Storytelling Strategies by Paul Gulino

Storytelling Strategies takes a look at contemporary popular films and studies them for the strategies they use to tell their stories. Subjects covered have included or will include adaptation, hooking the reader, romantic comedy, horror, sci-fi, drama, fantasy, rewriting, screenwriting, character development, dialogue, plot development, theme, structure, writing inspiration, how to deal with writers block, discussions of screenwriting books, theme, premise, plot, outlining, dramatic scenes, rewriting. The column looks not only at successful films but those that are less successful and discusses strategies for improvement, tying these in turn to screenwriting craft as it applies to those seeking to master it.

Storytelling Strategies: ‘Frozen’ Expectations

What do your characters think is going to happen? The most fundamental goal of a storyteller is to create a sense of anticipation in the audience. A related — and vital — task is to create anticipation in the characters. As John Lennon said, “Life is just what happens to you...

Storytelling Strategies: The Lowdown on ‘Gravity’

How does a screenwriter thrill a reader if she doesn’t have special effects at her disposal? In 1840, New York theater audiences were treated to a play called The Earthquake. It featured rattling furniture, falling walls and collapsing flats. It was followed by The Last Days of Pompeii, which added an...

Storytelling Strategies: Ending ‘The World’s End’

By Paul Gulino Making an ending feel satisfying. The script for The World’s End (written by Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright) is superlative in dialogue and originality, among other strengths, but it stumbles late, and even wanders a bit during the climactic confrontation between the two main characters and the aliens...

Storytelling Strategies: Fruitvale Station vs. Blake Snyder

“You can’t teach writing!” declares Gabe Roth, a character played by Woody Allen in Allen’s 1992 film Husbands and Wives.   We’ve come a long way since 1992; that very same year, Christopher Vogler came out with The Writer’s Journey, which provided twelve stages that a character should endure during the...

Storytelling Strategies: The Puzzle in Silver Linings Playbook

How David O. Russell reels in the audience. For almost everyone, the experience of following a recipe is markedly different from following a story. A well-told story is an enthralling experience, consumed from beginning to end without interruption, and fully comprehensible after one hearing/viewing. Following a recipe, on the other hand,...

Storytelling Strategies: ‘Argo’ and Recapitulation

Click to tweet this article to your friends and followers! How can you turn an audience from observers into participants? According to the Academy’s voters, Argo (directed by Ben Affleck and written by Chris Terrio) was not only the best written film of 2012 but also the best film altogether. It was...