10 Understanding Story Structure

Each scene (in literature, theatre, fiction film, or documentary) should contribute a charge of dramatic impetus to the story’s momentum. This might be setup information, a gripping mood, complications for the central character to combat, a decisive confrontation between opponents, or the scene’s resolution. No scene deserves to exist unless it propels the story forward with something new.

Pedestrian storytelling bores its audience—perhaps with a surfeit of scene-setting information before any action begins. But today’s audiences expect a story with movement, so consider dropping us into the middle of the action and releasing items of expository information as they become necessary. A long and rather operatic ...

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