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Shortest Lesson in Storytelling

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What could you learn about storytelling, if you would only use a two-sentence story as your only example? There are more storytelling principles at work there than meets the eye.

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Shortest Lesson in Storytelling

  1. 1. EVERYTHING YOU CAN LEARN FROM A TWO SENTENCE STORY www.semiosearch.lt
  2. 2. THE SHORTEST STORY:
  3. 3. yup, that‘s the full story
  4. 4. yup, that‘s the full story SO LET‘S THINK WHAT WE CAN LEARN FROM IT
  5. 5. THE PREMISE The first sentence sets the background to the whole story. It tells us where the action is taking place and who is at the center of this action. THE LAST MAN ON EARHT
  6. 6. the last man on Earth THE BACKSTORY what we find out by this simple phrase is that something has happened on Earth that left only one person on it.
  7. 7. the last man on Earth THE BACKSTORY what we find out by this simple phrase is that something has happened on Earth that left only one person on it. BACKWARDS MOVIN STORY this short phrase works as a reference to the events that happened before the present story time – this is a flashback or an analepse.
  8. 8. THE PRESENT MOMENT ..sat alone in the room… this is the starting point in the narrative, but the actual story starts way before that
  9. 9. THE PRESENT MOMENT ..sat alone in the room…the story starts with something happening on Earth that leaves only one man on it FLASHBACK last man on Earth
  10. 10. THE PRESENT MOMENT ..sat alone in the room… and it even entails that the man must be special or that he spared due to some special circumstances or possibly due his characteristics or features – the story cascades even beyond the point of mysterious event because of the simple question “why this man?” FURTHER FLASHBACK last man on Earth
  11. 11. THE PRESENT MOMENT ..sat alone in the room… there was a knock on the door so the story develops and we know that the longer action of sitting is interrupted by the shorter action of knocking. last man on Earth DEVELOPMENT FLASHBACK
  12. 12. a knock on the door THE ACTION METONIMICALLY POINTS TO THE SUBJECT WHO IS ABLE TO CARRY IT OUT and this simple action breaks the previous flashback reference that stated that our hero was the last man on EARTH…
  13. 13. THE PRESENT MOMENT ..sat alone in the room… there was a knock on the door the “knock on the door” disrupts the initial flashback because it is shown as incomplete and we are missing a part of the disappearance of everyone else story last man on Earth THE FILL-IN FLASH BACK FLASHBACK
  14. 14. CHARACTERS SO HOW MANY CHARACTERS ARE WE DEALING HERE EXACTLY? it seems that we have three subjects: the hero sitting in the room, someone knocking on the door and everyone else who are gone (dead or missing or departed elsewhere)
  15. 15. SO? WHAT OF IT?
  16. 16. THE PRESENT MOMENT ..sat alone in the room… if we go back to the very beginning of the story, we can se that we have access to the information that the man sat ALONE. We know that no one else is around. last man on Earth
  17. 17. THE PRESENT MOMENT ..sat alone in the room… last man on Earth there was a knock on the door and when the story progresses we are not allowed to see who is actually behind the door – we do not have access to that information. Furthermore, the story is cut off with an ellipses
  18. 18. …WHAT DOES THIS ELLIPSES MEANS? this indicates an omission – this means that we don’t get to see the resolution, we are not going to find out. SOMEBODY CUTS US OUT ON PURPOSE.
  19. 19. THE PRESENT MOMENT ..sat alone in the room… last man on Earth there was a knock on the door what we also find out is that the information we are given at the beginning of the story might be unreliable – as our hero-subject might be not the only one left
  20. 20. THE PRESENT MOMENT ..sat alone in the room… last man on Earth there was a knock on the door OR the second possibility exists that whoever knocks is not a man, but something else entirely
  21. 21. Who tells us that he is the last man? Are we mislead on purpose?
  22. 22. Who tells us that he is the last man? Are we mislead on purpose? THAT IS A POSSIBILITY, BUT WE WILL NOT KNOW FOR SURE. BUT THERE ARE OTHER INTERPRETATIONS AS WELL. LET’S SEE HOW THEY ARE TRIGERRED…
  23. 23. some of the possible interpretations of the story might be influenced by the genre references that might point to science-fiction or even Biblical genres last man on Earth there was a knock on the door...
  24. 24. some of the possible interpretations of the story might be influenced by the genre references that might point to science-fiction or even Biblical genres last man on Earth there was a knock on the door... on the other hand the abrupt action, the inability to see the other subject knocking and the cut out ending points to horror genre
  25. 25. last man on Earth there was a knock on the door... so these little details point us to other texts and genres and by doing this they actually control and guide our reading INTERTEXTUALITY
  26. 26. AMBIGUITY WE ARE FACED WITH EQUALLY PLAUSIBLE EXPLANATIONS we might read the text in different ways of follow different leads, but all of them are equally plausible thus creating the thrill and the sense of uneasiness. We narrative meaning is beyond our control here.
  27. 27. WHAT IS IT FOR? Ambiguity increases the tension and the possible odds. The more uncertain we are and the higher the stakes – the more we get invested in narratives. This narrative gives us an unsolvable riddle and doesn’t provide any clues as to which interpretation is more probable. AMBIGUITY
  28. 28. AND THAT’S NOT ALL THERE ARE SOME CONCLUSIONS LEFT TO MAKE
  29. 29. AND SOMETIMES IT BACKTRACKS, FILLS THE HOLES OR EVEN NEGATES THE INFORMATION WE WERE GIVEN EARLIER
  30. 30. JUST REMEMBER THAT I WROTE THAT THIS IS GOING TO BE SHORTEST LESSON IN STORYTELLING
  31. 31. IT‘S JUST LIKE THE CONCLUSIONS – YOU CAN GIVE THEM AT THE BEGINNNG OF YOUR PRESENTATION, BUT FOR SOME GODDAMN REASON YOU KEEP THEM TILL THE VERY END
  32. 32. NOTHING EXISTS IN VACUUM. EVERY ELEMENT YOU USE IN THE STORY INSTANTLY RELATES TO THE WEB OF MEANING – SOMETHING THAT HAS BEEN USED AND DONE BEFORE.
  33. 33. AND THAT IS FINALLY ALL
  34. 34. MORE STUFF ON UNDERSTANDING STORYTELLING http://www.semiosearch.lt ANDRIUS GRIGORJEVAS

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