March 30, 2008

Exploring the Storytelling Paradigm

I’ve been promoting Syd Field’s storytelling paradigm, and yet I haven’t explained any of the details behind the technique. Let’s examine the components, and please share your thoughts.

The Structure

I wrote previously that Mr. Field’s plot structure revolves around four distinct segments of a story. Take a story, divide it into four evenly spaced sections, and you’ve got the basic structure of the paradigm. For a simplified example, let’s say the story is one hundred pages long. Here’s what the paradigm would look like:
  • Act 1: pg. 1 – 24 (culminating with Plot Point #1)
  • Act 2a: pg. 25 – 49 (culminating with the Midpoint)
  • Act 2b: pg. 50 – 74 (culminating with Plot Point #2)
  • Act 3: pg. 75 – 100
Outline…Paradigm…What’s the difference?

Each of these segments (along with its corresponding plot points) has a specific purpose. This is critical because it sets the stage for the story and supplies the writer with intentional guidelines in order to move the story along at the right pace.

An outline allows you to be more creative, but it lacks direction. Syd Field has examined exceptional storytelling in an effort to give writers tools that build interesting stories that engage readers.

Next post, I’ll get into more specifics surrounding each act. Do you have any initial responses to the technique? Have you used it? What do you use? I’d love to hear from all the writers out there.

Referenced in this post: The Screenwriter’s Workbook by Syd Field.

No comments: