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Friday, July 24, 2009

Four Pillars of the Story

As I go along writing The Story Template, I thought I'd share a few tidbits now and then of what I'm working on. Today I'm going to talk about the four pillars of a story.

Each story develops a premise from one of these four pillars. They are:

Story World

Four quick examples of movie premises:

Story World: Fellowship of the Ring
Plot: Iron Man
Theme: Facing the Giants
Character: Forest Gump

Many stories, especially the throw-away kind, develop only one pillar, most likely plot. We've all experienced these stories: they're fun to go through, but you're never tempted to read or watch them again since you already know the trick. Some examples might be an Agatha Christie mystery, or a hard-core action/adventure film. However, as I've been reflecting on these, I am appreciating that the more pillars that are strong in a story, the more gripping it becomes.

I've arranged these pillars based on two axes: Outer or Inner Story, and Concrete or Abstract. Let's see if I can line them up in a table, like this:

..........................Concrete ....................Abstract

Outer Story ............PLOT .................STORY WORLD

Inner Story ........CHARACTER ..............THEME

The Concrete pillars, Plot and Character, are the easiest to do. However, for your story to resonate you really need to strengthen ALL of these, work on parallels between, and weave them together.

All right, that's all for tonight; I'm pretty tired :-) Have a great day!


KM Wilsher said...

I have to study this, Amy. I've got to get a better handle on it.
I write, write, write and then trash it and start again write, rewrite, rewrite. . .Thanks for the help!

Anne L.B. said...

Amy, your writing tips have been so beneficial to me. They have so much structure in them. I think the best art starts with science and makes it what it could never be alone.