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So I was up bright and early for Day 2 despite a few Talent Campers meeting for a drink and a meal the night before. Day 2 was more focussed on television. Linda discussed how often Producers will ask for story ideas related to a theme. This reminded me of the Writers Panel with Ben Blacker podcast featuring Glen Gordon Caron being asked to write 3 pilots in quick time. Linda's advice was to ride the panic, buy time and avoid cliches.
In this film, we have 3 interweaving stories, each revolving around a car crash. Each story begins with their protagonist's viewpoint of the crash, but it's a different moment in each of their stories, for
- Story 1: its the 2nd Act Turning Point
- Story 2: it's the Inciting Incident
- Story 3: it's 1st Act Turning Point
The Butterfly Effect
This also features 3 stories. This seems to be the norm. I guess it works for Three Little Pigs.
e.g. 21 grams, The Hours, Babel, is often used to tell stories that would be too slow if told conventionally. For instance, 21 grams has a long first act but almost no second act. A way to structure your story if you take an approach like this is to use a grid. Each row is a scence and each column is a story.
The Hours keeps a feeling of dread the whole through. Similar to Waiting for Godot. In Babel, the dread passes from story to story. The Hours is 3 1st Acts and 1 3rd Act.
Reasons to consider non-linear narratives
- Story is exposition heavy
- It's didactic or predictable
- A tired genre
- A long series/serial
e.g. Casualty. Episodes are usually 50 minutes and the patients should resonate in some way with main characters. They are usually 30% location, 20% set 1, 50% set 2. When writing, consider
- Think of the budget
- Create and interweave stories
- You have limited sets, locations and time
- Night shoots may be impossible
- Each ep has similar style, plot and audience
- Remember season and character arcs
- Span 3 days max
The 3 stories:
- A 18 scenes
- B 12 scenes
- C 6 scenes
Remember: Pace, Connection, Meaning and Closure
Series/Serials are group stories even if there is 1 central character. It's the only way to sustain them. Forms include hunted and hunter as well as siege, quest or reunion. Often open on Second Act Turning Point. Main character carries a burden (or loss as John Yorke would say).
- Main action in present
- Second action in present but smaller
- Relationships in present
- Action line in past
- Relationships lines in past
Other options: flashforwards. Suspensful and can be used to mislead. Flashback to inciting incident then back and forth, showing differnet options/povs. For instance, Catch 22 starts on Second Act Turning Point and jumps back to inciting incident at key moments, showing a bit more.
We also went over some of the shows in more detail from Day 1. I left just before the end as we did some brainstorming on how to write an existing show from a different angle.