Without Fear

Ryan K Lindsay – Writer

Case A –> Case B –> Case C –> Etc.

Got CAVERNS OF THE SNOW WITCH down from the shelf for a play with the kids recently, and it’s a ripper of a book, but it also gave me a solid little lesson.
It’s a small storytelling lesson, but it’s something I enjoyed being reminded of: Start your story/quest/adventure/case/crime small. Here, you go out to hunt a yeti. From there you avenge a fur trapper and hunt a Snow Witch. Along the way, there are other small parts, you meet a servant elf who wants to be freed. It’s all these little pieces leading you towards the end, and not just you setting out to kill a witch. It’s a great way to go, and it plays into crime structure well. You start by investigating case A, but it leads into Case B, and while A is solved, you learn enough to connect it to Case C, and that’s the big case. And if your character doesn’t figure it out, then you have an NPC wander in and bring some small element, and it leads to Case C.¬†Reminds me of the Pixar rule: coincidence to get your character into trouble is fine, but you can’t use it to get them out.
It’s something¬†I’ll take into my D&D planning, that escalating narrative scale, but also into my own writing. And again, this isn’t something new to me, but it’s nice to be reminded. I don’t always carry every one of the 22 Pixar Rules in my head, no less all the thousands of other things I’m supposed to know and use, so a refresher is always welcome.

Story Clocks! Spiders and Lego

I love the Story Clock notebook from Plot Devices. I’ve got the notebooks, I’ve used them, I use the concept in my own storybreaking, and I read every single one they post on their site.
The concept is, you map a story from beginning to end on a wheel, and then you see how things line up, or space out, or get callbacks at certain times. Often, the best flicks have these great structures built in with symmetry of action and occasions.
I never like to be told a regimented way to tell a story, but I love beauty when it appears naturally in the world, and this is that. It’s not one way, it’s just celebrating the ways that got it right.
So tickle me webbed to find out they’d recently done SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE – only one of the greatest films from the past decade. I love this flick, and shocking no one I had actually just recently mapped out the story of this flick in my own notebook, but had yet to make it pretty, and then they drop this, saving me the effort. But the act of mapping it out was fun, i could see how everything lined up in special little ways.
And then they drop another one on us for THE LEGO MOVIE, and I have yet to sit down with this one laid out in front of me, but I know I dug that flick, and I like the creators of both flicks [the very same creators] so I’m down to check this out.
If it helps you map out your next story, that’s aces. I like it for that call back structure, seeing when things from the first act can finally come back in a way that’s got the most impact. It’s so cool.
Plus, while you’re on the site, scope out the other clocks, the DIE HARD and THOR: RAGNAROK ones stand out fresh in my mind as absolute *chef’s kiss* perfection.
If you’ve got any other structure style hacks you know of, please share them with me. I use this and a Five Act Struture breakdown and they keep me mostly in line and sane.
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