I recently watched this great talk by Andrew Stanton when he addressed the TED conference. For those of you who don’t know, Andrew Stanton is the script writer for Nemo, A Bug’s Life, Wall-E and more recently, John Carter. This talk is short but covers some great aspects of story. I’ve summarised some of the most basic points below but I would suggest that you go and take a look for yourself (warning: the talk contains some bad language).
- Every moment is leading to a “punch-line”. Every moment is preparing the reader for that final climax.
- Make the audience care.
- Unifying theory of 2+2... Let the audience put things together.
- Character has a deep underlying motivation (even if it’s unconscious). What drives your character? (See my post on What your character needs)
- Change is fundamental in story. William Archer - Drama is anticipation mingled with uncertainty.
- Storytelling has guidelines not hard fast rules.
- Characters with flaws can still be likeable.
- Theme pulls everything together and echoes throughout every scene.
- The secret sauce: can you evoke wonder? (when an artist does that to another artist you feel compelled to pass that on – Andrew Stanton)
- Use what you know – draw from it. Capture a truth from an experience.
I haven’t yet seen John Carter and I’ve read such mixed reviews about it. Some people are hailing it as a throw-back to old school science-fiction while others are calling the actors wooden and the story thin and full of holes. Either way, I’m still looking forward to seeing another imagined world. I suppose I’m just too hungry for science-fiction to be too picky and after watching this talk by Andrew Stanton I have to admit I’d simply like to support his artistic endeavours – however thin and holey they might be. I find it difficult to judge art knowing pieces of someone’s heart went into it. That’s probably why I’ll never be a critic of any kind.
One of my favourite movie critic’s (and author) is Jeffery Overstreet (you can read his interview on this website here) had some interesting views on this film which you can read here.
I know this post has been all over the place but that’s a little of what is happening in my brain right now – threads of spider-web that are spiralling out in every direction but are somehow linked together. That’s what happens when I get stuck into my stories.