Monday, April 15, 2013

Story Development Steps (Draft)

Most writers just do some preliminary development then get started writing. This isn't a wrong way to do it but it does lead to massive and often painful rewrites. Rewrites are inevitable but for those who can stand to develop more thoroughly in the beginning I have provided some easy steps to make sure you have a strong story before you write a single word.

Steps in Developing a Story Before you write:
- decide on the type of story you want to tell. Check to see if it's a good idea.

At the heart of every successful story and movie are basic elements that make it work. When I am writing I like to makes sure I have all those elements working early in development so I can make sure I have a good story right away.  I use what I like to call "The Story Engine" for that. The story engine is the very heart of your story. If it is built well at the beginning it will power the rest of the development process and will drive the writing process. Whenever there is a problem with a script or a story it usually is a problem with the engine. Making sure you start with a good story engine is making sure you start with Gold.

The elements of the story engine in order:

Genres - The most basic type of story that you are writing. This will help you see the limitations of your story. More Info
Note Card: Emotional Genre, Contextual Genre, Medium/Delivery Platform, Target Audience, Rating
Functional Genre: Figure out 3 parts of each functional genre you choose. (pick 1 or 2)'

Plot Driving Characters:
Note Cards: Name (make it good), Critical Flaw, Super Power, Skills, Misbehaviors. Heartbeats/ArchetypesFunctions
Who is the protagonist who does the audience side with above all. who's story are we telling. in a multi protagonist story who is the 1st 2nd etc.
who has the arc? 

spine of the story

Premise, Concept, Setting, Backdrop, Tone, Basic Conflict - (Character vs Character, Self, Society, Nature, Fate)
Note CardWhat's the Tangible Goal of the Protagonist?

Picture the Climax:

I use The Coffee Break Screenwriter: Writing Your Script Ten Minutes at a Time over and over for its story brainstorming exercises. 

Title and Log lines - Short, Simple clear statements of what the story is about at it's core. Log Lines

Theme and Dilemma - What the story is really about and how the protagonist deals with it. More Info

Protagonist and Antagonist Conflict - The spine and main conflict of the story. More Info
What your char has to learn to defeat the antagonist:

Character Functions - How all the major characters function in the story relative to the protagonist and the overall story arc. More Info

Figure out Characters - really sculpt your characters so the are alive and are pertinent to the story. I have posted many articles on this blog to help with character development.

character intro

Basic Elements - Set up, Inciting Incident, Central Action (basic action), Rising action, Climax and Resolution


Basic Beats - fill in the 15 basic Blake Snyder beats (pitch these and revise until they REALLY shine.) If you filled in the Story Engine Well then you will find this stage to be quick.

Sequence Outline 

Step Outline - fill in the 40 major Dramtic Units (pitch these and work them out until they are FREAKIN AWESOME and you can see the script playing out)

Beat for a short filmHere

Scene Outline - Now you can start blocking out your scenes and double checking everything using the Object Method to build your plot.


Review what you have: go through and check through the green light checklist. Make sure every point is solid.

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