A guest post by Brian McDonald. Brian is an award-winning writer and director. He is also a sought after instructor and consultant who has taught story structure seminars at Pixar, Disney Feature Animation and Lucasfilm’s ILM. Here he shares his advice on the natural way to tell stories.
Ever since Quentin Tarantino’s film Pulp Fiction was released, people have talked in awe about how that film and others have played with traditional notions of story structure. That film tells its story out of sequence and is therefore innovative, or so the reasoning goes. This is a mistake. Telling stories out of sequence is actually as traditional as it gets.
The idea that story structure is ruled by linear chronology is a common error. As I have often written, and told students, one must look at how stories are told in real life. One must study stories not in their written form, or some other medium like TV or films, but in their natural habitat.