Jasmine's pond of dreams

Jasmine's pond of dreams

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Back to the Future story weave part 2

In order to weave the story of  Back to the Future, I identified all the key beats of the story. The next step is to label each beat for it's story line and how it functions in the story. Then we can color key each story thread to make it easier to follow.

It also might be cool to create icons for each function. This could be another important mapping tool to show you when you might need a song or have too much action and need to give the audience a break or maybe you're missing a symbolic death.

In looking at the beats of the story these are the functions that I identified:
Narrative questions. These are usually answered during the story with actions.
1. Problems
Setup information
Suggest a direction
Warnings or messages
Character emotions
Setup Ironic contrast
Trigger Action (TURNING POINT)
Set scene
2. Wrong action
3. Consequences
Obstacles, function as story-delays
Setup payoffs
Ticking clocks
False goal
4. Right actions The audience often cheers when this happens.
Symbolic death (TURNING POINT

Here's our chart once again. We have 4 progressions and 3 changes of direction.


A narrative question is a question that is implicitly raised by the actions of a story that leave the audience wanting to know the outcome. This is the key way we engage in stories. 
A narrative question and it's answer are the smallest unit of a story. Here is the formula:

? > .

I'll have more on this later when I get to the algebra of storytelling. Don't worry there's no math involved. (I wonder if you noticed the narrative tease.)

Here are the main narrative questions of Back to the Future:
Will Marty get away from the terrorists?
Will Marty get back to the future?
Can Marty get his parents together?
Can Marty get Doc the information to save his life?

There's also lots of smaller narrative questions.
Will Marty see the Plutonium?
Will Doc fall off the clock tower?
Was Einstein, the dog, disintegrated?
Can Doc get the plug back in in time?
Can Marty start the Delorean?
Bif introduces a whole lot of narrative questions as the main obstacle for the progress of the story.
For example, can How can Marty escape Bif in his car, while he's on an improvised skateboard?

Here are the main storylines:
The terrorists and theft of Plutonium.
Marty and Jennifer.
Marty goes back to 1955 and must return.
Marty interferes with his parents romance and must restore it, before he returns.
Bif is an obstacle for Marty and George's plans.
Doc creates the time machine and has to help Marty go back to the future.

I identified over 80 significant beats that tell the story of Back to the Future. In the next post, I'll write up the list of beats with their function identified. When I look at the list as text it appears that they all look the same. I think what I creating could be called "spatial writing", you can see the function of each part and where it fits in relation to the others as well as how the audience is responding to it. As Marty would say, "This is heavy".

And stay tuned for some Back to the Future trivia...

No comments:

Post a Comment