How do I use Storybuilder for fiction or narrative work?
Question: How can I use Storybuilder for fiction or narrative films, or for writing?
Storybuilder is less about filling in all of the details, as it is providing a framework for your story. Think of it as an outline rather than the real meat of the story, itself. It's where you can bring all of your ideas into one place, and start making decisions on why you're telling this story, developing who it's going to be about, and mapping out the most compelling plot line. Thinking about these big question before you get started in filling in the details will help prevent you from wasting time on dead or loose story ends. Or, ending up with a story that isn't as effective as it could have been.
For example, if you were writing a memoir, then there are going to be a ton of life experiences you'll have to choose to include or exclude from your piece. If you try to cover everything, then it's not going to say much at all. It would also be a waste of time to write about certain life experiences, only to realize later on that they don't quite create the emotional arc that you need to move the audience and convey the lessons that you've learned along the way. In your Plot Points under the Story Elements tab of Storybuilder, it's a great place to start a brain dump of all of the potential moments in your life you might highlight, Storybuilder's build tab is a great place to map them out and experiment with how different moments connect and build on one another emotionally, and the purpose tab is a great reference to have when choosing between different conflicts in your life to focus on.
So I would say that Storybuilder is applicable regardless of medium. And while it's not geared toward the narrative genre, these universal story elements are just as important to consider regardless of genre as well:
- In your Story Keywords tab, if you don't know what you're trying to say with your story, then how can you expect your audience to know either, let alone be impacted by it? Choosing your 5 Keywords is essential to think about what value you want to give to your audience, what greater takeaways you will offer them. And it will give clarity on themes to focus on throughout your piece.
- When adding characters to your Story Elements tab, you can start to create a community of potential characters, and start getting to know and understand them before writing about them. What drives them? What quirks does each person have? What are they motivated by? The Big 3 Things will help you to understand your characters and develop them on a deeper level. This will inform your dialogue, and the different layers of place you might find them in—what situations they may take part in, what environments may be important to them, what objects they surround themselves with, and what they spend their time on.
- When adding Plot Points to your Story Elements tab, it's all about the moments that take place in this story. I'd encourage you to start by doing a brain dump of ALL of the potential moments you can think of. You'll especially want to spend time thinking about what central conflict you want to structure your story. You can still add images to help think about the setting of where these moments take place, and you can take notes of those locations and objects that have greater symbolism to your character or demonstrate something important in that moment.
- And in the Build tab, you can start pulling all of this together to create your final framework or outline for your story. You can create multiple drafts if you want to compare different plot lines. This way, you can make a decision before you start writing.
Storybuilder won't write your story for you—and there's certainly still a whole lot of work to do after you use it. But we've found that challenging yourself to bring clarity to the question of your story's keywords, characters, and plot points, provides the structure and direction we need to get going. We believe creativity comes out of constraint, and Storybuilder helps you to define those constraints for yourself.