here:
Are the physics of the world (realistic or stylized?) established early and maintained throughout?
The princess is hit by a laser and faints somewhat harmlessly. Horrible things will happen off-screen to characters we don’t care about, but characters we like will be hurt only in gentle ways, as in Obi Wan’s vanishing, which he accepts before it comes.  Even the choking is indirect, which makes it more chilling but less brutal to watch. 
Are set-up and pay-off used to dazzle the audience (and maybe distract attention from plot contrivances)?
Not really.  The plotting feels somewhat haphazard, without much payoff in this movie.  This isn’t necessarily bad: the shaggy-dog all-over-the-galaxy plot-progression is actually quite thrilling in an off-kilter kind of way.  We never cycle back around to anything (never go back to Tatooine, etc.) or cut ahead (introducing the rebel base before Luke gets there, etc.)