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Mad Max and Pixar Storytelling: Six Easy Pieces

edited June 2015 in The Toolbox
Dino posted this link in his worklog.
Some Mad Max spoilers here, but good post:
I thought this was an interesting expansion on ye olde three-act structure:
According to Pixar, every story can be broken down, from beginning to end, as following this sequence of events:

  1. Once upon a time there was
  2. Every day
  3. One day
  4. Because of that
  5. Because of THAT
  6. Until finally
Mainly it expands on Act One, laying out in more detail about setting the scene, and establishing what the status quo is that's about it be upset, then introducing the inciting incident at step 3, and step 4 then becomes the first turning point.  So Act Two follows, with Step 5 being the second turning point, followed by Act Three, which includes Step 6 as the climax and resolution.

Thinking about some of the stories I've been working on lately, they don't really fit this structure. My justification is that most of them are Tales, which are intended to be brief episodes, and don't have time to establish a status quo before getting right to the inciding incident that gets the story going.

The kind of focus this puts on that scene-setting also seems to contract the advice I hear frequently to "get in (start the story) as late as possible".  How much time should you spend on "once upon a time" and "every day"?

Comments

  • Do you think it's relevant that a lot of Act 1 for your stories has already been covered in previous stories? The readers already know about the "once upon a time/every day" part where your character is concerned.

    That frees you up to jump right into the action.

    Maybe...?
  • Just because you jump into a story at a later step doesn't mean that the earlier steps aren't implicit in the narrative. Watchmen, for example, arguable begins with step 3 and leaves the reader to pick up steps 1 and 2 through context. If I were to pitch Watchmen, I might lead with 1 and 2 ("...a world in which the explosion of costumed heroes after WWII has led to the outlawing of same, due in part to the existence of an actual super powered being," etc.) but the fact that you don't see that part of the story immediately fleshed out doesn't mean they aren't there.
  • edited June 2015
    In other words, the Pixar list seems to refer a story's content, but doesn't tie you to a particular order with regard to the story's structure.
  • Interesting. Michael Moreci posted something EXACTLY like this on his tumblr....
  • Interesting. Michael Moreci posted something EXACTLY like this on his tumblr....
    Linked to in the first post here, in fact.
  • In comics especially, a lot of that #1 and #2 context can be delivered visually. The way a character looks, their style of dress, the environment they're in, etc. can tell you a lot about them at a glance. No need to go into a lot of detail about how Joe Blow is a wealthy businessman if the first panel shows him wearing a 3-piece suit and sitting in a plush office.
  • Interesting. Michael Moreci posted something EXACTLY like this on his tumblr....
    Linked to in the first post here, in fact.
    It's a good comparison. Pixar makes some incredible stories, and Mad Max was a great flick too. It's an interesting comparion.
    Interesting. Michael Moreci posted something EXACTLY like this on his tumblr....
    Linked to in the first post here, in fact.
    Interesting. Michael Moreci posted something EXACTLY like this on his tumblr....
    Linked to in the first post here, in fact.

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