It's Not Rocket Science!
by George Peter Gatsis
2012 - 02 - 18
CREATING A GENERAL STORY TEMPLATE

There is writing a story and there is creating a story... Writing... well you write... you sit yourself down behind the old Smith Corona ( a typing aparatise a hundred years ago ) and you write a story. You use fancy word passages, complicated words, simple words... and even words least used so you can come off sounding like a Stephen King version of Good Will Hunting... or Daffy Duck... which ever comes first.

But how do you create a story? You need to PLAAAN it out. Yeah, yeah that's it! Plan it.

Below is what the basic Hollywood formula for creating a story... Many Bothan spies died for this information... Poor buggers, little did they know...

OUTLINE:

Step 1 : QUESTIONS

  • who are the characters?
  • what are they trying to accomplish?
  • who is trying to stop the main character?
  • what happens if the main character fails?

Step 2 : SET UPS

  • how is the main character alone in ACT 1
  • how is the main character a wonderer in ACT 2
  • how is the main character a warrior in ACT 2
  • how is the main character a hero in ACT 3

Step 3 : FORMULA

  • when the CHARACTER becomes a loner in ACT 1 ( A )
  • the CHARACTER goes on a quest to gather what he needs in ACT 2 ( B )
  • and discovers that ( C ) now happens in ACT 2
  • and he must respond by doing ( D ) in ACT 3
    • A = the LONER
    • B = the WONDERER
    • C = the WARRIOR
    • D = the HERO

APPLICATION:

Step 1 : QUESTIONS

  • who are the characters?
    • White Belt Guy
    • Teacher
    • Brown Belt Guy
    • Green Belt Girl
    • Evil Black Belt Guy
  • what are they trying to accomplish?
    • They are trying to stop Evil Black Belt Guy.
  • who is trying to stop the main character?
    • Evil Black Belt Guy is trying to stop White Belt Guy from stopping him.
  • what happens if the main character fails?
    • If Evil Black Belt Guy wins, his Franchise of Evil Dojo's will open up in every city in the world, which will teach evil Kung-Fu.

Step 2 : SET UPS

  • how is the main character alone in ACT 1
    • White Belt Guy's Teacher got killed by Evil Black Belt Guy.
  • how is the main character a wonderer in ACT 2
    • White Belt Guy goes searching for Kung-Fu-ers to help him defeat Evil Black Belt Guy.
  • how is the main character a warrior in ACT 2
    • White Belt Guy is taught by more experienced Kung-Fu-ers and falls in love with a Green Belt Girl.
  • how is the main character a hero in ACT 3
    • White Belt Guy confronts the more powerful Evil Black Belt Guy, who pulls out a gun and shoots Green Belt Girl and kills Brown Belt Guy... ( Why did he do that, you may ask... Because he is evil, why else. ) White Belt Guy defeats Black Belt Guy. The police arrive and arrest Evil Black Belt Guy. Ya-hoo!! No more Evil Dojo's!!!

Well theat's fine and dandy, but all Martial Art movies play out exactly the same... including Kung Fu Panda and Enter the Dragon... How does this formula apply outside the You-Killed-My-Teacher,-I-Must-Take-Revenge stories?

So let us try some examples from stories we all may know around North America...

Spider-Man (Marvel) :

  • how is the main character alone in ACT 1 :
    --- Peter Parker is an orphan and a nerd... Get's bitten by a radioactive spider... Get's the abilities of the spider.
  • how is the main character a wonderer in ACT 2 :
    --- Peter set's out to exploit his powers by making money any way he can.
  • how is the main character a warrior in ACT 2 :
    --- Peter's uncle Ben dies and Peter set's out after the badguy.
  • how is the main character a hero in ACT 3 :
    --- Peter discovers he has a greater purpose in life... With great power, comes great responsibility.

Superman (DC) :

  • how is the main character alone in ACT 1 :
    --- Kal El is rocketed to Earth. Adopted by kindly Kent farmers. Clark (Kal El) develops his abilities in secret.
  • how is the main character a wonderer in ACT 2 :
    --- Clark takes off into the 30th Century with the Legion of Super-Heroes.
  • how is the main character a warrior in ACT 2 :
    --- Clark's adopted father dies ( and adopted mother - depending which Superboy punched reality you many be currently in )
  • how is the main character a hero in ACT 3 :
    --- Clark sets out to Metropolis to join a great metropolitan newspaper and to fight for truth, justice and the American way.

DareDevil (Marvel) :

  • how is the main character alone in ACT 1 :
    --- Matt Murdock is blinded by a chemical spill. Matt's father dies.
  • how is the main character a wonderer in ACT 2 :
    --- Grows up learning how to live with his blindness.
  • how is the main character a warrior in ACT 2 :
    --- Stick teaches Matt how to use his blindness.
  • how is the main character a hero in ACT 3 :
    --- Matt becomes a lawyer and the crime fighter, DareDevil.

Batman (DC) :

  • how is the main character alone in ACT 1 :
    --- Bruce Wayne's parents die by a robber ( or Joker, etc... again, depending on what Superboy punched reality you are currently in )
  • how is the main character a wonderer in ACT 2 :
    --- Bruce grows up learning how to fight and use his mind for deductive processing.
  • how is the main character a warrior in ACT 2 :
    --- Gotham city is plagued by crime and to stop it, Bruce becomes Batman.
  • how is the main character a hero in ACT 3 :
    --- Batman strikes terror into the hearts of the criminals.

And now, the next example is quite possibly the GREATEST hero in the galaxy... if not the universe!

Star Wars (George Lucas) :

  • how is the main character alone in ACT 1 :
    --- R2D2 looses his captain during an imperial raid. He is entrusted with a message and escapes to the nearby desert planet, with his talkative friend - C3P0.
  • how is the main character a wonderer in ACT 2 :
    --- R2D2 splits up from C3P0, wonders the desert and is abducted by Jawas.
  • how is the main character a warrior in ACT 2 :
    --- R2D2 eventually plays the message for a hermit, and then is assisted by a group of people, to the rebel moon base.
  • how is the main character a hero in ACT 3 :
    --- R2D2 tells everyone how to defeat the Empire's deadliest weapon, gets in an x-wing fighter and keeps it working long enough for some snot-nosed farm kid to take a lucky shot at an exhaust port.

There ya go... Since there are sooooo many retelling of the origin stories... INCLUDING STAR WARS! ( Han shot first!) You can easily adjust your story to the formula and still come off sounding like you have a PLAAAAN... yeah, yeah that's it! I'm hip, I'm hip!

Sincerely,

George Peter Gatsis
http://www.georgepetergatsis.com/