A dramatic story is an environment in which characters meet. By ‘characters’, I mean not only the characters in the script, but also those characters that are identifiable as ‘the audience’, ‘the writer’ and the writer’s ‘tribe’ or ‘tribes’. Story is the common ground - the common space and common time - that allows them to co-exist and become emotionally present to one another. However, for a story world to create the sort of attraction that draws ALL the characters in to what is happening emotionally within that time and space, I - as the writer/character - must acknowledge that the thoughts and passions of the other characters are not automatically provided and present like my own thoughts and passions are present to me, and that their freedom to choose and act must not be clouded or manipulated by my own needs and prejudices. They must have the integrity of a personal externality, or Otherness, that is distinguishable from my own private agendas. Story provides that neutral something that has no horse in the race, but which is the race itself - a place where ALL the characters are free to manipulate and sign pursuant to their own goals. It is an environment that allows them the freedom to choose, including the freedom to choose not to be free, without which freedom would be meaningless. A story is a place that enables a character - every character - to have both an “outside” and an “inside,” where words and actions may be a show of generosity for one character, and the darkest acts of treachery for another.
When I asked her why she spent so much time going on internet dating sites, she said, rather matter-of-factually, that she was looking for love, as if love was something she could find, like a misplaced hairbrush or a fifty-cent piece that had rolled under the bed. Naturally enough, I wished her well, but I doubt that love is something you actually go out and find. In my experience, it’s something that has always found me.

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To be human is to be a story-telling animal. It is in our DNA to make up stories about what we want, and why we want it, or need it and can’t live without it, and what or who is frustrating our best efforts to have it and why. And this becomes our story, our script, complete with a supporting cast of characters that make their entrances and exits. Through stories we strive, vicariously, to possess, use, fix and control all that we desire, anxious about the risks but unable to stop the wanting. Wanting to live and live more fully without ever suspecting that it is the wanting that kills us. We enact our story in response to a primordial incompleteness, searching for something to fill the emptiness, when all along we ARE the emptiness, longing to be destroyed by whatever it is that can fill it.

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THE DRAMA IS IN THE RELATIONSHIPS … AND THE FRUSTRATED DESIRES. Join the official Where’s the Drama? website at http://www.wheresthedrama.com/apps/members/

THE DRAMA IS IN THE RELATIONSHIPS … AND THE FRUSTRATED DESIRES. Join the official Where’s the Drama? website at http://www.wheresthedrama.com/apps/members/

Life is a story we pay for with our lives - a quest, an odyssey of discovery, a journey back as much as a faring forth, searching ‘mongst the oddments of deceit for what has been lost, for what we once were, before we were born. It may not be a given, but I suspect, eventually, all of us will find it.
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The best film schools straddle the divide between imparting technical information and practical knowledge, and allowing the students the freedom to explore story and character according to their own imaginative faculties. Their fundamental orientation, however, is towards the production of specialists and the provision of ambitions, goals, and identities. The assumption of a “correct” identity — director, producer, editor, etc — is a prerequisite for entering “the market”, and the less wary are seduced and fattened up for the marketplace unaware of what they might be sacrificing in the act of defining themselves. “Who” you are becomes more important than “What” you are, and the sharp distinctions that are drawn, that compartmentalize the storytelling process so grievously, become like straightjackets that make escape and creative innovation progressively more difficult.

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Issue-based stories referencing situations that are charged with emotions not present in the stories themselves are capable of seducing careless storytellers (and audiences) into believing the stories are more dramatic or meaningful than they are. The seductiveness of “the real” frequently militates against a storyteller’s critical instincts, especially when he or she has an emotional investment in, or attachment to, the subject of the story being told. When the subjective emphasis of content and personal association de-tunes the storyteller’s sensitivity to the story’s grammar, the storyteller is at risk of reading energy into actions where in fact there is no energy at all. This is the essence of propaganda.

- Billy Marshall Stoneking

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Plots flow out of personalities. One-dimensional characters beget one-dimensional plots. The more interesting, the more complex, the character, the more interesting and compelling your plot choices become.

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