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CUBBY WRAP UP!
Let’s take a look at what we’ve covered:
It’s the beginning of your story. A “what if” fantasy that will be explored through four distinct phases:
- Neutral (you’re just establishing that “what if” fantasy)
These four phases will directly coincide with the four acts of your story.
- Act 1 = neutral, established, fantasy.
- Act 2 = positive aspects of your fantasy.
- Act 3 = negative aspects of your fantasy.
- Act 4 = resolve the fantasy.
Your main character, and your major supporting characters, should all have a collection of traits:
- Individual flaw – a weakness that affects just the character.
- Moral flaw – a weakness that affects other characters.
- Arc – the character changes over time, from one thing to another.
- Ghost – something from the character’s past that still haunts them.
- Passion – something the character really cares about.
- Identity – how the world sees the character.
- Essence – who the character really is, under the surface.
- Emphasized cubby – a part of the story that is being exemplified by the character(s).
- Character web – all the characters will share a common trait, connecting them in a web.
The world of your story has four concerns:
- Location (with a metaphor)
- Time Period
Where’s it take place?
What’s the reality of this place like?
What’re the limitations the time period puts on it?
How long does the story span?
When making a moral argument you have three different methods:
- Four Point Alternation
Pro/Con – you argue the positive, and the negative, of one particular idea.
The death penalty’s bad.
The death penalty’s good.
Inverse – you argue one statement and its opposite.
Guns should be universally banned.
No they shouldn’t.
Four Point Alternation – you basically argue one idea vs another.
You do this by focusing on a particular statement for idea 1, as well as its opposite. And a particular statement for idea 2, and its opposite.
Marriage is the natural state for humans.
No it isn’t.
Bachelorhood is the natural state for humans.
No it isn’t.
One main primal desire, that is then broken up into sub-desires.
One sub-desire for each act of your story. These sub-desires act as stepping stones on the path to the main desire.
There are four different categories of conflict:
- Man vs. Man
- Man vs. Self
- Man vs. Nature
- Man vs. Society
You should have one main overall conflict:
Say: “Man vs. Man.”
Then sub-conflicts that incorporate the other three categories. One sub-conflict per act.
Main conflict: Man vs. Man
- Act 1 = Man vs. Self emphasized.
- Act 2 = Man vs. Nature emphasized.
- Act 3 = Man vs. Society emphasized.
- Act 4 = Man vs. Man emphasized.
There are three different methods of revelation:
“Question and Answer” Method:
A specific question is raised, with a limited number a possible answers, and then that question is answered.
Will he take the job?
Eventually a decision is made.
“Mystery and Reveal” Method:
A mystery is established, with unlimited possible answers, and then that mystery is solved when the answer is revealed.
Who is the killer?
- Billy Bob
- Etc, etc, etc.
Eventually the killer is revealed.
“Unknown Surprise” Method:
Shocking information is revealed, without any previous indication.
“I’m moving to France!”
Then there are many different types of revelation:
- Character revelation: a revelation is presented to a character.
- Audience revelation: a revelation is presented to just the audience.
- Self revelation: a character has a revelation about themselves, as part of their arc.
- Story twist revelation: a revelation that is so massive, it changes your entire perception of the story up until that point.
You should have one major revelation near the end of each act, ideally at the turning points.
“Story twist” revelations are usually saved for act four, but they can be moved if need be.
There are eight different genre tones:
- Comedy = happy
- Tragedy = sad
- Drama = serious
- Farce = silly
- Action = exciting
- Horror = scary
- Romance = idealistic
- Erotica = sexy
An emotional theme that is primal, yet complex.
You want to explore both the positive and negative sides of this emotional theme with sub-expressions. Smaller emotional ideas that are related to the overall theme.
One sub-expression for each act, while the main theme runs through the entire story.
An intellectual theme based in a stimulating and thought-provoking idea.
You then want to explore this theme through sub-expressions, one per act.
Most stories have an “A” plot with a smaller “B” plot. But you could also have a “C” or “D” plot.
What are the specifics of your narrative’s traits?
- linear or non-linear?
- If non-linear, then are you using any of the following:
- Co-Current Timelines?
- If so, then you want to use an anchor.
- If so, is it a narrator or an internal monologue?
- If a narrator, then is it in the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd person
- Is the narrator inside or outside of the story?
- Is it justified or unjustified?
- Is it speaking in the past tense or present tense?
- Is it verbal or text?
The particular way in which you execute the other cubbies of your story.
It gives your story its unique identity. A useful short hand is the “fill in the blank” method:
Your story is a:_____________.
25 steps total.
- Set up
- Inciting Incident
- Raise the Dramatic Question
- Debate and Decision
- Turning Point 1
- B Plot Introduction
- Commitment Confirmed
- Turning Point 2
- B Plot Convergence
- New Plan
- Point of Desperation
- Turning Point 3
- B Plot Resolution
- Final Plan
- Darkest Hour
- Self Reflection
- Race to Climax
- New Equilibrium
Symbols are when you use one thing to represent something else, or a constellation of other ideas.
There are three different types of symbols:
Visual symbols = something you see.
Ex: mailboxes representing home.
Auditory symbols = something your hear.
Ex: rushing water means impending danger.
Action symbols = something that happens.
Ex: the act of playing catch means two people are connected like family.
Moments create a sense of reality. Making your story feel real, instead of manufactured.
Two main ways of creating moments:
- Intentional Flaws
- Extraneous Beats
Intentional flaws = any imperfection on the part of a character that makes them seem more human.
Ex: bumping into a door or misspeaking.
Extraneous beats = a beat added to your story that isn’t absolutely necessary to the plot, but makes your characters feel more real.
Ex: having a character check to see if their gun is loaded three times, just to make sure.
You want to have one major moment that defines the soul of your story. It’s the moment in your story that captures the essence of what this entire tale has all been about.
Ex: father and son fishing on the lake at sunset.
That’s it Animals! All of the cubbies in one go!
As your emotion cubby was the heart of your story, your intellect cubby is the brain.
You need to incorporate into your story a theme that is intellectual in nature.
An interesting and thought-provoking idea. What kind of stuff?
Something related to science, philosophy, technology, math, pattern recognition, economics, social sciences – whatever.
The most effective intellect lines take the form of philosophical questions.
Big, unanswerable questions that really make an audience think.
The reason these work, is because there is no one right answer – it’s a question that’s meant to be mulled over long after the story is done. An idea that’s just as interesting to consider fully and deeply, as it would be to come to any specific conclusion.
Like questioning the nature of reality.
We see this in The Matrix, Inception, and Vanilla Sky.
But most of the intellect lines you see are a bit more straight forward. They are usually just interesting ideas that are intellectually stimulating.
Like examining the “american dream.”
We see this in The Great Gatsby and American Beauty.
Once you have an idea worth talking about…
Isolate the central overarching theme, then express it in different forms throughout the course of the story.
Sound familiar? The easiest way to do this, is to follow the four act structure.
Say your intellect line is: examining the limits of technology.
- Act 1: you’re exploring the boundless potential of groundbreaking, new technologies.
- Act 2: you focus on the benefits of such technology.
- Act 3: you lean on the costs of such a gift.
- Act 4: you focus on the moral ramifications of the use of this new tech.
Another way to look at it:
Another way to look at it:
Following the four acts gives you a good structure through which to explore the different sides and different expressions of the main intellectual theme.
Your intellect line is here to make sure you infuse your story with some brains. Really bake in some concerns of the human mind. But most importantly, it’s an opportunity to teach your audience something. Get them thinking, engaged, expanding their minds – so that they leave your story better off than when it started.