A few notes on storytelling from Ted Stearn

 

Since I’ve been doing a lot of writing lately, I thought I would share some notes that my old comics professor & mentor, the great Ted Stearn [of Fantagraphics’ Fuzz & Pluck] gave out during Advanced Storyboarding. It’s pretty straightforward stuff, but they’ve been really helpful to have in front of me and keep in mind.

A few notes on storytelling:

Give each character motivation. What do they want? How will they get it?

Many stories revolve around conflict, whether internal or external, that must somehow get resolved.

Generally, a good story balances keeping it clear enough that they understand what is happening, but not revealing it all, so the viewer wants to find out more.

When concluding your story, don’t be obvious. If I can guess what’s going to happen next, I will lose interest. Beware of cliches that can become predictable and thus, boring.

Every scene, every shot, every pose, every scene transitions, and all the dialogue should either advance the plot or reveal something about the character that is important to the theme of the story. If they don’t, they are probably expendable.

Make sure your story has an internal logic. That is, everything that happens is believable in the context it is presented. I don’t mean realistic, I mean believable. For example, a character should not react in a way that would directly contradict that I understand about his/her personality.

One thought on “A few notes on storytelling from Ted Stearn

  1. Good list! You could take a whole book to say it, but there it is.

    “Every scene, every shot, every pose, every scene transitions, and all the dialogue should either advance the plot or reveal something about the character that is important to the theme of the story. If they don’t, they are probably expendable.”

    I remember this idea first coming to mind after watching Nemo.

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