Narrative structure ain’t so basic

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My wife’s cousin owns an animation studio. He’s a top bloke. Those are really the only two things you need to know about him for the moment, because for now he’s going to serve as my everyman in this situation.

Anyhoo, his studio. Does a lot of good work, making short animated info films for local government, businesses and the like, and a while ago he gave me a call.

“Michael” (says he) “You’re a writer and stuff.”

“I am” (says I).

“I have this idea for an animated short.” (says he) “I’d like you take a look at the script.”

This is a roundabout way to say I reviewed a script written by someone who by his own admission didn’t know how to tell a story. As i went in and began correcting things and making suggestions, it occurred to me that we writers who have yet to Make it Big(tm) are a little too hard on ourselves. We look at what we do and think “Well, that’s too obvious” and agonise for too long on how to make it less so because we think we’re telegraphing our ineptitude, when what we’re doing is laying down skills that are second nature to us as storytellers. They’re only basic to us.

Is this extra work we force on ourselves worth it? Maybe. Depends on the story. But my point is we’re in the habit of paralysing ourselves unnecessarily.

Stop it (I’m talking to you), and just write. You got this.

Michael

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