Intellect: The Brain of Your Story

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:

  • Potential.
  • Benefits.
  • Costs.
  • Ramifications.

Another way to look at it:

  • Establish.
  • Positive.
  • Negative.
  • Resolution.

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.