Shop Mobile More Submit  Join Login
×

Featured in Collections

Tutourials, memes lit by Puppy-eater


More from DeviantArt



Details

Submitted on
August 16, 2011
Link
Thumb

Stats

Views
1,534
Favourites
29 (who?)
Comments
52
×
(((I decided to just make a journal entry about this one, since there's really no drawing required here))))

The way I see it, if you're reading this, either you have a story you're working on or you're desperately trying to come up with one. Maybe it isn't coming together quite like you pictured it? Maybe there's too much to work with, or you have too many options to choose from? Maybe you're like many people and can't seem to come up with a good satisfying story no matter how hard you try!
Chances are, YOU ARE THINKING TOO HARD. Sure everyone wants to be the person who writes things like 'Inception' that are super complex and insightful and fun to watch/read/enjoy, but the point is that, when you boil a plotline down to it's basic elements, you should be able to summarize it in ten words or less.

Inception: Man is hired to deceive someone.

Think about it. Watch the movie again if you have to. The MAIN PLOTLINE of Inception is Leonardo DiCaprio's quest to make a guy think something that's not true at the behest of an Asian businessman. What about all that dream nonsense? WHAT ABOUT ADORABLE LITTLE JOSEPH GORDON-LEVITT??? Both of those things, though very important, are secondary to the main driving plot of the movie.

If you cannot take your giant space opera down to it's basics—a noun, a verb, and a direct object—you have a problem. The problem is you don't understand what your story is basically about. It has become so complex that you can't tell what's most important anymore: what's really driving the story.

But, at this point, if boiling it all down to ten words or less is a little too difficult, let's take a step back. Summarize your story in one grammatically correct sentence (aka, not a run-on sentence, that's cheating.)

Inception: At their employer's behest, a man and his team of specialists must infiltrate a budding business tycoon's dreams to stop his company's rise to power.

Now THAT sounds a little more like Inception. We have the dream element, we have a nod to adorable little Joseph Gordon-Levitt, but at this point we don't have names or other extraneous information. Names and subplots are tertiary in the summary hierarchy. In the noun-verb-object summary, we established the WHAT. WHAT is this story about. In the single-sentence summary, we established HOW (infiltrate dreams) and WHY (stop rise to power.) ALL OF THESE, ON A BASIC LEVEL, ARE MORE IMPORTANT THAT THE WHO, WHERE AND WHEN OF A STORY.

Too often people get caught up with a single character, wanting to write an entire epic around this singular figure, only to realize later on that their story is severely lacking in structure and reason. Too often people get caught up in a single place, wanting to build a world or universe, and the same thing happens. Too often people pick a point in history they really like but can't seem to create a story around it. Unless you plan to be the only person who enjoys your stories, you'll have to take a step back and think critically about your storytelling.

So, to recap, in order of importance:

WHAT (happens)

WHY (does it happen)

HOW (does it happen)

WHO (are the characters)

WHERE (does it happen)

WHEN (does it happen)

Fit your storyline into these parameters, and be as vague as possible. Continue to break it down further and further until you've reached the point where you can't simplify your sentence any further. Only then will you realize what is truly the most important thing in your story. Once you find THE MOST IMPORTANT THING, then you can begin building back outwards, adding information bit by bit, editing out the subplots and extraneous information that are cluttering your story. Use the noun-verb-object sentence as your center, and try not to lose it again.
Hope this was helpful and not just me banging on my keyboard for an hour. Next I'd like to post about creating actual plotlines! THE ACTUAL FUN STUFF!
  • Mood: Tired
  • Listening to: Modest Mouse
  • Watching: Tiger and Bunny
Add a Comment:
 
:iconwinters-feather:
Winters-Feather Featured By Owner Aug 28, 2011
Grr should have made this into a DA lit tutorial lol but this is great and dead helpful thanks :D
Reply
:iconthe-red-leper:
The-Red-Leper Featured By Owner Aug 22, 2011
Dear Mad,

I love you, that is all.



Rach
Reply
:iconscrambledmeg:
ScrambledMeg Featured By Owner Aug 22, 2011  Student
THIS IS SO HELPFUL! :iconcryforeverplz: I saw this picture and i have to share it so here. [link] (NAPOLEON BONAPUG!)
Reply
:iconzeikier:
Zeikier Featured By Owner Aug 21, 2011  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Saving this. I know a few people who could benefit from reading this, myself included.

