Aloha & welcome to The Process Blitz where I'll be tackling a short story from concept to content in 30 days. I'll be sharing my own goals, process, resources, and insights for preparing material that is "pitch ready" for a animated short film/picture book.
Establishing appropriate material for short story formats where brevity and clarity are vital is real work. Each word & second is valuable; every moment should further the theme and progress the narrative. The primary rule is K.I.S.S. or Keep it simple stupid! Some ideas are not suited to become short stories; Lord of the Rings for example, with its weaving multi-character plots and world spanning travels could never be crammed into a 32pg picture book or a 5 minute movie.
A good short story must have 1 or 2 central characters that the audience relates to, a problem, and a solution that tells us more about the central character(s). The problem and it's solution help make up the story's theme or central message. All other characters, settings, and events should support the theme and enhance the telling of the story.
Eliminating other issues helps clarify the theme and focus a viewer's attention to the important. This means that many great ideas will end-up on the chopping block; it's OK. Those unused ideas may be seeds for other wonderful projects.
The following goals will help refine the direction of a story and create a solid framework for the rest of the development.
Timeline (3 days)
1-Establish the theme in 3 words (adjectives, emotions)
2-Synopsis of plot in 1 sentence, 3 sentences, 3 paragraphs (subject, problem, soution. Consider visually based actions that support theme)
3-Establish principle characters (If more than 5, consider simplifying)
4-Develop character map (motives & relationships, obstacles & solutions)
Resources for writing short films or picture books (please send me your favorites as well):
(Index card method) (Writing a scene) (How I Write Series: Jessica Bendinger)
(Picture Book Writing Tips)
(Writing for Children's Books) (plotting for children's books)
Writing for Cartoons Series (Dialogue 1& 2)
The Purple Crayon (picture book writing resources)