Tuesday, March 24, 2009


The Art of the Story is the shaping of the story. It involves FORM.

Form presupposes an understanding of the nature of the dramatic experience as expressed through the interactions of characters, only some of which exist inside the script. It also presupposes a storyteller/artist that has developed a facility for allowing the characters to become whatever it is that is in them to become based upon their problems, goals and objectives.

FORMULA, on the other hand, is the blind replication, with minor variation, of existing stories and “story recipes”. Because formulistic stories repeat familiar narrative patterns they often come across as stale, simplistic or predictable, unless special care is taken to confound the audience's expectations in some fresh and unusual way. One could – and many do – make a career out of “copying” earlier models without ever understanding the deeper significance and power of the dramatic experience.

Story structure – its grammar – whether it be found in fables, myths or epics is essentially the same; but possessing a facility for grasping and applying one’s understanding of the grammar will not necessarily guarantee a story that is fresh and credible.

It is the DREAM that surrounds the shape that is important. And the DREAM demands CHARACTERS. What do the characters “dream” about? What do they want? Why do they want it? Who or what is stopping them from getting it and why? And, most importantly, what are they going to DO about it?

Formula is what we resort to whenever we ignore the dream. It is, indeed, ignorance of the dream; whereas Form invites us to ENTER the dream in such a way that we can pass it on to others without it losing its intrinsic emotional power.

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