Thanks a ton!
Reply
:iconmoonneko:
MoonNeko Featured By Owner Aug 21, 2011  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
This was actually one of the most helpful things I have ever read in reguards to starting/getting a story on tract. HOLY FUCKING SHIT THIS IS ME DX I need to simplify soo fucking bad it's not even funny ;_; Thankyou soo soo much for this, I really wish I could fav it too <3
Reply
:iconvyrilien:
Vyrilien Featured By Owner Aug 19, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I learned something today.
Reply
:iconazzen:
Azzen Featured By Owner Aug 19, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thank you so much for this.
Reply
:iconpinkceo:
pinkCEO Featured By Owner Aug 18, 2011
Thanks for the advice, the plot is definitely the hardest. It's weird to say the art comes second but I feel it does.
I want to fave this so much DDDX
Reply
:iconrrrugops:
rrrugops Featured By Owner Aug 18, 2011
Wisdom. Really enjoyed this.
Reply
:iconemi-alvi:
Emi-Alvi Featured By Owner Aug 18, 2011   Traditional Artist
Ahh, thanks a lot for the advice(s)! Comics/stories I wanna do are often about a single character, so making interesing plots can become very difficult.

... That might explain why I'm never comfort with 9 out of 10 projects I'm in.

But yes, thanks once again. :heart:
Reply
:iconasfollowsd:
AsFollowsD Featured By Owner Aug 17, 2011  Student
Well said. Too many people get carried away with their ideas, especially if there's some sort of self insertion going on.
Reply
:iconopals-landing:
Opals-landing Featured By Owner Aug 17, 2011  Student Artist
Would you say its better to already have an ending for your story or to have a general idea?
Reply
:iconlarkspur-kiwipickle:
Larkspur-KiwiPickle Featured By Owner Aug 17, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Oh you are magnificent, you are. :heart:
Reply
:iconmild-marrow:
mild-marrow Featured By Owner Aug 17, 2011
Good points. Reminds me of Save The Cat's tag line chapter.
Reply
:icondeannaechanique:
DeannaEchanique Featured By Owner Aug 17, 2011  Professional General Artist
holy shit, GOLD STAR FOR MAD
Reply
:icontehknoluv:
TehknoLuv Featured By Owner Aug 17, 2011  Student Traditional Artist
THANK YOU

work Backwards
Reply
:iconjamfisher:
JamFisher Featured By Owner Aug 17, 2011  Student
This is gold for people just starting out, everybody should see this.
No wait, not even just for people who are just starting out. So maybe we should just call it gold?
This is gold!
Reply
:icontheseventhofseven:
TheSeventhOfSeven Featured By Owner Aug 17, 2011
Thinking too hard is so true! I try to avoid inventing things, and gradually good ideas come to me :D
Reply
:iconkadendragon:
KadenDragon Featured By Owner Aug 17, 2011  Student General Artist
OMG That's really helpful :la:
Thank you!!!!!
Reply
:iconsuzuka-dono:
Suzuka-dono Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2011
Thanks for this, I think I've got an inkling of a start now.
Reply
:iconan-jing:
an-jing Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2011
Ahh!! I haven't even thought about it this way before. THIS IS GREAT THANK YOU SO MUCH. And now I am super looking forwards to the plotlines post *u*
Reply
:iconthebeardedmen:
theBeardedMEN Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2011  Student Filmographer
Wow what a great coincidence (well maybe it's because allot of people like me get caught up on this same point but), I didn't even know what this blog entry was about until I began reading and found out it was EXACTLY what I was struggling on for WEEKS with the preparations of a webcomic I am planning to start! Thank you allot for bringing out what was basically ESSENTIAL for my story to actually make sense and have more direction to it.
Reply
:icontoxictoothpick:
ToxicToothpick Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2011  Professional General Artist
Helpful. TOO BAD I ALREADY KNOW THIS STUFF BECAUSE I AM A GENIUS.
Reply
:iconanniedraws:
AnnieDraws Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2011
Very good advice! I'm excited to see more journals like this C:
Reply
:iconmuffinpoodle:
muffinpoodle Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thank you! This will be hugely helpful to me and me friend I think. I'm giving it a bash now and plan to discuss it with her soon -- we're cowriting a comic :D
Reply
:iconzukos-stalker:
zukos-stalker Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2011  Student Traditional Artist
You are a wise comicker, Mad.

P.S. I love you.

P.P.S. side note: once, my sister and I saw a commercial for the movie P.S. I Love You, and she turned to me, completely serious, and asked "Did that commercial just tell me to see a movie called Penis, I Love You?"
Reply
:iconcretsya:
cretsya Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2011
You are a wonderful person.
The best advice for creating stories and storytelling.
Thanks for taking the time to write this.
(Totally bookmarked this since I can't fav journals.)
Reply
:icontoerning:
toerning Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2011
I know it's been said, but this is the first journal I've actually felt justified a favorite.

