Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Media Production Experience: Storytelling and Screenwriting

My relationship with story has evolved significantly over the last ten years.  I used to feel like stories were things you had to find, and now I view them more as a facet of reality that you have to see. Everything and everyone has a story (or many), and the trick is to draw it out, and to craft it into something emotionally compelling.  The drama in fictional stories is always informed by the stakes of lived experience.

Fun date night with this boy last night to see Shrek the musical at Lehi High. Mindy, they are lucky to have you there! #sir_o #lehipioneers

Certainly one useful method of drawing out and crafting a story is to follow a traditional plot arc, and if you allow for a variety of stakes to be still worth telling a story about, then most stories with an "end" can easily land here. But a story arc and its components are not enough to explain what makes a story "work."

While I think I'm reasonably proficient at enjoying well told stories in a variety of mediums, I don't consider myself a proficient storyteller.  I blame my tendency to rush things, which can in turn be blamed on my very demanding life.  I tell a lot of stories - largely to my kids or on my languishing personal blog, but not with the sort of captivation that I recognize in stories that I love to consume.

I recognize that in my typical rushes, a large part of what I'm missing is appropriate pacing and illustrative detail. If I can draw out suspense, increase the stakes, and reveal character and do more foreshadowing through specific, sensory details, it'd go a long way.

I actually find screenwriting to be a relieved way of telling a story for me, largely because the pressure of executing visual details and of pacing would both fall to someone else in telling the actual story. But, conversely, there is a difficulty in screenwriting, in that the creator of a screenplay is not at liberty to realize their vision, and what a director perceives, followed by what is actually produced are both bound to differ by degrees from a writer's original thought.  The decrease in ownership of the story is potentially complicated.

However, for the purposes of this class, nobody but myself is likely to have a desire to execute anything I write, so I can write as though I am creating an outline for myself, in an effort to organize a conceptual story into an executable project.  There is certainly a danger of including too little information in the screenplay under these conditions, but it seems that that would be a lesser evil than including too much.

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