On Techniques for Writing Stories

On Techniques for Writing Stories

Postby Clow » Fri Aug 10, 2018 6:28 pm

So, I've begun really considering trying to throw together at least an outline of a story that I would like to try and start writing sometime soon. I've done some brief research on how to kind of start throwing things together, and took a few notes, and I wanted to share some of the more interesting ones. I thought maybe you might find it cool, and maybe it might inspire you to try something yourself.

So, there are two things I want to share. The first is one of Pixar's writer's kind of guide to starting a story. It's pretty simply, honestly:
Stories should, at their most basic, occur in three acts. Setup, adventure, conclusion. We're gonna talk about act 1.
  • As implied, Act 1 sets up your world and your main character(s). Let the audience know how things work and who we're dealing with.
  • Act 2 should be the adventure, some sort of journey toward a goal. That journey is act 2.
  • You need to introduce your main character and give them something that drives them, something that the character cares about or some kind of passion. Something that they love the most or hold dearly.
  • The character should have a flaw which is born from that love or passion. It should be taken to an unhealthy extreme.
  • Establish "clouds on the horizon." Some kind of conflict needs to occur to set us off onto act 2. Set that up, foreshadow it. This something should somehow strip the character of their passion or what they care about, which has already been established.
  • Rub some salt in the wound. Make the world unfair. Something which builds on the main character's anxiety or worry about their passion.
  • Have that something which strips the passion away from the character occur.
  • Make a fork in the road. Have the character have a choice to make, and have them take the low road. The unhealthy choice. This sets us of onto act 2.

Here's an example: Toy Story.
  • Main character is Woody, his passion is being Andy's favorite toy.
  • His flaw born from that is how he's so vain and proud about that. Also he's kind of an asshole when faced with even a slight possibility of being replaced as his favorite toy.
  • The "clouds on the horizon" is Andy's birthday, and the possibility of him getting new toys/replacing old ones. A threat to Woody's status.
  • The threat or danger that takes away Woody's passion is Andy getting Buzz, and amazing new toy. This makes Woody feel displaced.
  • Salt in the wound is the scene where Woody challenges Buzz to prove he can fly, and by accident Buzz does. All of the other toys fall in love with him.
  • Woody's low-road choice was pushing Buzz out of the window, which lead to the other toys forcing Woody to go bring him back (the act 2).

Another example: Finding Nemo.
  • Marlin is the main character. His passion is his family. And later, Nemo, as an extension of that.
  • His flaw born from that is his insecurities and, later on, overprotectiveness.
  • The "clouds on the horizon" here is that inside the anemone is safe, but the open ocean is established as dangerous. The ocean is dangerous.
  • The thing which takes away Marlin's passion is the barracuda that eats his wife and all but Nemo's egg.
  • The salt in the wound is simply that the ocean, and the world, is just incredibly unfair. The movie rubs that in.
  • Marlin's unhealthy choice is being extremely overprotective of Nemo. This leads Nemo to swim out into the open ocean and get caught by a diver.

There are a lot of movies which seem to follow this formula for the setup.

Summary of this video, basically:

The second thing, which speaks for itself, is Pixar's 22 Rules of Writing a Story.


I've been playing around with these a lot. Probs need their own post, maybe later.
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Re: On Techniques for Writing Stories

Postby Forb » Sun Aug 19, 2018 12:40 am

I had this in my tabs I found it while I was cleaning up.


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Re: On Techniques for Writing Stories

Postby Clow » Wed Sep 26, 2018 7:07 pm

I'm slowly going though recordings of Brandon Sandersen's fiction-writing class he teaches at some college somewhere right now. I'll probably get to talking about it later, but even just the first lesson/session was super eye opening.

For now, one of these techniques I've been working on is #10 from Pixar: pick apart stories you like. I've taken some of my favorite things and done just that, and I wanted to share real quick. Just what series I have a strong attachment to in the order that I thought of them, and some of the things I thought of that makes me like them. I italicized things that stuck out to me.

[td]How much the crew cares for one another
World has its own interesting rules/Devil Fruit
Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon Overlord No Game No Life
Diverse cast
Lots of romance/multiple couples
Detailed world (very)
Lots of loyalty/friendship
Very D&D
Detailed world
Morally gray/evil protagonists
Characters with different opinions/alignments but same loyalties
Lots of loyalty
Interesting character relationships
World has its own complex rules
Chaotic neutral MCs
Good worldbuilding
Multiple interesting fictional races
Steph is BAE
True Detective Season 1 One Piece JoJo's Bizarre Adventure
Jumping timelines
Lovecraft influences
Character-driven drama
Two main characters have complicated relationship but rely on one another

Oh god I'll finish this later FORGIVE ME I WANT TO CLOSE THIS WINDOW.
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