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Superboss Study Sesh - Topic 1: Story!

Postby Tonjevic » Mon Oct 28, 2013 11:02 am

Hey duders, Rob and me made a list of topics that would be cool to study.

So here's the deal: we pick a topic, we research it for like a week, then we talk about it. This way we all get to be Interesting People with Knowledge and Worldly Urbanity.

Topic Numbah 1 is the book Story by Robert McKee. Here is an audiobook version of it:
There is more stuff in the actual book but reading is hard and books are long, so whatever.

Have fun.

P.S. Feel free to suggest new topics and stuff, this is just a starting point.

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Re: Superboss Study Sesh

Postby RobStorm » Mon Oct 28, 2013 11:14 am

Let's use this thread just for discussion on topic 1 then.

I have finished the audio book and really enjoyed it. It points out some really obvious pitfalls that many crappy movies/stories fall in to. We should generate a kind of outline here too. That would be a useful reference.

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Re: Superboss Study Sesh - Topic 1: Story!

Postby RobStorm » Mon Oct 28, 2013 1:29 pm

Tonjevic and I started discussing on the IRC some of the main points McKee tries to promote towards the beginning of the book. One of them is importance of a well crafted overall story arch vs just having well written dialogue.

McKee appears to argue that the understanding of the arch and events takes precedence over the writing itself. I would tend to agree with this is most situations. I think comedy might be a place where I would not as much as the individual jokes and lines can be what makes it great (although there are great comedies where it is the overall story is what is so hilarious like an Idiocracy or Dr. Strangelove). This is also a judgement that while useful in any type of story I believe he places more on film style stories. When reading poetry or a book, the writing could be true art of the piece, not the plot, much easier. He does go over all the strengths and weaknesses of the different types of story mediums towards the end of the book though, which definitely addresses a lot of this.

Edit: also I would argue that the overall arch taking precedence is something I've experienced in a lot of videogames which I felt had wonderful stories. This often happens with a JRPG game that was translated. Even though the writing may not translate perfectly or be extremely complex, the overall story may be very well constructed and have an emotional depth that comes from the subtext, events, and conflicts. Ex: FF7-9, Xenogears, MGS, Shadow of Destiny

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Re: Superboss Study Sesh - Topic 1: Story!

Postby Raygen » Tue Oct 29, 2013 10:41 am

Atm i am at 1:36:00 into the audio book.
And right of the bat i need to say for some one that dosent like to read books and sit still for to long.
I find this book verry interesting and helpfull,
this book has given me some insight in the complex subject of writing.

I will take over some of the usefull things i have learned so far and of my interpretation of his words.
"Exuse me in advance if my word play in this makes no sence."

Cheacking chapters/scene's
One of the first things that catched my atention was his way to see
if a chapter or scene was unnecessary to the story.
How he did this was he took notes of the situation/character at the beginning of the chapter/scene,
then he would look at the end of the chapter/scene and ask himself this question.
"What has changed over this chapter/scene?...Did my character gain or lost something?
Did this chapter/scene have any value/plot/information to add to the story"
Looking at the befor and after, start and ending of this chapter/scene he could awnser this question,
scrapping the chapters/scene's that could potentialy bore the reader becous nothing realy happend.
Verry simple but! for me, it was something like "man i never tought of doing that."
And im sure if i ever write a story that this will make sure i wont add unnecessay filler.

Structure and lore of a story
Ive tryed myself to make a story when i was abit younger, just opend Word and started typing like an idiot.
But to my suprise and even my hardest efford i couldent make up interesting events...
Maby one or two but its not a big story if it just contains two events eh.
Yet again this audio book tought me some tips of making a well written story and character's.
One importand thing i forgot when i was writing was to work out the world, the limits and possability's,
the habitands and the political vieuws of this world.
i forgot the fudemental the structure of a story, the lore of the story.
You need these to make the world your creating it more believable and make your events have a bigger impact
on the world, not just the event. this will also help you think of more events becous you can imagen the impact of your events. "for instance one of your actions might start a war with a neighboring country."
something you could have overlooked or even not think off becous you dident work out the world and surounding area's.
another abvious thing if you think about it...but some one thats not a profecional writer,
like me, can easly over look this.

character desighn
The last part im going to ramble about was this question that struck me and it got me good...
"What is more importand? structure or character? the plot or the protagonist?"
Ofcours i whent like "ooh oooh! the character ofcours!" Wrong...
These two are evenly importand one can not work without the other a well written plot needs a well written character.
We talked about how to make a "better" structure in the texed above.
But what is a good character? How dose one achieve an interesting and not a bland person?

The awnser whas you got two parts of a character.
You have the outer character "his character traits: looks, sex, tastes, likes and dislikes, personality, accent, ect...
And the iner character this core of your character is ideals and dessires, his ways of thinking under pressure,
will he be couragious or a cowerd, gentle or rude, loyal or a traitarus ect...
The indepth of this mather blew me away it was still so abvious when he said it but i alwase looked at a character as just one thing but like a coin has two sides, so dose a character.
And its true becous noone is who they look or pretend to be.
A perfect example here is the Hulk a friendly and wise person
but when putten under pressure this coin will flip, litteraly.
and turn into the unstopable rage of destruction...the hulk. inner and outer character.

The subject the audio book used made me laugh.
The first Rambo film had a good character desighn for Rambo.
"Rambo whas this vietnam vetteran that was experiancing a burnout...A lost man, self pittying and broken.
When agitted by the main villain. Rambo jumped up and here came out the Rambo we all know and loved.
But after that movie...Rambo never returned to his originaly state, he stayed the ragin Rambo
with the bands of ammo around his torso and the red bandana on his head.
From that one forward Rambo was no longer an idepth character,
he was merly a shallow protagonist that just holded the trigger until his mag was empty.

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Re: Superboss Study Sesh - Topic 1: Story!

Postby Jackal » Tue Oct 29, 2013 12:39 pm

18 minutes in.

Robert paints a masterful picture of how exactly one "forges" a proper story.
He opens the readers eyes as to what bastardization and perversion this sacred
source of media has undergone as of recently. The way that he paints the
picture of our modern weekend writers is all too true. We must not forget
how a true masterpiece is composed. Just as a traditional katana is folded over
and over until the very molecules are hardened, the final work from a true
master at the art of story must time and time again harden the very tale he
seeks to give the world.

What I will take away and I hope all of you do for the sake of the development
process: We must not forget that Rome was not built in a day and this game
shall not be either. It must be hardened for it to not be the simple chick flick
or action movie of it's own merit.

23 minutes in.

Something to think about: (paraphrasing) "When a character is unchanged from start to finish of a scene, it is a non-event."

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