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Make Your Story Really Stinkin Big: How To Go From Concept To Franchise And Make Your Story Last For Generations Paperback – October 1, 2013
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It is often, though, good to look at the BIGGER PICTURE (and, yes, that should be in all caps). We often get so caught up in our own macro story (what are we having for dinner, got to return that dvd to Redbox, does the car have enough gas, where did the remote go?) that we don't see those stories that transpired on our way to get where we are today.
In Mr. Howard's book, he wants you, implores you, demands that you - look at the BIG PICTURE. You have a simple story about a boy and girl falling in love? Great. What came before it? What came after it? What about their parents? Or their parent's parents? Where do they live? What is going on in the next town, county, prefecture, state, country? And then - can any of THOSE stories be told in book, comic book/graphic novel, song, video game form - not just as a screenplay? Can it translate to an on-line series that plants seeds to all the other multiple stories? Boy and girl falling in love, doesn't realize that his great grandfather killed her great grandfather in a Nazi concentration camp. How does that change the current story? Or is it even touched on...at this point?
This way of thinking and idea expanding is referred to as 360 degree Storyweaving. It's not about creating just a simple story but, in fact, creating a complex world upon which your simple story resides. It's one thing to write a screenplay, it's another to create an empire. Think you're up for it?
Mr. Howard's book explores all these concepts - helping the writer push through the fear of even trying this to using exercises to make the writer feel more comfortable and more at home in the world(s) they are creating.
He touches on basic screenwriting structure here and there and if you're looking for a book on how to write a screenplay, this isn't really it (and there are plenty of other great books out there that he references). This is about going far beyond that into the world of Harry Potter or Star Wars or Lord of the Rings or any book series that just doesn't sit in a three-act structure.
A couple Christmases ago we came across the show Prep & Landing about Santa's Elves who make sure that the houses are ready for when the big guy arrives. Pixar influenced, the show was very clever and highly enjoyable. The following year they came out with Prep & Landing II and it became very obvious that the writers behind the shows didn't just say: "Let's have a show about elves." But said: "Let's create a WORLD about elves." There were things that were shown in first show that got paid off in the sequel. It made the world more...real.
Or look at the difference between video games Skyrim and Last of Us. Both are highly rated games but Last of Us is what's known as a "rail-shooter" whereas Skyrim is known as an "open world" game. In a "rail-shooter" the player is basically on a rail going through the game. Can't get past a level? Try again. Can't get past it again? Try again. In an "open world" game the player can do whatever the player wants. Explore. Play the main storyline or...not. It doesn't matter. Last of Us is like a really good action adventure zombie movie. Skyrim is like traveling to a completely different world. When the Skyrim official game guide is 656 pages (and comes with a huge map) you know you're dealing with a completely different beast (Last of Us official game guide is 300 pages).
Mr. Howard's book challenges you to not just be satisfied with the simple story you want to tell but to look beyond the story and create a whole new world.
360 degree Storyweaving is a fascinating and interesting concept but not one for the faint-of-heart. I would not necessarily recommend this book for a first time screenwriter as one should get the basic concepts of screenwriting down. But if one feels that their story can work better in a world of storyweaving then, by all means, dive right in. But don't forget the basic and simple rule of writing and that is: writing. Much like how people can get caught up in doing research and never actually write - I can imagine people getting caught up in the threads of their created universe and forget to write the story they originally wanted to write in the first place. That story that they were so passionate about. Or, possibly, finding a more fascinating story in their universe and start writing that and then finding an even more fascinating story and start writing that and then...you get the picture.
People may say that size doesn't matter, but when it comes to your screenplay - big is often times much better. Houston Howard provides you with the needed tools to truly make your story really stinkin' big!