Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Story structure

For structuring the overall plot, I've been searching on how stories are generally structured. There is a lot of theory and research on this, going all the way back to Aristotle's writing on the Three Act Structure in his work, Poetics. The structure he describes which was applied to ancient Greek drama basically includes a beginning, middle and end. This later was adapted to include two more acts, these were defined by playwright Gustav Freytag as exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and dĂ©nouement/resolution/revelation/catastrophe. This is seen visually as 'Freytag's pyramid.' Although this was written in relation to Greek drama and not for modern drama, it is still an essential part of storytelling to think about. 

'You’ll need to have a beginning, middle and end to your screenplay, which may not mirror the book. Most novels have diversions, back stories and deep character development. These don’t serve any purpose in a screenplay, but you should be intimate with them as you shape your story. My analogy has always been steam cleaning a rug in a room. You take all the stuff out of the room, clean the carpet, and then only put back what is necessary. The rest you can put in storage.' (source)

I have become very familiar with the original fairytale now, which is helping me to figure out the character's actions/emotions and plan out the story for the film. But a
s I've never actually created an original finished piece with a narrative, I have relatively little understanding on how to tell a good story.

An important part of storyboarding is figuring out how well the narrative is working and 'feeling' - is it structured evenly, does it make sense, does it satisfy the viewer or leave them feeling confused? After finishing my first set of storyboard (seen in my previous post, video titled 'old animatic') I decided I wasn't happy with how the narrative was (or wasn't) working, the pace of the whole thing felt completely off to me. I wanted to clarify it and make it feel more well thought out.

My breakdown / treatment of the story can be read here, for presentation purposes I plan on adding storyboards with each paragraph to illustrate what I've written, though I made the writing very descriptive in itself to try and paint an image in the reader's mind.

Anyway, I feel that I've simplified the tale and have parts of the plot which can fall roughly into the different parts of the pyramid.

Exposition: The witch finds the scroll and makes the two beings. There is a montage of them growing older which establishes their personalities.

Rising Action: The titular characters sense that 'something is missing' and hesitate with the option of leaving their comfort zones to experience darkness/the outside world for the first time. Nycteris begins to ascend the staircase from her chamber. Photogen steps deeper into the forest as the sun starts to set.

Climax / turning point / crisis: Photogen has his intense scary experience in the forest while Nycteris is overcome with wonder.

Falling action/denouement: 
 They meet. There is the revelation, shown through the amulet, that they are related. They overcome their fear of each other and turn to face sunrise together.

As it does end somewhat on a cliffhanger showing the rising sun and suggesting that Nycteris is about to face it for the first time, there isn't really that much of a conclusion, but I hope that the general idea of them being reunited and the overarching moral of 'learning to be unafraid' is clear. 

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