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Secrets from Hollywood: Story Structure Made Simple

Think of a time when something difficult happened in your life, or you had a problem

but you found a way to sort it out. Can you think of a story or part of a movie where problems just keep getting worse for the character?

Let’s watch a story about a character whose problems keep getting worse.

Watch and Learn: Short Film Presto

Your turn

Where do the character’s problems start?

Why do they get worse?

How do the character’s ongoing problems help the audience to enjoy the story?

Would the story have been better if the character had only one small problem, or many problems?

Formula for success

This movie short follows a formula used by hundreds of successful writers, both in novels and for the big screen. Billy Wilder was the writer responsible for Hollywood blockbusters like Some Like It Hot, Witness for the Prosecution and Double Indemnity. His secret recipe for an effective three-act plot is this:

Act 1: Get your character up a tree

Act 2: Throw rocks at him / her / it

Act 3: Get him / her / it down again

Watch and learn

“The thing about Pixar, they don't do the 'trend is your friend.' They're really about timeless story telling, and that's pretty great.” —Bonnie Hunt, Actress and Director

Pixar had enormous success with movies like Toy Story and Finding Nemo, but before that, Pixar gained respect for making short animated stories with memorable plots and characters. Watch this trailer for the blockbuster Despicable Me 2, and let’s see how the 3 Act Structure works.

Watch and Learn Trailer, Despicable Me 2

How 3 Act Story Structure works

Act 1: Get your character up a tree

Gru and the girls are safe, Gru accepts a difficult mission, he partners with Lucy. Act 2: Throw rocks at him / her / it

Gru is attacked multiple times by world’s greatest villain, Lucy is captured, minions become evil. Act 3: Get him / her / it down again Gru and Lucy marry, the villain is gone, minions are normal, everyone is happy. Story Structure Activity for You

Here’s a six word story written by the famous writer and humourist, Robert Benchley -

Streets full of water. Please advise.

Using the 3 Act Structure, in a few sentences, create and plan your extended version of this story.

How do you know when your writing is worth your time and effort? Do you ever struggle with confidence when it comes to your writing, or do you ever find yourself stuck?

Do you worry that you have what it takes to get published, or to continue writing stories that sell?

Here's the TRUTH:

You don’t know how to unlock the secrets of the writing craft simply because you haven't found your voice yet, or you need to learn how to produce sellable ideas.

My name is Claire Vorster. I help motivated writers create dynamic, sellable stories by developing techniques used by successful authors.

This is my personal invite for you to unlock the power of the Success Stories Academy, 3-2-1 Stories program.

Because you answered "YES" to any of the questions above, I know something really great about you… You are a motivated writer who has a big heart for successful storytelling.

The 3-2-1 Stories program will empower you to create stories that you are confident in writing and that readers will love. What’s more you can choose the way that works for you:

4 Week Immersive Masterclass. UNIT 1: Dynamic Story Telling

Join this self-paced, online course. Each week you get a coaching video + an interactive activity book that helps you develop effective techniques in manageable steps. You'll discover how successful stories are structured, how to ensure that readers or movie goers respond to your characters and dialogue, and put into practice the tools of writers who consistently write best sellers and movies that make money.

10 sessions. 2 hour/week commitment. Starting February 2021, new member price $57 (USD)

Weekly one hour coaching session with Claire.

Once a week, for 5 weeks. Price per session $100 (USD).

Ready to unlock the secrets of stories that sell?


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