Posts Tagged ‘storytelling’

Does everything have to be perfect in order for a story to work? Nope. 

Here’s the script and breakdown for Star Wars:

Star Wars: A New Hope Script — Screenplay Analysis and PDF Download

par·sec| ˈpärsek | (abbreviation pc) noun

a unit of distance used in astronomy, equal to about 3.26 light years (3.086 × 1013 kilometers). One parsec corresponds to the distance at which the mean radius of the earth’s orbit subtends an angle of one second of arc.

A parsec is a measurement of distance, not time. Twelve of those do not a winning Kessel Run make, but, as millions of fans (and yes, dollars) attest, no one cares. The story works.

These are the things I think about when I’m stuck on a plot point, or deep in historical or technical weeds.

Just keep going.

* * *

Photo by Sam Balye on Unsplash

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It occurs to me that one of the things we really need now is storytelling. With a Republican-dominated government in the U.S., dissenters won’t have as many direct political options to make change via laws. That leaves hearts and minds.

And what’s best for changing hearts and minds? A compelling story.

As I see it, an important part of our job right now as writers isn’t to bombard with facts and figures (or not only, of course there’s a place for that). Fiction writers have a special place in society. We imagine other futures, other paths, other worlds. We bring those experiences, those feelings*, to readers.

Our challenge is to inspire, to engage, to help others envision a better world. With a nod to Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, to make them long for a kinder, more hopeful, and more just sea.



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* And as Ian Warren argues, at least part of what has happened with Brexit and the U.S. election seems to be that “what data and polling often misses, is how people think and feel” and that “the communication of effective emotional messages is currently beating data alone.”

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Tom Magliozzi, Popular Co-Host Of NPR’s ‘Car Talk,’ Dies At 77

This is sad. I didn’t know him personally, of course, but living in Cambridge (not far from their garage) as long as I did, listening to NPR as much as I did, and graduating from the same school as Tom and Ray, I felt a connection. Tom was the perfect foil to Ray’s banter and vice versa, and not only knew cars but also how to entertain. And that laugh! So contagious. It made me smile through the challenges of grad school, and makes me smile still.

The NPR story linked above has a sample of the show, and of course more Car Talk audio, car-related discussions and The Quotable Tom Magliozzi are archived by the good folks over at CarTalk.com. If you have a few more minutes, MIT also has video of Tom and Ray’s 1999 commencement speech.

Never let the facts stand in the way of a good answer.

If that’s not the essence of good storytelling, well. He will be missed!

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I’m work, work, working this week, getting lots done and I hope you are too. Today I bring you Kurt Vonnegut’s ideas on the shapes of stories, posted by Aerogramme Writers’ Studio with a terrific infographic designed by Maya Eilam. If you are a visual person, like to shore up your understanding of concepts with images, or just enjoy seeing how a great storyteller conceptualizes his work, you may find this useful.

The Shapes of Stories by Kurt Vonnegut

Those who believe in telekinetics, raise my hand.
― Kurt Vonnegut

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Invention, my dear friends, is 93% perspiration, 6% electricity, 4% evaporation, and 2% butterscotch ripple.
—Willy Wonka, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory

Perhaps your weekend will be spent climbing Everest or solving cold fusion, but if you plan to spend at least some time facing down a blank page in an effort to write, the following TED talks may be of some use. This collection comes to us via Aerogramme Writers’ Studio and includes a variety of topics and speakers:

  1. Chimamanda Adichie: The Danger of a Single Story
  2. Isabel Allende: Tales of Passion
  3. Andrew Stanton: The Clues to a Great Story
  4. Lisa Bu: How Books Can Open Your Mind
  5. Amy Tan: Where Does Creativity Hide?
  6. Billy Collins: Everyday Moments, Caught in Time
  7. Elif Shafak: The Politics of Fiction
  8. Joe Sabia: The Technology of Storytelling
  9. Elizabeth Gilbert: Your Elusive Creative Genius
  10.  Tracy Chevalier: Finding the Story Inside the Painting
  11. Jarred McGinnis: Writing is the Only Magic I Still Believe In
  12. Julian Friedmann: The Mystery of Storytelling
  13. John Green: The Paper Town Academy

I featured #9 in a previous post but there are a dozen other talks too. A baker’s dozen. … Hmm, baking… Perhaps I’ll make something tasty to go along with the above educational material. Because, cookies. Butterscotch ripple cookies, even:)

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