10 questions every writer should ask their story

10 questions every writer should ask their story

john yorke, into the woods, tv producer, story for bvusiness, screenwriting, story for tv, creative skillset, university of the arts london, ma drmatic writing,c ompany pictures, BBC

STORY FOR SCREEN

Start: 14 September 2020
Duration: 16 weeks
Sessions: 7
Price: £900

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You've written your story, now how can you test whether or not it's as good as it can be? John Yorke recommends asking 10 questions to check you've got your story straight: an approach as relevant to business stories as it is to dramatic narratives.

John discussed the ten questions every writer should ask to test their story during a recent online workshop. In this clip, he applies the questions to two popular films: Aliens and Pixar’s Inside Out – though it can easily be applied to factual content, video games, and business communications. See full video below. 

Q1

Who’s story is this?

Aliens – Ripley’s

Inside Out – Joy’s

Q2

What do they need? (Flaw)

Aliens – Failure as a mother

Inside Out – To understand life can’t be constantly happy

Q3

What is the inciting incident?

Aliens – The news that colonists are being killed, and the opportunity of revenge

Inside Out – Being cast out of HQ with Sadness

Q4

What does the protagonist want?

Aliens – To kill the Aliens (to atone for dead daughter)

Inside Out – To get back to HQ

Q5

What obstacles are in the way?

Aliens – Aliens, the military, the company, her own inner fears

Inside Out – She doesn’t know the way, or understand she needs to listen to Sadness too

Q6

What’s at stake?

Aliens – Her life and civilisation

Inside Out – Her existence – Riley’s happiness

Q7

Why should we care?

Aliens – She’s selfless (and loves her cat)

Inside Out – She’s funny and smart – has the best interests of Riley at heart

Q8

What do they learn?

Aliens – The strength and resilience within – she can be a good mother

Inside Out – To embrace Sadness and accept life is infinitely better if you do

Q9

How and why do they learn this?

Aliens – She rescues Newt from the jaws of the Alien

Inside Out – Can’t bridge the chasm without the help of Sadness

Q10

How does the story end?

Aliens – She destroys the Aliens

Inside Out – Home, with Sadness at the controls

John Yorke headshot image

 

John Yorke is the UK’s foremost expert on story structure.

His long and distinguished career in TV drama has given him the tools to identify the underlying shape common to all successful narratives, and his bestselling book Into The Woods explains why stories are key to all successful communication, from ads to political speeches.

Find out more about John on his team page.

STORY FOR SCREEN

Start: 14 September 2020
Duration: 16 weeks
Sessions: 7
Price: £900

MORE INFO

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Published on February 23, 2017

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