I can't tell you how thankful I am to you for putting in the time and making this quick and easy for all of us. One of the greatest things about DA is all the knowledge out there people are willing to share. I know you probably paid money for this info, in terms of your education, and all I can give back is loads of love and hopefully the stories that come out of it!

:heart:
Reply
:iconhyperpanzer:
HyperPanzer Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2011  Student Digital Artist
Wow, this is just what I needed. Really, I can't write stories because I always come up with a lot of ideas and I don't know how to use them. I can't wait to read more of your advices :lol:
Reply
:iconstarssparks:
StarsSparks Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2011  Student Photographer
Even though I don't write stories, this is still great advice as a way to break down thoughts and characters and such, not to mention interesting to think about.
Thank you. :D
Reply
:iconjello-bomb:
jello-bomb Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Cheers Mad, really interesting!
Reply
:iconlynchly:
Lynchly Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
THANK YOU! This is VERY helpful to me!
Reply
:iconlightlybow:
LightlyBow Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2011  Student
THIS.
Thank you so much, I really needed this. I tend to get neck deep into characterization before I even have a plot figured out. THANK YOU.
Reply
:iconbrother-tico:
Brother-Tico Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2011  Professional Artist
Thank you so much for these tips and advices! :)

And I think I found the problem of my stories: I'm thinking too much in the beginning! Even if I'm trying to make a single story, I don't know where to start or how to start. Sometimes I get too stress out about it. That's my problem.
Reply
:iconaltophobia:
Altophobia Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2011
Thank you Mad! I look forward to the next journal!
Reply
:iconvuza:
Vuza Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2011  Student Digital Artist
My space opera story thanks you kindly.
Reply
:iconemruki:
Emruki Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2011  Professional Digital Artist
This needs to be a mandatory read for every kid who's struggling with their space opera.
Reply
:iconbigbigtruck:
bigbigtruck Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2011  Professional General Artist
This is a great post.
Reply
:iconnikki0417:
Nikki0417 Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2011  Student General Artist
Thank you! I have a reason to fav a journal!:dummy: I found this out the hard way when I was 16 and wanting to turn my epic saga into a webcomic. When I started building the webpage on drunkduck, I came to the summary section and realized I had absolutely no idea how to summarize my story in least than 5 pages.

I started telling myself that if I can't summarize a story in one paragraph or less, preferably less, it's way too complicated and needs revamping (if it can even be saved). I suggest the same thing to other people sometimes. So, I'm glad this is a rule of thumb other people use and I'm not just...pulling facts out my ass. DX
Reply
:iconwarnoon:
warnoon Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2011  Student Traditional Artist
Big words, Mad. Big words.

Also, very helpful!
Reply
:iconstrayflame:
StrayFlame Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2011   Traditional Artist
thank you very much for explaining this. it definitely gets me thinking and re-thinking my own comic. ive been meaning to redo its synopsis anyhow XP a couple things happen, but it's more like in arcs rather than one giant story. i tend to think of my comic as an anime lol. one plot at a time. helps me think who should appear first and all that jazz.
Reply
:iconmynameismad:
MyNameIsMad Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2011  Professional Traditional Artist
ahh, if it's meant to be a single related series I would still advise trying to put this into practice! It won't do if the final arc has nothing in common with the first!
Reply
:iconstrayflame:
StrayFlame Featured By Owner Aug 17, 2011   Traditional Artist
yeah, still trying to figure out some connections and such ^_^; thank you for the advice! i will def keep everything in mind~
Reply
:iconspacerocketbunny:
spacerocketbunny Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2011  Student General Artist
Thank you for this, this is actually the best advice I've ever received.
It's funny how things are so simple and easy and we always have to think of the complicated ways to go about it, yet the answer is right there staring us in the face.
This is fantastic, I think I'll go try this, no I definitely will do this.

Thanks again!
Reply
:iconzombiesmile:
Zombiesmile Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2011  Professional
excellent advice indeed. o;
I wish more people knew about the basic stuff in storytelling...!
Reply
:iconmisterr-grim:
Misterr-Grim Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2011  Student Traditional Artist
Wow, this is really good advice.
I'll keep this in mind and start simplifying my story, and I'll read your next tutorial too. :thumbsup:
Reply
:iconkyuubinu:
kyuubinu Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2011
Yaaaay!! Thank you :D

I REALLY wish you could fav journal entries.
Reply
:iconkingarbs:
kingarbs Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2011
God dammit, why can't I favorite journals. UGH.
Reply
:iconmynameismad:
MyNameIsMad Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2011  Professional Traditional Artist
I THINK YOU CAN NOW ACTUALLY, but i'm not sure how you do it :V
Reply
:iconemcaco:
EmCaCo Featured By Owner Aug 19, 2011
I think you have a little folders tab in your message center. You can make a new one, name it "favorites" and drag stuff into it. 8D
Reply
Add a Comment: