the basics of story

“There is no agony like bearing an untold story inside you.”
― Zora Neale Hurston

With our first episode we just wanted to sit down and have a chat about the basics of story.

Here’s and overview of what we discuss in the video:

Pick your genre
This shouldn’t limit you, but it’s never a bad idea to have a general direction picked out. Feel free to mix and match genres.

Have a point
Your story needs to have purpose your audience can grasp – echo your themes.

Emotional response
What do you want your audience to take away from this story? Be sure it’s going to stick with them after the credits roll.

Stereotypes & clichés
By understanding them you can easily avoid them, or even better, bend them to your will.

Know your conflict
Knowing what is truly driving your story will allow you to better serve it.

Let us know what you think of the episode. What are some troubles you have faced when trying to start a story?

35 comments on “the basics of story
  1. Avatar of Andy Ainsworth

    *gives big high five @ORyan*…*thunder is heard rolling across the plains*
    We did it!

  2. Avatar of Zdenek Ruzicka

    Good recap of basics, liked it :) You guys did well. Looking forward to the next episode. Also really nice to see yo’ faces!

  3. Avatar of Matthew Ellis-Johnston

    Nice video. (:
    Informative without being overly complicated…I guess that’s why they call them basics.
    +10 points for the Battle Bear tee.

  4. Avatar of JoelLyon

    Awesome frist episode :) This website is going to do great things :) Also love the Olan Rogers shirt haha

  5. Avatar of Alexander de Freitas

    I enjoyed this a lot though I would’ve wanted to understand the stereotypes and cliches a bit more (examples, types of cliches, etc…) maybe you can do that in a later episode. But I am very excited to learn more from the upcoming videos.

    • Avatar of O'Ryan McEntire

      Oh, we plan on going in depth on all of these subjects, including the stereotypes and cliches subject, as it’s a biggie. Probably will take an episode or two plus a few blog posts to properly cover that specific topic.

  6. Avatar of Josh Bailey

    Nice work guys!

    Lots of good stuff and I’m really looking forward into diving into it all! A couple things that stuck out to me, here:

    –Making sure your story has a point. This is something I struggle with in writing sometimes, I tend to swing too far to one end; either the story is pointless, or it feels too much like the characters and plot where just a gimmick to make a point. In the same way, a story can have so much emphasis on plot that it seems like the characters were just an afterthought (like you were saying, a movie that’s just trying to confuse the heck out of the audience). I think it can take a while to find that nice balance between characters, plot, and point, where it finally all blends together [like a nice Filmpunch ;) ] and it doesn’t feel like one of those elements is getting shortchanged.

    –And to add on to your great points about finding originality in your story, I’m going to steal this quote from Xander Bennett who gives out daily tidbits of screenwriting advice on his blog called “Screenwriting Tips You Hack”:

    “There are no original ideas, and nothing new under the sun… except you. Your voice, style and execution are unique, and uniquely valuable.”

    Can’t wait to see more!

    • Avatar of Andy Ainsworth

      That is a great quote Josh! Thanks for the kind words :)

      In regards to over-complicating your story, this is usually done for the sake of the director or writer wanting their audience to perceive them or their piece as intellectual or revolutionary; where, at best, it’s just plain ol’ confusing. You hear this word tossed around quite frequently, but it’s what you’ll look like if you tell stories like this: pretentious. And no one wants to be attached to that word.

      Audiences cling to short concise dialogue, not overly flowery embellishments to how a character would actually perceive or say something. Think about all the best quotes you know and love, they’re usually pretty short, but just as powerful as any well-written speech. The same can be said of your stories. The story with a theme that is carefully reiterated or evolves to a logical or a believable conclusion that leaves room for processing—those are the ones that stick with us.

  7. Avatar of Lane Carter

    Battle Bear shirt. I like it.

    But seriously, great episode. Can’t wait to get deeper into certain topics.

  8. ryan malone said

    This is a great video :) I can’t wait till more upcoming videos, this already helped with a project I have coming up in school

  9. Avatar of Vince Garbarino

    Vonderful Video! ;) Greatly outlined and clean and to the point! Even this video has a point that had sub point that lead back to one main point!

    Might I add something to this coming from a Musicians stand point?

    As a film scorer I have recently become obsessed with the story aspect of film, and I completely agree with FP here when they lay out these VERY important points. When I write my music, I have these 5 points in mind. I believe that, in order to score a impactful score to a film, you must first understand the goings-ons in film writing!

