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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Story Paradigms and Story Models

In serialized storytelling such as comic books there are story paradigms and story models. While some writers use these terms interchangeably they actually mean two different things.

A Story Paradigm is a standard model for storytelling.  

Paradigms are the structure for storytelling. They lay the foundation and framework a writer for telling the story they’re writing.

Paradigms are time-tested models writers have used for centuries to get their stories from the beginning to the end.

An example of a paradigm is a one act arc, a three-act story arc or a five-act story arc. 

For the most part Story Paradigms rarely change. Stories follow a one-act arc, a three-act arc, or a five act arc regardless whether they are short stories, novels, screenplays, teleplays, or comic books.

A Story Model is the sequence of events a writer uses to tell their stories.

Story models are the form a writer wraps around the structure of a paradigm.

Story models are that sequence of events that get a story from the beginning to the middle to its end.

Once the foundation and framework are laid, a writer can get creative and use their imagination towards creating a model for getting their story from the inciting incident to the first plot point, the second plot point, the climax and the conclusion.

In serialized storytelling every character has a unique story model that is distinct. And these story models are just like fingerprints, no two are exactly alike. It’s this model that gives a character’s stories a unique feel. In some cases if the writing is strong enough it creates the “heart” and “soul” for those stories.  

A good story model will give a reader an indicator to what they’re reading from the first page. Usually a reader can tell it’s a Batman story or a Superman story just from the mood or the tone established on the first page.

The sequence of events that establish a Superman story model will not work in a Batman story model. And the sequence of events works in an Batman story model won’t work in an Superman story model. Two different characters can exist in the same world but the approaches used to tell their stories are completely different.

But a writer can turn these story models on their ear to show how their story models are distinct. One of the best examples of story models being flipped around was Superman The Animated Series episode Knight Time. In this story Superman is forced to go into Gotham City to find out what happened to a missing Bruce Wayne. And as he searches for Bruce he has to put on Batman’s cowl to solve the mystery.

And as he puts on Batman’s cowl he soon finds that Superman’s approaches won’t work in Batman’s world. It’s only when he adapts his approaches to crime fighting that he overcomes the challenges of navigating Batman’s world and discovers the true villain of the story: Brainiac.

While story paradigms rarely change, story models do change. Sometimes a writer will change a model to keep things from being formulaic and predictable to readers and viewers. Other times a writer will use a new story model to give a reader a different perspective on a character.

And other times a writer will change a story model because it’s dated. Story models sometimes do get old and what worked in an era like the 1980s and 1990’s won’t work today. Things like grim n’ gritty storytelling or Shock and awe storytelling won’t work in a time like the 21st Century where people have completely different view of the world.

When I’m writing the Isis series sometimes I change the story models to tell a different type of story and present the character from a different perspective. Usually most Isis series adventures are kind of a comic book/fantasy/superhero story model where she takes on bad guys like Amari, Nemesis, D’Lilah, or Raheema Sanders. However, in a story like Isis: All About the Goddess I decided to put the character to a mystery story model to show how the character is a friend to people and how far she’ll go to protect others whose lives are in danger.

In the mystery story model I used in Isis: All About The Goddess a superhero character like Isis really couldn’t use her powers like flying and super strength. So the challenge was getting the character to work in this different story model and showing how she could overcome the challenge of not using her powers to find out who is stalking former child star and current Next School art model Marilyn Marie.

In another Isis series story Isis: Death of a Theta I also go off the traditional superheroine story model of good guys and bad guys. In Isis: Death of a Theta I also wanted to show how Isis was a friend to those she loved and how she had to deal with letting those friends go as she sacrificed the life of her aging alias Andrea Thomas Robinson.

 follow a more contemporary story model while using a singular first-person narrative just like I used in the novel The Thetas. I wanted the story to be similar in tone and style to The Thetas and I wanted events in that story to be consistent with events that happened in The Thetas. Again, the goal was to get readers to see the character’s heroism from a different perspective.

A change in story model can allow a writer to mix things up and keep them from being boring and predictable. In a lot of cases changes to the form can make the structure of the story stronger and give a reader an insight into a character and their mission and help the reader connect with them 

1 comment:

  1. I never got a chance to write in your blog. I love your mindset about this world so much!
    My first time reading your blog is the static shock's situation being cancel, highly popular and no DVD.
    His Charlotte Fullerton is highly popular and she didn't fight for her husband to get DVD for his honor.