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  • Storytelling & dramatic structure

  • Daniel Neutzsky-Wulff

    November 17, 2012 at 12:34 am

    Hi,

    I didn’t quite know where to post this and I’ve had a hard time finding some useful information online.

    I’ve been editing for a little over two years now profesionally. I’ve mostly done company profiles, commercials, short films, trailers and musicvideos.

    The time has come for me to edit a documentary for TV and I want to sharpen my storytelling skills, learn about dramatic structure and so forth. Basically everything that can help me make a story come to life and become engaging for the viewer.

    Can you recommend some books or an online training course to help me accomplish this? I am aware that this usually takes years of experience and hard work, but instead of just learning by doing, as I have been doing so far, I want to learn specific techniques, like the story arc, the actant model and so forth.

    I have been exploring these areas of storytelling and have become very facinated by how applicable these tools are for specific projects.

    I have been reading “In the Blink of an Eye” by Walter Murch which was also quite facinating, but I need something more concrete on structuring a story and how to increase dramatic effect.

    Let me give you an example. A documentary about a person in prison, a hardened criminal. How would you introduce this character in order to awaken the viewers attention instantly?

    Show that person in a dramatic situation in a confrontation with a fellow inmate or a prison guard, which results in one of them getting stabbed.

    Afterwards, go back to the beginning. Tell the inmates story from the beginning; who are they and where do they come from. How did they wind up in this situation?

    Basically, how to tell a story in the sharpest, most interesting way possible. What tools to use and how to achieve this? I’m done rambling now and I appreciate if you’ve actually gotten this far and I would appreciate any guidance in this matter.

    Best regards,
    Daniel

  • Rok Picasso

    November 17, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    Hi Daniel,

    I don’t have something in mind, yet, for storytelling specifically in the context of video editing (or for a video editor); however, one of the best books I know about the “art of storytelling” generally is The Anatomy of Story by John Truby. To its advantage for your needs, its main target audience is not novel writers, but screen writers. So there is a good chance that you can find some gems in it, which you can project onto video editing with some creative and smart connection-building and idea-matching.

    I’m also curious about storytelling books in the context of video editing, so hope so see some more specialized and experienced editors contributing to the thread.

  • Rok Picasso

    November 17, 2012 at 7:40 pm

    You may also find Conversations avec Walter Murch, by Michael Ondaatje, a worthy read.

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