    Just a few words I feel are important for those wanting to get into scoring like I was. I take a lot of inspiration from Michael Giacchino views in Story-Writing along side with “Story-Scoring” as I have termed it.

    Thanks again for the video and cant wait to see more and some collaborative work!
    -Vince Garbarino

    • Avatar of O'Ryan McEntire

      Great points @vincegarbarino, I personally come from a music background and agree with you. Even if your not writing music for a film, you should still have some sort of story. It’s something that sets you apart from all the other noise out there.

      In music the story has to be a bit more raw and accessible emotionally. Because there is only one sense that is being stimulated, you need to be choicier with your movements. A simple change in augmentation or suspension of a chord can mean the difference between dark and melancholy or inspiring happiness.

      I think if we could take this mentality into Film it would be awesome. To understand the effect that a cant in the image plays off the pulsing cello, or how the subtle blue in the background makes the pinks in a beautiful girl’s face stand out, or how following our actor from above and his weary cautious gate down the hallway makes our audience tense with anticipation. It all has to be a carefully orchestrated event or it has the potential to lose all meaning in a blur of colors and sound.

  10. Avatar of Chase

    can you do something on vfx?

  11. Great 1st episode guys. I’ve been loving the site so far. Keep up the great work. I’m the same as y’all, I’ll share what I learn.

  12. Avatar of Tana Stevens

    Great job, guys! You had a lot of really interesting and useful information here, and it’s great to see the two of you face-to-face, rather than just a thumbnail next to a username!

    My only bit of constructive criticism (and this could just be my own short attention span) is to suggest that you consider breaking future episodes into smaller segments. All of the information provided here is totally relevant, but about halfway through I found myself drifting a bit.

    Not trying to be the “bad guy” here, but thought I should mention a little something so it’s not all “good job guys, way to go!” Although you do both deserve congratulations.

    Love you both!

  13. Matthew said

    Battle Bear

  14. Avatar of Austin Curzon

    Great first episode!

    The point about film cliches was a big help for me; I definitely pick up on them when watching a film but I hadn’t ever thought about manipulating them to enhance a story and keep the audience watching.

    I’ve ‘quested’ through the site and I love the inspire section. Haven’t spent much time in the forums yet but I plan to start contributing soon!

    I’m expecting great things for the future of Filmpunch, keep up the good work!!

    (Love the Olan Rogers shirt, by the way)

  15. Avatar of Kiah Graham

    First of all that was an awesome first episode! Props to you guys! Secondly HOLY CRAP ANDY you have the Olan Rogers Battle Bear shirt! Dude! Wearing mine right now!

  16. Avatar of Margaret Zimmerman

    This is such an awesome resource! It’s really cool what you’re doin’ here. Glad I signed up. :D

  17. Ben Van Holstyn said

    Battle Freaking Bear!!!

  18. Avatar of Jonathon Keeler

    That was a good episode. Very informative. But most importantly ANDY WAS WEARING A BATTLE BEAR SHIRT!!!!!

  19. Avatar of Alex Coulombe

    LOVED the little time lapse at the end. Feels like a the bonus disc of a DVD :)

    Great job introducing the purpose of the site, the videos, and those basic story points. The cliche/stereotype discussion is an important one– a cliche can be particularly powerful in the hands of someone who knows how to subvert expectation by knowing what people think will happen, then taking it in a more nuanced direction instead.

    Audiences today, after all, are smarter than they’ve ever been. Thanks to Netflix, DVR, Youtube plus the narrative-oriented direction video games are going, people are familiar with just about every kind of story possible (and have consumed them all in massive quantities), so they know exactly where a premise is headed if you’re not careful.

    Curious– how do you guys feel about voice-overs/narrators? Lazy device, or valuable tool for the ‘man versus himself’ introspective film?

  20. Avatar of Alex Coulombe

    (also looking forward to more of these when you guys find the time)

  21. Avatar of Andy Ainsworth

    If the voiceover is written well, it can be simply a character development tool, or an artful way to disseminate useful information. The risk is being didactic and explaining everything, because, as you stated, the audience should be given more credit – people aren’t as stupid as they seem to be (not all the time at least ;) ).

  22. Avatar of Ken Dickerman

    Where is this warehouse you guys filmed this in? It looks like a great space!

  23. Avatar of Ken Dickerman

    Also, who did the graphics for your filmpunch intro and outro? I’m looking for someone to do a graphic intro/outro with my Fresh Meat Studios logo for my YouTube videos.

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