Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Storytelling: mindmap, change of method

Sorry about the delay.

I dumped the idea of writing a review of every episode on Babylon 5. The idea was to learn about storytelling by means of analysis. However, it's just too time consuming doing it that way, and I think I'll learn more from just watching the episodes and trying (in my mind) to analyse as I watch them (and pause when necessary). I need quantity to build up a large internal base of knowledge from which to draw later inductions.

I'm working on a mindmap to aid my analysis. It's a map containing info like the concepts I gave in the "concepts, method" post below. It's designed to be practical, so I ruthlessly cut out every part in it that isn't useful (which I usually find out after having watched some episodes trying to use it...)

My latest addition is a node called "scene" with some sub-nods about things related to scenes, for example what the character is trying to achieve in it. I already was on the lookout for the general purpose of the character, but there is usually some more specific purpose within the individual scene. For example, the main purpose of a character might be to climb a mountain, whereas the purpose in specific scene at the bank might be to get the banker to grant a loan so he can afford the climb.

And as soon as you have the purpose identified, it becomes easy to identify many related things, like obstacles and conflicts.

Of course, everyone notices these things anyway (or they wouldn't understand the story), however there is a world a difference between explicitly identifying these things and just getting them as an ordinary consumer. Not in terms of understanding the story or getting more out of the experience, but certainly in terms of understanding the art of storytelling.

And the more you train yourself to notify these things automatically, there deeper it's possible to go. I often get frustrated when engaging in this activity, because I sense that there is so much more to notice in the story, except that I don't notice it. It's there, I react to it as a consumer, but I can't identify it explicitly. Like being outside a mine of gold lacking the tools to access it. Very annoying. But I'll get there eventually.

Meanwhile I'll keep working on that mindmap

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