Thursday, November 8, 2012

Story Diamond 4-ft x 8-ft

Making the story diamond work in a practical sense as always been a problem, when you extrapolate or beat out the story and identify all the various scenes that have to be strung together. There just isn't enough room on the computer screen (so you can see everything at once), or on a 6-ft double door wall. Besides, with the doorway, it's hard to read the little cards on the inside with a 100w incandescent bulb, when everything outside is lite by the sun.

So, for a current project I purchased a 4-ft x 8-ft sheet of Masonite, mounted it on 1" PVC pipe, and put fixed position casters on the bottom so it would slide back and forth in front of a bookcase behind my desk, but not fore and aft. (so I can get to the books).

Here's a picture of the entire story beat out with all the major scenes summarized on small pieces of paper or cards. (Don't bother trying to read it. It's for a private client and the resolution is such that nothing is readable.)

I'm now in the process of taking each scene summary and writing out the treatment. The outline of the diamond is string stretched across the front and taped to the PVC pipe behind. The "cards" outside the string are the character goal cards and inner psychological beats, and the cards inside the outline are the actual scene/sequence descriptions. At the top of each scene card is a traditional slug line in reverse type. I realize now that I have this backwards. The inner beats (psychological goals) should be on the INSIDE of the diamond, and the external-physical beats (physical action) should be on the OUTSIDE of the diamond.

In the picture, Act 3 appears to be better developed, and it is when I took this picture. I started with the end in mind, and then worked the foreshadowing structure and beats back into Acts 1 and 2. (Begin with the end in mind.) As I write out the treatment it's clear that things have to changed, so I just move the pieces of paper around.

These scene summaries are written in a table on Word, printed on regular 20# paper or 3x5 card stock, cut down to size, and then I smear the back with Elmer's Repositionable Picture and Poster Stick. If you let the glue dry for a minute before putting the paper or card stock on the Masonite, the scenes are indefinitely repositionable.

I had to take this picture outside my office door wall because I could not get back far enough in my office to photograph the whole thing at once. Now, where to store this baby????

A full explanation of the Story Diamond is presented in my On-Line Storycraft Training series.


William said...

I'd like to see some samples of what to put on all those cards?

Stan Williams said...

William: The card content is simply a short hand explanation of what happens in a sequence or a scene, depending on the depth of detail the Story Diamond represents. Examples can be found in The Moral Premise book in Tables 12-14. The content there represent a combination of scenes and sequences.

The story diamond above is most of the way to a scene-by-scene level. What I usually do for a card is start off with a slug line -- but only because I'm very spacial-geographical kind of thinker, and then give a summary of the scene that will remind me what happens. It might be long or short. Generally I keep the summary very short, and expand on ideas in a separate text file. The text file will eventually expand into a treatment. So, a card near the Act 1 Climax/Crossing the Threshold into Act 2 might say:

Barb calls Steven and accepts his proposal to search for the lost letter in Argentina.

A card in the middle of Act 2B might be as "apparently" benign as;

Steven shuffles through the sand to the water's edge and stares at the sun rising in the East. He punches at his iPhone.

followed a card that says:


Barb sips coffee, and stares glare of the early morning sun on the water. Her phone rings. It's Stephen. She tells him about the ransom demand.