In this interesting TED Talk, filmmaker Andrew Stanton (TOY STORY, WALL-E) talks storytelling.
Story telling has a lot in common with joke telling, he says. Namely, everything in the story must lead up to the punchline. Writers should begin their novel with a singular goal, and build every sentence, paragraph and chapter piece by piece toward that goal. While, he notes, ideally noting a truth that deepens the reader’s understanding of humanity.
His pointers include:
1. Make the reader (or viewer) care
2. The reader is a participant in the storytelling, they just don’t want to feel like they are (don’t give the reader 4, give them 2+2)
3. Good characters have a “spine,” a dominant unconscious goal they’re striving for
4. Change is fundamental to story
5. The character doesn’t like to be perfectly likeable but should have at least one thing that is likeable about them
6. A strong theme always runs through a well-told story
7. Invoke wonder wherever possible
Good stuff. This and other wisdom can be found here: