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Skip to 0 minutes and 8 secondsFollowing our previous discussion on character, we now touch on plot. The background and character are on the drawing board first, followed by the kind of goal this character will attain and how this will be done. This is what we refer to as plot. Plot-planning starts off with figuring out the events that will arise on a journey to attain a certain goal. Our goal is how our hero achieves his goals. The audience has to agree with what the character is doing, and to join the quest with the character through the course of the movie.

Skip to 0 minutes and 55 secondsSince we have already built in the mechanism for audience members to be in agreement with the character’s goal, audience members are already inclined to want the hero to achieve his or her goal. The key to a good goal-seeking story is the twist and turns that add interesting elements to the plot as the hero tries to achieve what he wants. Simply put, there need to be several obstacles that the protagonist will successfully overcome. These events provide the audience with opportunities to feel joy for our hero. As I brought up last time, there are several types of plots, either 22 kinds or 36 forms, depending on which scholar you are referring to. Regardless, all stories have a similar structure.

Skip to 1 minute and 58 secondsRomance, hero action, adventure. Different story themes have their set structure and plot. Let’s take a closer look. If you think about it, much of a given story is rather compelling. A simple example is the usual romance story. Think of one that you might have seen or know of. It can be a classic story or a more contemporary one. Here are a few examples. Romeo and Juliet, that’s a quintessential story. Love Story or Titanic or, more recently, Avatar. The romance story is pretty similar in composition, even over several different stories, whether it is Romeo and Juliet or Titanic. Basically, we have a tale of romance between a male and female protagonist.

Skip to 3 minutes and 1 secondOur concern becomes whether they will succeed in pursuing their love for each other. I brought up character attractiveness in the previous session. Let’s start with that of Romeo and Juliet. We have successfully created two characters, both charismatic and appealing. It would be nice to see them end up with each other.

Skip to 3 minutes and 30 secondsThe same goes for Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet from Titanic: I would like for them to become a couple in the end. Audiences become invested in the falling in love of the main characters when they can view the characters as appealing, as charming. So begins the story. To create a plot, characters are given difficulties and obstacles to overcome as they move toward their goal. There needs to be considerable hardship in order for an interesting storyline to emerge. The greater the difficulties, the more joy the audience experiences when they are overcome. As a result, all stories follow this pattern. All stories must have difficult challenges that are resolvable in order for audiences to experience joy.

Skip to 4 minutes and 34 secondsNow, we add to the mix a strategy to make the love of these two characters difficult to take place. Toss in your social constraints, constraints of identity, personal difficulties, and economic hardships. Mobilizing all of these things is the key to creating the plot’s obstacles, and also what formulates the essence of a romance movie. What kind of obstacle was there in Romeo and Juliet? Family objection. Two families who are sworn enemies, so their heirs are not allowed to see each other. Consistent struggles between the families. An interesting story because of the enormity of the obstacle. Love Story. Equally complex obstacles and even the addition of a terminal illness. Titanic.

Skip to 5 minutes and 40 secondsThe daughter of a rich man traveling in first class and a mere commoner with passage in the cargo area. Definitely a relationship that cannot be tolerated by society. Both characters are condemned, and everyone around them is out to interfere with their feelings for each other. An immense challenge that must be overcome. Avatar. One an extra-terrestrial being, the other a human. Meeting in a dream Difficult challenges are built into these storylines. We might misunderstand these to be differences in background or structure, but in actual fact, for all of these romantic storylines, be it against a medieval background, a spaceship back-drop, or in a ship, follow the same plot format.

Skip to 6 minutes and 43 secondsThe background may change from the sea to space, but the two characters still need to face difficulties in being with each other. There are several situations where the overcoming of hardship provides audiences with great delight. Crossing over the insur-mountable walls of social strata. Overcoming constraints of reality, transforming into an avatar, and meeting in a dream. These events give us the intense emotions of joy and despair. This is followed by yet another set of difficulties that again sends us on a rollercoaster ride. Our plot is formed by two or three of these ups and downs. Consequently, the plot may end in tragedy. Romeo and Juliet fell in love, but died. The plot could end in joy.

Skip to 7 minutes and 49 secondsTwo people meet and end up living together, happily ever after. Either way, both plots journeyed through difficulties and triumphs in order to end up where they are. We have several molds of these plot patterns. It may be a typical plot, or a genre. There are several characteristics of genres. Thus we have adventure story plots, romance story plots, travel story plots. We can create characters to fill these established plot conventions. A story can be very effective if created according to the rules of the genre. Nonetheless, this can be limiting as the same plot runs the risk of being repeated over and over. It is a common mis-perception that audiences want to hear a new story.

Skip to 8 minutes and 51 secondsYes, they want a new story, but what this really means is that they want new, fresh packaging for the same basic plot. We all want to hear the same stories. You want to hear the same plot. But we can change the background, change the packaging, change the obstacles, have it in a spaceship, have it by the sea. We will then feel that it is a fresh, novel tale. This is what the audience wants. If we go against the rules of the genre, we will elicit negative or uninterested reactions. What we need to respect are the rules of the genre and the basic structure of plots. We turn these into a new form through new backgrounds, new characters, and new episodes.

Skip to 9 minutes and 53 secondsThis is the basic principle of storytelling.  

THE PLOT

Following our previous discussion on character, we now touch on a plot. Romance, hero action, adventure. Different story themes have their set structure and plot. Let’s take a closer look. If you think about it, much of a given story is rather compelling. A simple example is the usual romance story. Think of one that you might have seen or know of. It can be a classic story or a more contemporary one. Here are a few examples. Romeo and Juliet, that’s a quintessential story. Love Story or Titanic or, more recently, Avatar. The romance story is pretty similar in composition, even over several different stories, whether it is Romeo and Juliet or Titanic. Many people may say they like new stories, but in reality, audiences often seek out the same narratives, again and again, looking to hear the same story told in a way that makes it feel new. It is this tendency that sometimes leads audiences to find themselves disappointed by unconventional conclusions, left with a sense of betrayal after a completely unexpected ending. Put simply, stories never vary too greatly from one another in content but can be distinguished through the different methods used to tell them. In spite of this reality, the concept of the story remains important; consider how the main plot points of classics and ancient mythology still resonate today. Revenge, heroic triumph, overcoming hardship—such basic themes will always be powerful. The key to preserving the freshness of such plot devices is to innovate new ways to present them. Theatrical genres such as melodrama, the plots of which were known for taking on lighter, more uplifting topics, still adhered to standard plot conventions. Pre-established patterns can be employed in various ways. If the plot challenges these patterns, it goes against the rules of the genre, which can elicit negative reactions. Thus, storytelling is driven by the ability to stay faithful to basic plot devices while expressing them in innovative ways.

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This video is from the free online course:

Transmedia Storytelling

Sungkyunkwan University (SKKU)

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